The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain
by Lloyd Alexander
This is a collection of eight short stories, with roots in Welsh mythology, by the author of the award-winning Prydain Chronicles
. And though you may enjoy them without reading the aforesaid Chronicles, they are especially satisfying as "a bit more," for those of us who are sad to see the tales of Taran and his friends come to an end.
These stories all take place before Taran Assistant Pigkeeper's birth. Two of them were previously published, the rest written for this book. They make quick reading and are full of wit, warmth, and gentle lessons. Many favorite characters from the Prydain Chronicles appear in these pages, and it is delightful to learn more about their background.
First, "The Foundling" shows us how the wise old enchanter Dallben got started, with another entertaining appearance by the three hags of Morva. The ending dovetails with the opening of "The Stone," in which a foolish farmer learns a lesson from a certain crotchety fairy who has trouble becoming invisible. "The True Enchanter" is like a classic fairy tale, in which the princess Angharad chooses between three enchanter-suitors. "The Rascal Crow" is an animal fable featuring Medwyn (the Prydain version of Noah) and a boastful crow who learns a lesson-- maybe-- from a gnat, a spider, and a turtle. In "The Sword," the enchanted blade Dyrnwyn becomes a curse for King Rhitta when one broken promise leads him down the road to self-destruction-- without doubt, the saddest tale in this book. "The Smith, the Weaver, and the Harper" harks back to the time when Arawn, Lord of Death, was trying to steal the secrets of all crafts and arts, and the bard Menwy defies him.
Finally, the two previously published stories included in this volume are "The Truthful Harp" and "Coll and His White Pig." The one shows how Fflewdur Fflam got his magical harp and the beginning of his adventures with it. The other depicts the old warrior Coll and the occasion when he first learned that his pig, Hen Wen, must be protected from Arawn.
You can read these stories before the Prydain Chronicles and let them set the stage. Or after them, and enjoy a lovely reprieve from saying farewell to a wonderful world of legend. But I think one must whet your appetite for the other. Alexander's gift is too rich to refuse.
Recommended Age: 10+
If you would like to contact Robbie, you may do so here.