Taran is nothing but an Assistant Pig-Keeper, and not the brightest one at that. He is discontented with his task of taking care of Hen Wen the oracular white pig. He wants to be a hero and do great things.
Great things happen faster than he can manage them when the Horned King, champion of the lord of the underworld, summons his war-band to capture the land of Prydain. When Hen Wen makes a break for it Taran runs after her and finds himself tangled up with a bard-king, a talkative princess, an unmagical dwarf, and a creature of no particular specie that can never seem to eat enough. Racing against time, the tatterdemalion band must warn the lords of Prydain before the Horned King destroys the land.
The story is the typical struggle of good against evil. All characters have faults, some more glaring than others. The bard-king has a habit of exaggerating facts, whereupon his magical harp will break strings. Taran is stubborn and does not possess a great deal of wisdom until the end of the story. Other companions can be petty at times, succumbing to moments of unfounded judgment on others, and even at times insulting. By the end, however, an atmosphere of trust and friendship is fostered.
Several of the characters can practice magic, both good and evil, and there is occasional talk of an impersonal destiny that governs the world.
Characters are hunted, shot at, and sometimes wounded, though never grievously. There are mentions of torture and of wounds received through the hardships of travel. Though there is a considerable amount of violence contained in The Book of Three, none of it is described graphically and very little is addressed directly; most is passing mention of the effects of the evil rulers such as the Horned Kind and his overlord.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Crude or Profane Language or Content
For an epic fantasy, The Book of Three maintains the typical points: there are impossible mountains to cross, days without food to suffer, numerous enemies to withstand, in order to reach the goal. While the writing may be found to be a bit stiff, the characters are enjoyable to follow. While they are not always the most intelligent of models for readers, nevertheless they possess aspects of value: steadfastness in the face of danger, loyalty to friends, and the willingness to do what is right no matter the consequences. With the ambitious scale of the Lord of the Rings and the lightness of The Hobbit, The Book of Three makes for a nice introduction to Alexander’s land of The Chronicles of Prydain.
The land of Prydain, while not exactly intended to be interpreted as such, is built off of the customs, lore, and landscape of Wales. Several characters of Welsh lore make an appearance on the scene which adds to the flavor of the story and serves to create another depth to the story, only to be plumbed if the reader should be interested enough to seek out the original mythologies for himself.