Review of small press and independent books.
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I just learned in the obits of The Guardian yesterday that Lloyd Alexander, author of 'The Chronicles of Prydain', died aged 83 on May 17th. (Whether The Guardian has only just found out about it, or whether he was only a fantasy writer, so they held the obit over to fill space on a day on which nobody important died, I don't know.)
The Chronicles of Prydain (beginning with 'The Book of Three', 1966) were an immense childhood influence on me as a fantasy writer. There was virtually nothing like them in the early 70s, and I don't think there's much like them now. On the five-book quest of Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, the fantasy quest is something that entails hardship, fear, blood, sacrifice and loss, as well as humour and exasperation; nothing is won without a price, and Taran, who so passionately wants to be a hero at the opening of the sequence that he is contemptuous of anybody who doesn't swing a sword for a living, including himself, ends up declaring that 'there is more honour in a field well ploughed than in a field steeped in blood'. If you've come across a Disney animation called 'The Black Cauldron', don't let it put you off!