Thursday, February 13, 2014

Taran Wanderer (The Chronicles of Prydain, #4) by Lloyd Alexander

I liked this story the least of the Prydain Chronicles. It's important to the series because it shows Taran really understanding that his identity is based on his ability and accomplishments rather than on position; however, I missed Eilonwy who is barely in it and I found myself not becoming attached to the new characters as much. I didn't think there was enough dynamic. Mostly Taran is being mentored and there isn't as much tension as characters, interact with each other. The story reads more like a folktale with clear morals or lessons Taran learns from his mentors. The usual humor exists and there are action scenes; however the character dynamics didn't hold my interest cover to cover. I didn't burn any meals because I couldn't put this book down.

Taran goes on a quest to discover his parentage so that he can marry Eilonwy. He fantasizes that he is the son of a king and queen and he journeys to far away lands in search of his roots. He gains wisdom and learns how to negotiate and settle disputes by listening to two nobles who are fighting. His ability to empathize with others is a leadership quality that he keeps honing. He continues to learn to rely on himself versus magic and it is his raw honesty with himself and reflections of who he is that makes him so accessible and endearing to the reader. When he is fooled over his parentage, rather than getting angry with the wrong-doer, he realizes that part of the fault lay within himself as well. He realized he had to set aside his shame of not being of noble birth.

On his travels, he meets many common people and learns the nobleness of everyday work. It is after he is apprenticed to a weaver, metal-smith, potter, and farmer that he realizes actions determine what defines a person and not ancestry. When he travels to the Mirror of Llunt, the self-revelation that he has good and bad inside of him helps him accept his orphan status and ignoble birth. He is no longer ashamed and gains wisdom to be content with his station in life.

While learning skilled crafts, Taran learns what it means to fail and not be good at something because he doesn't have a passion for it. One of the journey's with growing up is trying to find something one has a passion for or is good at in life. Taran explores this concept and also realizes that he has a limitation when it comes to making pottery. He does not have the greatness within to be like the master potter he is under. This is a powerful message because to be happy in a chosen profession, a person must have a passion for it, as well as some natural bent. I liked the messages in this book, I just struggled with the pacing in parts. And I missed Eilonwy ; )

3 Smileys

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