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Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander is one of my favorite authors for young adult fantasy. His style is always a perfect mix of humor, adventure, morals and fun. I don't think I've read a single book by Lloyd Alexander that I haven't liked. His Chronicles of Prydain are the first fantasy books I read and undoubtedly why I began to love the genre. Without further ado:


This is a Celtic fantasy quintet consisting of: The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King. I read these when I was eight or so, and they still remain among my very favorite books. They follow the adventures of Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper who longs to be a hero, and his comrades is they travel through the land of Prydain on a variety of missions, most of them having to do with Conquering Evil. It might sound fairly typical, but the Chronicles of Prydain are excellent, layered and beautiful.


In a story set in ancient China, naive Prince Jen goes on a quest for a legendary kingdom and along the way learns several truths about life, meets several life-long companions and better understands the people he is to rule. (Typical Alexander plot and similar characters, but no less entertaining, particularly those with an interest in Chinese mythology.)


In sort of a psuedo-Europe, young Sebastian is rudely sent away from court when his fiddle makes an embarrassing noise in front of the Purse (the enormously fat and greedy tax-collector who thinks his pants have split). He goes off in search of the Captain, who is the leader of a rebellion abainst the tyrant. Mix this in with a run-away princess, an enchanted fiddle and a white cat...


Set in ancient Greece, Lucian, the bean counter, must run to escape a fate of being sacrificeced by the king's greedy counselors. He gains several interesting companions along the way: Fronto, a poet-turned-donkey, Joy-in-the-dance, a mysterious girl, and Catch-a-tick, a member of the goat people. Numberous Greek myths are slyly punned upon for a very satisfactory story.


In feudal India, the young prince Tamar has a dream in which he loses all his kingdom by gambling with a mysterious stranger and is given an iron ring. He is bound by kharma to go, and so he does, rectifying many problems along the way and learning the limits of honor and loyalty. Plenty of neat Indian mythology along the way. (Somewhat like Prince Jen and Arkadians set in India.)


Clever Gypsy Rizka is a well-liked vagabond in her town. Here, she pairs together star crossed lovers separated by their parents' strife, metes out justice in often hilarious ways and greatly improves the town. Fun picaresque stuff, lighter reading than his quest-type stories.


This is also a quintet; I'm not quite as fond of them, so I don't know if this is the exact order. Anyway, I believe they go: The Illyrian Adventure, The El Dorado Adventure, The Jedera Adventure, The Drackenberg Adventure, and The Philadelphia Adventure. Courageous, intelligent Vesper Holly is the heroine throughout; her somewhat less astute guardian Brinny serves as her foil. They follow her adventures throughout various mythical lands where she inevitably meets her nemesis and where she also inevitably defeats her nemesis. Vesper's energy is occasionally a little too much, but the series (for younger readers) will please those in search of an exciting adventure story with a strong female protagonist.


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