The Prydain Chronicles Critical Essays

Lloyd Alexander


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Originally inspired by the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh legends, Lloyd Alexander evoked his memories of the time he spent in Wales during World War II to build the fantasy land of Prydain. The critically acclaimed series of novels and short stories is populated by numerous unforgettable characters and is full of daring adventures in which these characters are forced to confront the consequences of their actions. Although the setting undeniably is a fantasy realm, Taran struggles with the same kinds of problems that might trouble a contemporary young man.

Alexander has been compared with both T. H. White and J. R. R. Tolkien for his use of well-known legends as a basis for his writing. Alexander is able to strike a balance between heroic epic and modern realism that makes the books accessible to young people of various generations. The books are considered classics by many in the field of children’s literature.

The Book of Three, the first of the series, was published after Alexander already had published several adult novels. His first children’s book, Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth (1963), led him to explore further his research into Welsh folklore. Rather than merely retelling the old legends, Alexander added his own created characters along with contemporary conflicts of values and ethics. In each of the novels, the themes of heroic quests are enriched by Taran’s personal quest: the search...

(The entire section is 456 words.)