Everyone experiences joy and sorrow, or needs comfort and service, and renders compassion and aid. Yet, how we look, talk, or act makes it easy to forget there’s a person with just as rich and complicated a life as our own, or even more so.
Storytelling is one of the best ways to understand and create a genuine connection. It brings us together with our shared humanity.
Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain isn’t the first series to do this. But, while I haven’t read it for some time, it does it in such a way it’s hard to forget and has influenced so much of my personal love for fiction and storytelling.
While a peculiar amalgamation of the first few books, Disney’s The Black Cauldron manages to capture some of the charm and excitement of Prydain, but, because of the box office failure of an adaptation, these beloved books fell by the wayside.
Intended for younger audiences much like The Chronicles of Narnia a few years before, The Chronicles of Prydain approaches humanity with fun and whimsy, terror and dread that beautifully treats its audience as intelligent and mature.
For as much as Alexander shows you something on the page there is more he doesn’t. Younger audiences will appreciate the call to adventure, the scenes that touch on or have them face fears, the silliness of a bard, or the glory of honorable people triumphing over evil.
More well-read audiences will see the things not said. The cost of such triumphs, the deep sorrow behind the person trying to make others laugh, or the uncertainty and heartbreak of someone trying to prove that, yes they can, yes, they are worthy.
This is all cleverly disguised in wordplay, character behavior, mannerisms, or simply a small phrase made in passing. The writing evolves with us, our experiences, our understanding, and where we’re at in our own lives.
Sometimes, we don’t know how much we relate to something or understand our own thoughts and feelings until it is before us. It’s frustrating to ourselves and in turn, frustrating to others. Lloyd Alexander understands this and his character work shows it. His ability to translate a reflection of humanity to be consumed by young and experienced readers alike is excellent and over the course of the series, even the most annoying at first are expertly developed into beloved individuals.
While some of the themes are merely touched on, or tropes subverted, they are done in a way that is genuine, and real, and reinforces what makes stories so good. Using fiction with incredible, dramatic, and unusual circumstances to help us interact with the real world and each other.