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The Book of Three

(The Chronicles of Prydain #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  67,116 ratings  ·  2,971 reviews
Taran wanted to be a hero, and looking after a pig wasn't exactly heroic, even though Hen Wen was an oracular pig. But the day that Hen Wen vanished, Taran was led into an enchanting and perilous world. With his band of followers, he confronted the Horned King and his terrible Cauldron-Born. These were the forces of evil, and only Hen Wen knew the secret of keeping the kin ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 1969 by Dell Yearling (first published March 12th 1964)
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Jennifer Sort of. Disney based The Black Cauldron off of parts of both The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron. They titled their movie The Black Cauldron…moreSort of. Disney based The Black Cauldron off of parts of both The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron. They titled their movie The Black Cauldron because they seemed to think it was the better title. The movie is a little closer to The Book of Three than the Black Cauldron.

If you want to read the book the movie was based on, then you should probably read The Book of Three, not Black Cauldron.(less)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  67,116 ratings  ·  2,971 reviews


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Bryce Wilson
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
Blast From The Past Year Zero:

Hooboy. I have conflicted feelings about the book, and my feelings about those conflicted feelings are also conflicted. So there's that.

To make a long story short I loved this series when I was kid, I needed to pick up a gift for my nephew who is apparently Mini-Me, so I grabbed him the first couple of books in this series. Figured I'd give him something better to read then the Eragon type crap he's reading now. Of course I couldn't resist but take a look at them firs
...more
Ryen
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book but I liked it even more because I got to read it with my dad.
Paul Christensen
Lloyd Alexander to Welsh tradition
As Tolkien's Germanic: noble mission.

But worse than ‘The Hobbit’ - please explain?
Because the prose style's more mundane.

The rest of the series, though, remember,
Only gets better, fanning the embers

Fiercer and brighter in later books;
From The Black Cauldron onwards, you're hooked.
Madeline
Back in the days before Harry Potter, I was too young to get through Tolkien and wasn't interested in The Chronicles of Narnia - fortunately, I had The Chronicles of Prydain.
The series (there are five books in all) takes place in a setting similar to Wales in the Middle Ages. The main character is an assistant pig-keeper named Taran - the reason there's a need for both a pig-keeper and an assistant is because the pig in question can predict the future. The books are full of witches, magic sword
...more
Alana
Whenever I'm at my parents' home, surrounded by the books of my childhood, I will inevitably pick one up and read. This time, I selected the first of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles: The Book of Three. If you haven't read Lloyd Alexander at all, then I feel terribly sorry for your sad and empty childhood.

The basic plot should seem quite familiar: a peaceful land threatened by evil and the people who must band together to save it. It's the telling of the story that really makes i
...more
Luffy
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have very little to say on this book and why I gave it 5 stars. I read it in the past. A re read has revealed many deft touches that the author has meant us readers to discover at our leisure. The book has a boldfaced naivety about it. I enjoyed it from start to finish. I regret so few people will want to give it a chance. I'm thinking of going through the entire series. Ta.
Jason Koivu
The Book of Three is one of those classic fantasy novels you see on "Top ___" lists and the shelves of used bookshops with a fantasy section of any redeeming value. However, it doesn't rank up there with the best of the bunch and you don't hear people raving about it. I needed to find out what was up with this little book and so I did.

It's a fun, mostly-light fantasy adventure about a headstrong boy who wants to live life, not wallow in the wake of a blacksmith or spend his days as an assistant pig
...more
Aj the Ravenous Reader
The Chronicles of Prydain is a classic fantasy adventure that does what great classics, fantasies and adventures do to readers- make them love them. Who says classics cannot be as fun as Percy Jackson series? :)
Anthony
I adored this series when I was a kid, and I was in the mood for some comfort food reading, and deeply curious to see whether reading it would still hold any pleasure for me decades later. I’m happy to say that it did indeed hold many pleasures. There is an abiding sense of compassion and humor coursing through this book, even as its band of misfit adventurers face peril and hardship. It never reaches the poetic heights of Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy, another classic of children’s fantasy literat ...more
Anthony Ryan
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is really where it all began for me. Over three decades ago this book set me on the path to a lifelong love of, and later career, in fantasy fiction. Between the ages of ten and thirteen I must have read this book six times or more, along with all the others in the series. Alexander's blend of Welsh legend and modern fantasy tropes is both enchanting and compelling and the adventures of Taran, orphan and assistant pig-keeper, are a truly classic example of the hero's journey from boy to man ...more
Lyndz
Sep 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kids who cannot understand or don’t have the patience for the Lord of the Rings but who want to read fantasy novels may enjoy this.
As for me, if I wanted to read Fellowship of the Ring I would have just read it. I didn’t like this book at all, there were too many obvious similarities to the Lord of the Rings and I just kept becoming more and more irritated with the parallels as the book progressed.
(ahemmm... *fake cough* blatant ripoff *end fake cough*)
Sorry to my friends that love it, b
...more
Ashley
The Book of Three is not the most impressive book on first reading, even despite there being some things that set it apart, first and foremost its Welsh-inspired settings and characters of myth and legend. Mostly, it seemed a bit like a Tolkien clone with a plot barely even trying to be anything more: Collecting the group of adventurers. The beyond evil bad guy. Swords and sorcery, kings and princesses and princes. Wizards who commune with animals.

Right away The Book of Three did demonstrate a
...more
Terence
For some reason, I've had a hankering to reread these books for a few months. A yen I gave in to this weekend when I checked out a Science Fiction Book Club omnibus edition of all 5 novels and a collection of short stories (the latter of which, I haven't read).

Having read The Book of Three, I can see where my moral compass may have begun to form. I first read these books in sixth grade as an extracurricular project, and then made a filmstrip of the final book, The High King (yes, a "filmstrip"
...more
Cathy
Great book. I think this is the first time I've read Lloyd Alexander, although I can't believe that's true. As a parent, I would like to put the main character, Taran in the corner quite a bit, but he's a boy that likes danger. It seems like the adults treat him like an adult way too easily, even though he's probably twelve years old, if that. I like the fantasy aspects of the book, and I like that the fantastical creatures aren't all happy and tra-la-lally (not a word, I know). The book is quit ...more
jillian, unfortunately
4.5

An Assistant Pig-Keeper, a snarky red-headed princess, one of those comical Bards with a tendency to exaggerate, a very Gollumesque (but considerably more pleasant) creature, and a really awesome horse go on a quest to find a really wise pig?

That. Is brilliant.

Add to that mix an abundance of magnificent Welsh names, mythology references, the no-nonsense but still witty writing style, and you have this delightful book.
Wayland Smith
I don't know when I first read this. When I was a kid, this was one of the first fantasy series I branched out into after Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. Based on Welsh legend but with some creative twists from the writer, it's a classic series.

Taran is your typical (even stereotypical) bored farm boy. Of course, he dreams of adventure while he does chores on the small farm of Caer Dallben. But it isn't exactly a normal farm. Coll the blacksmith teaches him farming and even, as the
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Great youth adventure novel about an assistant pig keeper who meets a priccess on a chase to to rescue his intelegent pig who communictaes through talking sticks from a horned king.....

Well, trust me as odd as it sounds it's a great youth book, really, it is.
Karl Marx S.T.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have often heard about the Chronicles of Prydain as it said to set standards of excellence in fantasy for children’s literature. Honestly, I really wanted to read fantasy books from the past for it evoke a sentimental feeling in me, maybe because of it written in the year of 1964? For I believe that fantasy from the past (The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc…) are more original for they are less influence by technology and just based on pure thoughts, humble opinions that makes ...more
[Name Redacted]
A childhood favorite which remains one of the most wonderful books I've ever read.

Part of what makes it so engaging is the unconventional nature of the protagonists, all of whom are defined as much by the faults as by their virtues: Taran, far from being a "Marty Stu", is infuriatingly impetuous, hotheaded, and stubborn (a character so well-defined that until others pointed it out, i never noticed that his appearance was never described); Eilonwy, far from being a "Mary Sue", is scatterbrained,
...more
J.M.
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across THE BOOK OF THREE in the local bookstore right after I had finished THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, and I had nary a clue I was about to fall under a deep spell woven by the masterly Lloyd Alexander. I literally could not read these books fast enough. I couldn't stop thinking about the Assistant Pig Keeper named Taran and his dear friends and companions, Eilonwy, Fflewddurr, Gwydion, and poor mistreated Gurgi.

Truth to tell, if forced to choose between Tolkien's Middl
...more
Jamie
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally read: Many years ago.......
Re-read Jan 2017

When I first read this I was young and easily impressed. My favorite character was Gurgi.

Now re-reading this I still enjoyed it but what I found amusing has changed. Gurgi was half amusing and also annoying. Eilonwy;s attitude towards Taran cracked me up but she also came across as uppity. Taran I found a bit lacking in character this first book. I really wanted to get a better feel for him but it just didn't happen.

The st
...more
Cherie
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Searching for books narrated by James Langton led me to this wonderful tale of an assistant pig keeper and his adventures.

My next mission is to seek out the rest of the stories in this series.
Mark
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This whole series is worth reading and it just gets better the further one gets into the series.
Michael Sorbello
The pacing is messy and a lot of characters and plot points come off as underwhelming and anticlimactic, but all in all it’s a fun little fantasy adventure with nonstop action and a bit of slapstick humor. I didn’t like Taran and his companions at first, but I think they have a lot of potential to grow on me in future installments. The books are short and easy to read so I’m willing to go through them. Hoping for a fun ride.
Thomas
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought the box set for the Chronicles of Prydain a short while ago and read most of the first novel while on holiday in Barcelona, which is partially why I haven’t written some reviews for a while. I can’t believe I missed out this series when I was younger because it has so many elements that are right up my street, although I watched The Black Cauldron Disney film based off this book back then.

The novel follows the story of protagonist Taran of Caer Dallben, who is bored of his l
...more
Lisa Elis
Started reading this because I am studying a Lloyd Alexander book in school, and I wanted more of his writing, and this is what the library had. This isn't YA – it was found in the Children's section – so it is different from all that I have lately been reading, and that was okay. It had it's own excitement, but it wasn't so intense or fast paced. Still, it was very, very good.

The characters were all really memorable. There was Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, the Prince Gwydion, who
...more
Metaphorosis
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-rev, reviewed
4 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

Taran's been promoted - to Assistant Pig Keeper. It's not quite the heroic task he envisioned, even if Hen Wen is an oracular pig. But even assistant pig keeping turns out to be harder than expected, when Hen Wen escapes, Taran has a run-in with the Horned King, and things get even worse.

One of the classic stories of children's fantasy. I read it when I was young, and at WorldCon, this year, I was happy to hear a panelist refer to Assistant Pig Keepers
...more
Abby Johnson
May 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on Welsh mythology, this book tells the tale of Taran, the lowly Assistant Pig-Keeper, who gets wrapped up in a quest to stop the Great Horned King from destroying the land of Prydain. Accompanied by a rugged band of compatriots, including a displaced princess, an exagerating unofficial bard, and a wolf man, Taran feels that every decision he makes on the journey is the wrong one... Does the rugged band have what it takes to stop the evil spreading over the land?

LOVED this book
...more
Nikki
Read this on the train today. It's fun and a quick read. It's nothing especially new, in all the fantasy I've read. Even the relatively light-hearted tone and the characterisations aren't precisely new. It's shallow, really -- by which I mean that I didn't really feel strongly drawn to the characters, or caught up in their danger. It did make me giggle, though and Eilonwy is a really fun character. I kind of wished Gwydion had been more fleshed out, too, because he's normally the kind of charact ...more
Marquise
3.5 stars. Tolkien lite plot, and heavily derivative. It's definitely not for my age range, yet still had a measure of appeal for its charmingly told and very entertaining adventures, so I'm rounding the rating up on that account.
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1,738 followers
Lloyd Chudley Alexander was an influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents, as well as several adult books. His most famous contribution to the field of children's literature is the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. The concluding book of the series, The High King , was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1969. Alexander's other books have also won the Nat ...more

Other books in the series

The Chronicles of Prydain (5 books)
  • The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain, #2)
  • The Castle of Llyr (The Chronicles of Prydain, #3)
  • Taran Wanderer (The Chronicles of Prydain, #4)
  • The High King (The Chronicles of Prydain, #5)
“Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we can do. Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart.” 280 likes
“Neither refuse to give help when it is needed,... nor refuse to accept it when it is offered.” 162 likes
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