I’ve been checking for Lloyd Alexander’s books nearly every time I go into Pioneer Book, and I finally found them— a full box set in almost perfect condition. I was so excited. So I added it to the box. (What? It was a good sale. We bought a lot of books. I don’t have a problem.)
Most people are probably familiar with this series through the Disney movie The Black Cauldron, which I’ve actually never seen before. I was introduced to the series in elementary school, when I got to pick a free book for my birthday. In the box, I saw a glossy picture with fantasy cover art depicting an evil, antlered, skull-faced warrior on horseback. I thought it looked incredible. So I picked another book, because I didn’t want my teacher to know I was interested in it. (I don’t know what my problem was. Apparently, I was a really self-conscious kid.)
Anyway, after a few years and a little more self-confidence, I saw the same cover art somewhere and convinced my parents to buy me the book. It was the first in the series, called The Book of Three. The Book of Three was a wonderful adventure, and led me immediately to the rest of the series: The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and the series finale, The High King.
As a series overall, I highly recommend it. If you want a book-by-book recommendation, I would say that you should definitely start at the beginning. If you like The Book of Three, it’s worth reading more. If you start halfway through the series, though, you won’t understand everything. And whatever you do, don’t start with Taran Wanderer. That book is… wandery. It’s my least favorite.
The series gets a little more preachy and pedantic as you go, with the first two being sheer adventure and the last few being a little more “wise.” (That’s probably why The High King won the Newbery medal. It’s the most “instructional” of them, so I can understand a board of literary folks thinking it would be best for kids.) But even still, it’s worth reading them all. No matter your age. ♦