Despite my devotion to fantasy, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of it as a child—which means that I’ve missed a lot of popular children’s fantasy literature. It’s hard to admit that I’ve never read The Chronicles of Prydain or The Song of the Lioness, so I’ve decided to correct those gross oversights.
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
The Newbery-winning fantasy series now available in gorgeous new paperback editions!
Since The Book of Three was first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero. Taran is joined by an engaging cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli–all of whom have become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain. Released over a period of five years, Lloyd Alexander’s beautifully written tales not only captured children’s imaginations but also garnered the highest critical praise.
The Black Cauldron was a Newbery Honor Book, and the final volume in the chronicles, The High King, crowned the series by winning the Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”
Henry Holt is proud to present this classic series in a new, redesigned paperback format. The jackets feature stunning art by acclaimed fantasy artist David Wyatt, giving the books a fresh look for today’s generation of young fantasy lovers. The companion book of short stories, The Foundling is also available in paperback at this time.
In their more than thirty years in print, the Chronicles of Prydain have become the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children.
My desire to read this stems from the fact that Disney very loosely adapted the series into The Black Cauldron, which I want to see—but I want to read the book first. (I don’t often get this opportunity with Disney and I don’t want to squander it now.) Plus, I do meet people who say they love this, so it’s worth a shot, right?
Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog liked it fine, although the tone was a little too divided for her. Memory at Stella Matutina loves it to pieces, but also thinks it’s one of the those books you can’t really come to as an adult.
The Book of Three was published in 1964.
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
The beloved Song of the Lioness series has enthralled fans for decades, and now an even larger audience can revel in these adventure-filled fantasies, which are in trade paperback for the first time and feature newly designed covers.
In Alanna, Alanna of Trebond disguises herself as a boy and makes her way to the castle of King Roald to being training as a page. As she masters the skills necessary for battle, Alanna must also learn to control her heart. This challenge is even greater in In the Hand of the Goddess, where Alanna becomes a squire to Prince Jonathan, who knows the secret of her identity. But when a mysterious sorcerer threatens the prince’s life, it will take all of Alanna’s skill, strength, and magical power to protect him. Her efforts result in knighthood, and in The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Alanna seeks adventure in a vast desert of Tortall, where, after a life-threatening duel, she becomes the first female shaman to an ancient tribe. Her warrior wisdom is put to the test in Lioness Rampant, because Tortall is in grave danger that only Alanna can prevent. As she takes on her archenemy, Alanna discovers she has a future worthy of her mythic past—both as a warrior and a woman.
I have a friend from high school who loves Tamora Pierce. That’s basically it. This looks like the right place to start.
Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness loved it as a kid, especially the ending hook. Carrie at Carrie’s YA Bookshelf absolutely loved it, especially the character of Alanna—a good thing in a quartet!
Alanna: The First Adventure was published in the September of 1983.