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TARAN WANDERER by Lloyd Alexander


From the Chronicles of Prydain series, volume 4

by Lloyd Alexander & illustrated by David Wyatt

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1967
Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

A young man searches for his identity and finds that he is not what he was born but what he is becoming, that he is, in short, himself: "strength -- and frailty. Pride and vanity, courage and fear. Of wisdom, a little, of folly much...a man like any other...but...myself and none other." Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper of the first three Prydain books, passes through many Welsh terrors and not a few European cliches -- life is: is a smithy's forge, a weaver's loom, a potter's wheel, what you make it -- before finding self-knowledge in a reflection of himself. Were these commonplaces seen with fresh insight, were the narrative written in a more muscular, less self-conscious style, this version of a familiar theme might work; the identity crisis is universal and the adventure leading to its solution moves very well -- but the extra elements are missing. This fourth in the series is aesthetically complete without the other three books, but a reader would have a hard time identifying Gurgi (whose gurglings are mercifully less than usual), Dallben, Fflam and the rest; with a brief introduction this quest could stand alone. If you've done well with the others, you'll want this; if not, try Tolkien.