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The Arkadians

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,019 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
To escape the wrath of the king and his wicked soothsayers, an honest young man joins forces with a poet-turned-jackass and a young girl with mystical powers as they embark on a series of epic adventures through the land of Arkadia.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 30th 1998 by Puffin Books (first published June 29th 1995)
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Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone age 9+
Shelves: humor, fantasy, children
Lloyd Alexander is best known for his outstanding Chronicles of Prydain fantasy series. And deservedly so; it's a great series, charming, unique, and with a powerful and moving sense of morality to it. It is, in many ways, a Lord of the Rings for the young-teen set.

For those who aren't familiar with Alexander, I should emphasize that he wrote most of his work before the modern craze for huge fantasy series and juvenile fantasy series (in both senses of the word "juvenile"). His work is far super
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I've been on a Lloyd Alexander kick recently. I re-read Westmark for the heck of it, and then while I was tracking down and waiting for its sequel, The Kestrel, I read every other Lloyd Alexander book on my shelves.

The Arkadians (published 1995), alas, brought me to the realization that Mr. Alexander, like many YA authors (L.M. Montgomery also falls into this category.), deals in types. What I mean is, although his characters and settings change, they are all, in some ways, very much the same. H
"Then all the tales that I've heard from Oudeis, Gold-Horse, Buckthorn -- someday I want to write them down so they won't be forgotten. Those and everything that's happened to me, as well. Sometimes they all get mixed up together in my head, as if the tales were my life and my life was a tale."

I came back to The Arkadians because I read Lauren Groff's Arcadia earlier this year. They are absolutely nothing alike.

The Arkadians draws heavily on Greek mythology. Lucian, bean-counter in the palace of
The Arkadians is a fun read about a boy's journey to discover what he should do in life, a girl's journey to save her culture, and a donkey's journey to return to being a poet. If those aren't enough journeys, trust me there are plenty of sub-journeys within the pages. Lloyd Alexander puts his own fun spin on how some of the most famous myths in Greece got started, each myth having a perfectly reasonable explanation (with the exception of the donkey-poet, that's a little more Shakespearean). The ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was a fun adventure the whole way through; a pure Lloyd Alexander classic from beginning to end. It's full of references to Greek myths, which Alexander twists with playful humor, while giving a nod at those ancient adventures which gave birth to all fantasy. The characters are lovable and magical in all their own little ways. With great lessons of seeking peace over contention and recognizing the need for a union of men and women, the story is a joy to read. Lloyd Alexander never fail ...more
Lou Anders
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My first Lloyd Alexander, I read The Arkadians in almost one sitting, having read most of it on a long flight (and the final chapter the next day). Hugely enjoyable, nicely plotted, if somewhat meandering fantasy set in a Greek-inspired secondary world. Quick, fun read.
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: greek-mythology
I'm glad I found this book again! I read it many years ago and couldn't remember the name. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a charming and fun read. Especially young readers will enjoy this book in my opinion.
Gwendolyn Grace
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Probably deserves 3.5 stars as opposed to just 3. It was good, but not great.
A highly enjoyable tale, blending many different elements and stories of Greek mythology, with occasionally other fairy-tale bits. The characters were fun, if their patterns slightly familiar to those who have read other books by Lloyd Alexander, and the story had a number of twists. As per usual, the writing was excellent. However, the pacing seemed a bit off, as if there were no pauses, and everything happened quite
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book reads a lot like The Chronicles of Narnia. The story itself reminded me some of The Horse and His Boy, except this was based mostly on ideas of Mythology where the Narnia books were based on ideas from Christianity. The only "caution" I would give is the continuous use of the "jack***" referencing the man-turned-donkey character. I do highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the Narnia series - young or young at heart!
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Re reading this book again. I can't believe I didn't add this to my books. As great a read as I remembered.

Couldn't I give it six stars? No, really couldn't I?

Summary: The Woman Who Talks To Snakes splits the kingdom when she gives the Bear King a prophecy he didn’t like. Lucian is on the run for being too good at counting things. Fronto a poet is has turned himself into a jackass and is desperate to find a cure. Add in some other zany characters and a variety of Greek mythology and you have a
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Lucian is on the run from the soothsayers that run the country in all but name when he figures out they're embezzling funds from the palace. On the way out, he stumbles across Fronto, a poet-turned-donkey, who wants nothing more than to be human again. Without a plan of his own, Lucian agrees to help Fronto. Their group grows as they journey, and along the way Lucian finds within himself more of a hero than he ever thought possible.

This is a book about stories, primarily. Nearly everyone has one

This had all the craft and flow of a fairy tale, which made it an enjoyable read.
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Grades: 5 to 8 Genre: Fantasy
Lucian is a lowly bean counter, but due to his own diligence at his task he finds out that two of the king’s advisors are up to no good. As he realizes the perilous situation that he is in, he decides that his only option is to run away. He quickly meets a poet, Fronto, who has been turned into a donkey and they decide to travel together to try to break his curse. Along the way, they meet Joy-in-the-Dance, a young priestess who is running away from the king, as he di
Jeni Enjaian
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I finished this book yesterday and absolutely fell in love with it.

I remember loving Lloyd Alexander books as a kid and even purloined one of the names of his characters for the name of my own character. (Shh... don't tell anyone)

I haven't read any of his books in a very long time and don't even remember my overall opinion of them.

This book deftly weaves together versions of old Greek myths and a somewhat casual way, almost making fun of themselves. As I sit here and write this review I am remin
Aug 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Three stars seems kind of low, but I'd have to say that "I liked it" is a better description of my feelings than "I really liked it." One of the praise-for-the-book quotes in the front describes The Arkadians as part Greek myth and part Canterbury Tales, and I can't think of a more apt characterization, unless it's to throw in part Lloyd Alexander because many of the characters reminded me fondly of the Prydain Chronicles. Our young, inexperienced hero embarks quite accidentally on a quest and i ...more
Dan Keating
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's not so easy to classify the age range on this book - it is a chapter book, but it is definitely beneath middle school reading level, putting it in that slightly uncomfortable gray area behind "young adult" books and in front of "children's books." Still - whatever it is - The Arkadians is an excellent book for kids.

Alexander has a well-documented fascination with mythology - primarily Welsh, Greek, and Roman, but I'm sure that if you looked hard enough you could find a couple others sprinkl
William Leight
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lloyd Alexander doesn't always hold up as well as some of the other authors I loved when I was younger but "The Arkadians" is just as delightful as I remembered it being. The main characters are classic Alexander: Lucian, the hero, overconfident and often lacking in wisdom but always trying to do the right thing and usually doing it; Joy-in-the-dance, who has a kind of annoying name but is otherwise an excellent complement to Lucian, cool, clever, and self-possessed; and Fronto, a poet who has b ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've had this book forever, but was never really drawn to it. I finally picked it up and was very pleasantly surprised to find a humorous and well-told story. I have a particular fondness for retellings of myths and fairytales. In this story, young Lucian is forced to leave his home after he discovers that some greedy government types have been stealing from the treasury. He soon joins forces with Fronto, a poet turned into a donkey, and Joy-in-the-Dance, a girl with some magical abilities that ...more
Kevin Black
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a delightful short novel that kindly pokes fun at old Greek myths--as well as at old writers of novels. Other than one talking poet-turned-jackass, there is no magic or fantasy in the book, though one meets characters that, in repeated retellings, could become Odysseus, satyrs, the Trojan horse, and so on and on.

I once again feel he really knows how to write about a boy and girl falling in love. This is surprising since he did not really devote many sentences to it, and one thinks it a l
Jan 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This is a strange book that is kind of a composite of The Wizard of Oz, Canterbury Tales, and Greek mythology. It’s about a young man, Lucian, who escapes from two evil soothsayers with a talking donkey (who is really a poet who has been transformed into a donkey). They decide they must find the Lady of Wild Things (like the Wizard of Oz) who will transform Fronto back into a man and tell Lucian what he should do with his life. Along their journey, they pick up other people who are also looking ...more
Sep 07, 2008 rated it liked it
An oddity, but a pleasant one. Like in The Journey of Prince Jen and The Iron Ring , Lloyd Alexander here chooses a culture and rearranges it, creating an entirely new fantasy realm in its place. But, though I am loath to say the it doesn't work as well as the two aforementioned novels, it is sadly true. Working with an already mythological culture shifts things a little, as one can more directly compare Alexander's world with the one he is taken from. His does not hold up so well. But though i ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be very juvenile. It was either over my head funny, or just plain not funny at all. I saw some amusement over the 'jackass' commentary, but overall it was more an annoyance than an amusement. I disliked the multiple word names such as "joy-in-the-dance, see-far-ahead" and others. I found this to be a very taxing book to read. And honestly I almost stopped reading it entirely 3 or 4 times. But I persevered, and good thing too, because in my opinion the best part was at the ve ...more
Adam Shields
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: a good single volume children's book from Lloyd Alexander. If you liked his Prydain or Westmark series then this will be familiar in style and characterization. This is really about exploring the idea of story telling and would make a good read aloud for elementary children.

The two main male and female leads are very reminiscent in character to Taran/Theo and Miggle/Eloway. The third character is a man that has been turned into a donkey (or jackass). The story uses lots of word pl
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, juvenile-lit
I didn't read the Chronicles of Prydain books when I was a kid, but Aaron introduced me to them as an adult. It's a fun series, and I really liked them. When I was in the library a while back, I spied this book on their "for sale" cart, and I thought Aaron might like to have it, since he is such a Lloyd Alexander fan. It had been sitting on our shelf for a while and neither of us had read it, but I needed something to read while waiting for my kids at swim lessons, and didn't really have time to ...more
I'm a huge Lloyd Alexander fan, & The Arkadians is too much a part of my early childhood not to adore it. Nevertheless, re-reading it as an adult, I have to admit it isn't his best work. The characters are much sketchier and less developed variations of those we've seen before - as another reviewer said, you can have some fun matching up Arkadians characters to their Westmark and Prydain counterparts (and, a bit, Vesper Holly versions). But it's a charming and enchanting little story, gently ...more
Allison Riendeau
May 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a cheerful, jumbled mess of Greek myths reimagined and playful pokes at old stories. Lucian (renamed Aeii-Ouch by a pythoness called Joy-in-the-Dance - a joke that feels a bit tired after awhile) flees the Bear king's city after discovering the crimes of two embezzling soothsayers. Then enter a poet-turned-jackass named Fronto (my favorite character by far), a cheeky goat boy, a mild village-leader-turned-scapegoat, and several powerful female figures. Light-hearted and by no means deep, ...more
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, childrens
The Arcadians was underwhelming, especially since I always have high hopes for Lloyd Alexander books. Alexander's idea of rehashing familiar mythology and spinning them in such a way that women play a more prominent role is a good one, but the execution wasn't great, and I didn't think his spoofing was particularly funny. Although I think that a younger audience might enjoy this book better, I don't know if they would recognize the Greek mythology that Alexander is spoofing. I suppose that, if t ...more
Kiera Beddes
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eng-420, ya-lit, mythology
Genre: fantasy, mythology
Summary: Alexander weaves a tale very similar to many Greek myths, but set in a different world. Lucian and Joy-in-the-Dance set off on a quest to find Lucian purpose in the world while avoiding all those who would try to stop him.
Response: Alexander has fun with Greek myths explaining them as real, like centaurs being a people who lived so closely with horses, they were like the same thing. This is a fairly comedic YA novel, but a great bridge to the study of classical
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Very similar in both character and themes to his Prydain Chronicles. Except there we had more Welsh/British mythology tinging the story and here we have the Greco-Roman mythology. I went through a huge mythology phase and I loved the Prydain books so I had no problem with this. If you're looking for something completely different then you'll be disappointed. Also, I would personally recommend that the Prydain series be the first Alexander books you read. After that, go for whatever. If you liked ...more
Kay Iscah
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is essentially a story about stories, almost an anti-story if such a thing can exist. It requires some knowledge of Greek myth to catch all the references, but even without them, there's plenty of examples of how a tale can grow tall with retellings.

While still not quite at the same level of sophistication as The Chronicles of Prydain or the Westmark trilogy, this book was delightful. I'd been rather disappointed with my last few Lloyd Alexander books, but this one flowed better. Can't say
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Sophia's Book Club book 1 3 Mar 12, 2008 08:24AM  
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Lloyd Chudley Alexander (January 30, 1924 - May 17, 2007) 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 i ...more
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“Seize the day, whatever's in it to seize, before something comes along and seizes you.” 48 likes
“Any fool can tell a story. Take a few odds and ends of things that happen to you, dress them up, shuffle them about, add a dash of excitement, a little color, and there you have it.” 26 likes
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