Saturday, June 2, 2007

Lloyd Alexander, and a reminiscence

I was very saddened to find out just a few minutes ago that Lloyd Alexander, author of the the Chronicles of Prydain, died on May 17.

I first read The Book of Three, the first in the series, in primary seven, when I found a copy on the class bookshelf. I remember being completely immersed, so much so that the teacher gave me into trouble for reading well into the Maths slot. I was only eleven, and I didn't really know anything about the Mabinogion or Welsh mythology in any real detail, but I can still clearly remember the sense of awe and pure transportation I encountered when I read that book, a sense I just hadn't encountered before while reading. Unfortunately, the school shelf didn't have the rest of the books and I spent several years searching, without success, in shops for them. I only read The High King last year, when a new edition of the series was published, but the Chronicles are without a doubt amongst my favourite books of all time.

Few books have touched me in quite the way the Chronicles of Prydain did, and they, along with The Hobbit, were among my first influences in writing when I was younger. When I was eleven, I only really consciously appreciated the adventure story and colourful characters, and while I still do, I can now appreciate the complexities of all those characters, the subtle links to mythology, but above all, Alexander's wonderfully understated wisdom and tenderness, in both his prose and his author's notes. And while Finn and Aoife, the hero and heroine of my own fantasy series, are very much their own characters, they will always have their roots somewhere in Taran and Eilonwy.

Goodbye, Mr. Alexander. I hope you found your Summer Country.

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