Don't miss the rest of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles.
©1964 Lloyd Alexander; (P)2004 Random House, Inc, Listening Library, a division of Random House, Inc.
"A very funny adventure tale set in an imaginary kingdom." (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)
"James Langton enables the listener to enter this fantastical world. Langton's presentation of each character has a depth that brings heightened compassion....Langton cares deeply about each character, and so will the listener!" (AudioFile)
My 9 year old chose this book from her reading list this summer and to my surprise became one of our families favorite. This book teaches some very important lessons about growing up and learning to find ones own identity in a world that when young seems so large and exciting, but when the time comes to step outside ones comfort zone only makes us realize there is no place like home.
My kids (girl-11yr & boy-9yr) and I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a little slow starting and the names were confusing at first, but it got moving and was a lot of fun. Taran (main character) gives hope to the average-feeling person. Bravery often comes in small packages. We're ready for the next book in the series.
I have loved the Prydain Chronicles for many years, but it had been ages since I had last re-read them. James Langton reads "The Book of Three" beautifully, bringing it very much to life. One small complaint is that there are some technical hiccups in the recording - there are a couple of quite noticeable skips. Overall, though, it was a pleasure to hear this performance.
The five books in this classic coming-of-age series were written to be read aloud, and the narrator does a good job with them. They were favorite bedtime stories for our children and they enjoyed hearing them again while traveling. Although the main character is a boy growing to be a man, both my sons and daughter have read and re-read these stories. Be aware that some of the characters die in the later books, so this is not for very young children. Ages eight to twelve would be about right.
This is the first book of a series in which we are introduced to wonderful characters, the primary of which is Taran, a young boy who longs to be a hero. But adventure isn't what he imagines it to be. I enjoy seeing him learn as he journeys and the entertaining companions he aquires along the way. The messages in the text are relevant to adults as well as the young adults who are the primary audience. The only thing I wonder about is the title since the Book of Three doesn't play a very large part. Maybe Assistant Pig Keeper would have been better.
Although I enjoy this series, I've given this part of the story 4 stars because there are a lot of times the author reverts to writing that things are best left unsaid and sometimes the urgency is slowed down by too much discussion.
I have read the book. Listening to it instead taught me how to pronounce all the names. I feel that James Langton's depiction of the characters was true to how I imagined them when reading.
I have heard this story several times and am always moved by the beauty of the prose and the gentle wisdom contained within. My children, boy (9) and girl (7), both ask to hear this story over and over. It is funny, touching, wise, and beautifully takes us along Taran's journey to becoming who he is meant to be. Langdon does an exceptional narration, probably the best narrated book I've ever heard. Do yourself a favor and listen to the entire series, and share it with your children. It will stay with you...
A patient, thoughtful author willing to build his characters and his world before rushing into plot events at break-neck speed.
The "Wheel of Time" series.
James Langton's performance was excellent, actually. But he didn't save the book for me.
I read a few chapters in and gave up. It is decently written, so far as the composition of paragraphs is concerned, but is poorly storied. To my surprise, no depth of character or context is established before whisking the reader away on a series of hurried plot developments that feel straight out of an early-nineties' straight-to-DVD fantasy cartoon adventure. I found myself feeling bleak about the prospect of reading the whole book, let alone the whole series, when I had so many other excellent books in the genre to sink my teeth into. I spent money on it, but I'm putting it back on the shelf. I would have enjoyed it if I were thirteen, but it doesn't age with the reader -- at least, if the first few chapters are any indication of the author's ability as presented in the rest of the book and series.
I kinda hope that the literary community doesn't kill me for only giving this three stars. But let's be honest: I've probably been rating things too high all along. And I have reasons for rating this one lower.
The Book of Three was entertaining. I liked the main character, and thought that the story was brilliant in its sheer simplicity. It was a really basic hero cycle, except that the reason he left his home was because he was chasing a magic pig. However, on a side note, I would say that any pig is magical, because BACON! But I digress.
While the hero cycle is all fine and dandy, I personally tend to like a little more meat on those bones. But...not so. Again, before the internet verbally (or textually) abuses me, I understand that it's juvenile lit. I'm not saying that it's a bad story. Just a little light. That makes it perfect for even seven to eight year olds to pick up and enjoy, which is great.
Despite the relative lightness of the contents, the main thing that bothered me was the cast of characters. Each one of them seemed less a character and more a caricature of what a person actually does and says. This doesn't usually bother me if it's a fairly isolated thing or if it's just one of the characters. But it's all of them. It wasn't noticeable at first, but started feeling like a stumbling block as the story progressed.
The thing that really sets this audiobook apart is the performance. James Langton does an absolutely fantastic job at differentiating character through accent, style of speech and even little things like how strongly they pronounce certain sounds. If for nothing else, this recording is valuable for the simple fact that it can overcome any inherent weaknesses (or things that bug you) so you can still have an enjoyable time listening. This is certainly something that I can see my wife and I listening to with our kids on a long road trip. And since it's only about five and a half hours, we will probably listen to the next one, too.
With everything that I've said, you probably think that I didn't like the book. On the contrary, I enjoyed the escapism and new ideas that the book brought to my own literary culture. I've been told that the story really starts to pick up after this book, so I'm excited to move on to The Black Cauldron. If indeed the story does improve after this, I will just figure that this one is a quick introduction to the world.
FORTY SOMETHING THUG FOR HIRE WHO ENJOYS A GOOD BOOK.
I READ THE PRYDAIN CHRONICLES ONCE UPON A LONG TIME AGO, AND REMEMBERED THEM AS BEING FUN AND EXCITING. HEARING THEM ON AUDIBLE HAS MADE IT A FRESH EXPERIENCE, LARGELY IN PART TO NARRATOR JAMES LANGTON'S MARVELOUS PERFORMANCES IN GIVING EACH AND EVERY CHARACTER A UNIQUE VOICE. THE STORY IS A CLASSIC (NO LORD OF THE RINGS, MIND YOU, BUT SIMILAR IN TASTE.) AND LANGTON'S NARRATION JUST ELEVATES THE MATERIAL. FOR FANTASY THAT IS 'FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY' WITHOUT BEING DUMBED DOWN FOR CHILDREN LOOK NO FURTHER. THERE IS A LOT TO ENJOY HERE FROM BOLD HEROES TO FRIGHTFUL VILLIANS, MAGIC SWORDS AND ORACULAR PIGS, EXCITING BATTLES AND LOTS OF HUMOR TO GIVE IT A BIT OF A LIGHT HEARTED TOUCH. THIS IS FANTASTIC STORYTELLING IN A CLASSIC SETTING. AND LANGTON'S PERFORMANCE IS STELLAR.
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