View Full Version : Any "Chronicles of Prydain" fans in the house?

03-07-2012, 08:23 PM

Lloyd Alexander's five-part "Chronicles of Prydain" series (with an additional volume of short stories) are some of my favorite books. They've got the high fantasy of LotR, but no matter how much magic is invoked, the focus never strays from the always-grounded humanity of the characters, especially in the saga-long arc of how the protagonist Taran grows from a boy to a man. And while the prose is simple, straightforward, and easily accessible for late pre-teen readers, it's full of unfussy, preciousness-free insight and humanism. Just magical books all around.

Anyone else know/like/love 'em? :)

As for the inevitable "could it make a movie?" question... I've never quite decided. (Nor have I seen the heavily unfaithful 1980s Disney The Black Cauldron cartoon feature.)

Trouble is, the books aren't all that cinematic. The Book of Three introduces the characters and then quits/Taran faints during the big fight; it's sort of like A New Hope without the Death Star climax. The Black Cauldron has a more movie-ready plot, but nothing that cinematic really happens - Taran and co. actually wait in the woods during the opening attack on Annuvin! The Castle of Llyr is pretty movie-ready, I guess, but that's book three.

I've always assumed that the ideal option would be to adapt the series on TV, a la Game of Thrones:
give it a big enough budget to have it look nice, but don't spiffy up the stories themselves, thereby avoiding the need for epic battles and such. The end of Llyr would be a perfect end to a first season, and Wanderer and High King could make up the second. It'd still be pricey, what with all the scenery and Gurgi+Llyan, but that's all I got.

Alternatively, if one had to make movies, I guess one'd have to start with Disney's one actually solid idea, and combine the stories of the first two books. I've never quite been able to crack the ideal story outline for such a jumble (the key question: whether or not to include Ellidyr), but maybe someday I will...

Thoughts? Does anyone even know what the heck I'm talking about? :-P :-)

03-08-2012, 03:33 AM
Any "Chronicles of Prydain" fans in the house?

Does anyone even know what the heck I'm talking about? :-P

I guess the answer is a no on both counts.

03-08-2012, 09:01 AM
I have my originals still on my shelf, I bought them when I was 12. Read them all a couple of times, very much beloved. The final book, The High King, is a masterful work. One of the best conclusions to a fantasy series ever done.

03-08-2012, 09:38 AM
Anyone else know/like/love 'em? :)

Nope, but they are now on my download list.

03-10-2012, 03:37 PM
I have my originals still on my shelf, I bought them when I was 12. Read them all a couple of times, very much beloved. The final book, The High King, is a masterful work. One of the best conclusions to a fantasy series ever done.You, good sir, are a man of great taste and refinement. :)

Everyone else should definitely give Prydain a try! I really can't stress enough how humane the books are. I've always shied away from all but the most mainstream of fantasy novels (His Dark Materials, LotR, Harry Potter), because I assume that they're pretty much all exercises in going up their own arses (cough, cough... The Silmarillion). But while characters in these books do occasionally reference old/obscure in-universe lore, it's always done sparingly, and never overpowers the drama of the moment. Also, I suspect the fact that they're children's books helps - Alexander was only out to tell beautiful stories, not to wow adult fanboys with a hugely immersive world to memorize/spend hours D&D-ing in.

07-23-2012, 11:24 AM
I really need to read those. I loved the Black Cauldron when I was a kid.

Considering HBO's very budget conscious Game of Thrones, I could also see Prydian adapted, provided they don't throw nude scenes around willy nilly.

07-23-2012, 01:19 PM
That's funny. I was just thinking about Pryadin this weekend, how it's been recommended to me by friends but I've never gotten around to reading those books. But now, with the return of this thread - well, maybe I should!

07-23-2012, 08:59 PM
^ You totally should!

Spoiler alert: there is no sex in Prydain. HBO, love ya, but please look elsewhere. :-P

08-07-2013, 07:20 PM
Hey, TomH1138 just read and liked The Book of Three, the first volume! Awesome! Feel free to add any further thoughts, hombre; and welcome to the Prydain Club! :D

08-10-2013, 12:01 PM
Thanks, Gaith! (spoilers follow)

Book of Three was a lot of fun. I can see why Disney didn't adapt it directly, since (as you noted, Gaith) Taran has nothing to do with the climax. The battle is won by a character who's been gone for most of the book, and the action happens offscreen, so to speak (off-page?). I would say that an adaptation of the first book would have to make Taran the hero, but that would defeat Lloyd Alexander's expressly stated theme that Taran played his part in this story, and that's all that required of him or of any of us; we don't all always get to be the main heroes.

Also, it's actually refreshingly believable that a young kid wouldn't be able to defeat such a trained warrior and his vast army, at least not this early in his development as a hero. In Narnia, the kids are aided in their strength by magic inherent in the air. But in Prydain, Taran isn't traveling to a new world; his world is the place where all this stuff happens!

Two big surprises were discovering that a couple of characters who spoke in the Disney version were mute in this book. I kind of guessed that Hen Wen might not speak, and I was a little bit annoyed that she disappeared for so long in the story, making me wait to find out if I was right. (That's not Lloyd Alexander's fault, though; that's just the context that I bring to the material from the movie.)

But finding out that the Horned King doesn't speak was really a shocker! We kept seeing him from afar, so of course he didn't have any dialogue then. I figured that, at some point, he'd meet our characters face to face and then he'd talk to them. He did meet them, but not a word was uttered! You'd never have guessed that from the Disney cartoon, where he's a total chatterbox. By way of illustration, in the book, he's much more like a Black Rider than he is like Saruman.

Another (different) surprise is how much I liked Eowyn. She left me with no impression, good or bad, in the movie, but she's an absolute delight in the book. I loved her endless verbosity and her needless analogies for everything. Even when she says something that isn't very polite ("Are all pig-keepers this unintelligent?") it doesn't seem to be coming from a place of meanness so much as it is not understanding. She reminded me a lot of Sally Brown from the Peanuts comics. I don't know how the rest of fandom reacts to her, but I thought she was the most unique and well-drawn character in the book.

Anyway, I still have to finish a few other things I currently have from the library, but I'm looking forward to reading The Black Cauldron!

If you want, Gaith (or anyone else), feel free to ask me what I thought of anything else from the book!

08-10-2013, 03:48 PM
You mean "Eilonwy", surely. Which my mother and I always read as "Eh-loan-wee", but which Alexander pronounced "Eye-lawn-wee". ;-) And yeah, she is kind of the best.

Glad you liked the book! I wouldn't say that it's a lesser work than the others - I think there all pretty consistent, quality-wise - but the series certainly gets richer and more engrossing as it goes along through simple accumulation of greatness. :D

08-11-2013, 05:59 AM
LOL! Yeah, I meant "Eilonwy." :oops:

Thanks for confirming my hunch. While it's a nice book, I kind of figured that if this was the only one in the series, people wouldn't be talking about it still these days. I'm sure that it's the cumulative whole that makes the book great, as you said.