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Arawn, it seems, is eager to retake Prydain. And so it begins. I have probably read the five Prydain books together more than I've read any other single book in my life. Both my brothers have read them dozens of times as well. My little brother once wrote a fan letter to Alexander who sent a gracious note in response. They are the closest thing my family has to Official Books, and reading them aloud to my kids was something I'd been looking forward to ever since I was a kid myself. They are, in short, The Best.

Here are five reasons why. The Prydain books are exactly the kind of fantasy books George R. They turn on the classical virtues of loyalty, courage, and wisdom, and those values are ultimately rewarded. Good triumphs over evil. No one's head is chopped off; no one is raped; no one is flayed. Don't get me wrong: Taran loses people he loves, he experiences pain and betrayal, he makes mistakes and fights despair.

Parents say

If there's an overarching theme to the books, it's that becoming a man — or, more broadly, discovering the adult you want to be — is a difficult process and, often as not, filled with sadness and regret. As Alexander says in the author's note before The Black Cauldron the second book in the series :. Although an imaginary world, Prydain is essentially not too different from our real one, where humor and heartbreak, joy and sadness are closely interwoven.


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The choices and decisions that face a frequently baffled Assistant Pig-Keeper are no easier than the ones we ourselves must make. Even in a fantasy realm, growing up is accomplished not without cost. But things work out for the best in the end. The Prydain books contain plenty of darkness, but they are not dark books. They are square , old-fashioned.

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There are plenty of ways to do square wrong. There's nothing worse than books for young people that are preachy or reactionary. Read those Narnia books lately? Alexander is obviously a humanist and at least somewhat progressive. Eilonwy, the fierce princess who plays a key role in Taran's adventures, is as capable, independent, and free-thinking as any Katniss Everdeen. At pivotal moments, Taran learns it is best to swallow pride, to forgive or show mercy. He learns that power can corrupt and that diplomacy is often preferable to conflict.

He learns that everyone, even those who seem twisted and unpleasant like the giant Glew or the witch Achren , has good inside them, and that kindness can bring it out. Nonetheless, the central narrative is Taran learning to take responsibility for himself, to accept the consequences of his choices, and to do what's right.

Maybe it's just me, but darkness has become so vogue now, fantasy so cruel, the future so post-apocalyptic, that I find myself drawn to the old-fashioned. The Prydain books were written in the late '60s, a time of enormous tumult, and seem designed to remind their audience that some things do not change. Perhaps it reveals my advancing years, but I like hearing that, and I like my kids hearing it, too.

Kid reviews for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian | Common Sense Media

The young adult genre contains a multitude of writerly sins, from one-dimensional characters to OMG prose that tries too hard for contemporary cultural relevance. Many multi-part series, in particular, are like the Harry Potter books: chatty, repetitive, and discursive, churning through tons and tons of plot and pages to wring out a modest bit of meaning. In contrast, the Chronicles of Prydain feel Like they were carved, whittled, and sanded until only what's necessary remained.

The prose is lilting and rhythmic — it practically begs to be read aloud — but never flowery. The sentences are short and unadorned; each one advances story or reveals character.

You won't find any Tolkien-esque, pages-long passages describing the flora and fauna thank God. The books are between two hundred and three hundred pages each, but they pack in an extraordinary amount of life and wisdom. There isn't a wasted word among them. If you fashion yourself a writer, the books are worth studying, if only as a lesson in how to do a lot with a little, which seems to be a dying art. The series was originally four parts, but Alexander's editor told him she felt like something was missing, so just after the third book came out, he wrote a new fourth for the series, Taran Wanderer.

It is a remarkable book for a number of reasons. Unlike the other four, TW's central narrative does not pivot on an outside threat.


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Instead, it's simply about Taran's quest to find out who he is. Dalben found him as an infant, abandoned on a battlefield, and raised him. He has witnessed nobility, seen what is at stake in the brewing war, but he is only an orphan and an Assistant Pig-Keeper — a nobody, certainly nobody worthy of the hand of Princess Eilonwy, with whom he has slowly fallen in love. In this book and the others, however, the romance stays far, far in the background, rarely acknowledged, which is a nice contrast to today's ubiquitous love triangles.

If he can discover his true name, and it is a worthy one, perhaps And so he sets off. Rather than the single, overarching narrative, like the other books have, TW is episodic. Taran travels from place to place, learning about different ways of living, trying his hand at various trades, skills, and roles.

Parents say

For a purported children's book, it contains a striking amount of frustration and pain. You can switch between companions at any time, otherwise they'll trail behind automatically. A second player can take control of one of these companions because the game offers a drop-in, drop-out two- player option. The hack n' slash gameplay is uninspired and reduces the subtle magic of Narnia to a soulless and repetitive experience.

Controls are unrefined, making simple tasks like picking up objects or wielding a grappling hook more arduous than they should me. Even opening a simple chest involves pointlessly mashing the A button. Furthermore, the missions often don't make logical sense, like having to find missing lever pieces over and over again in order to open doors, luring bears into traps that are conveniently placed at regular intervals throughout the forest, or dodging killer bats in a cave to find a grappling hook that's been left in a chest.

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While the movie footage and co-operative play might be enough to appease Narnia fans, there's nothing otherwise noteworthy or compelling about this title. Families can talk about whether they think the game does the film or the book any justice. If they could make a game based on the film, what kind of gameplay would it have? Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners. See how we rate. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Good movie makes a dull console game.