I just learned that Lloyd Alexander has died. I remember the first of his books that I ever read--I was ten years old, and my father took me, sans sisters, to Toys-R-Us and bought me a book--The Black Cauldron. It was the only time I can remember that this happened, as my mother (liking book shopping herself) was the one that bought us books. I still have the very, very ratty paperback...
The Black Cauldron is the second in the Chronicle of Prydain, and is not my favorite of the five books in the series. But there are some books that you read as if hypnotized, emerging only with glazed eyes for more tasty snacks. I'd read and loved the Lord of the Rings, so this wasn't my first foray into the world of fantasy quests, but The Black Cauldron, perhaps because it was less "epic," engaged me on a much more personal level. Here's the review of it from the 1965 Horn Book.
Taran Wanderer is my favorite book of the series. It is one of the best books about growing up that I know of.
One of the most memorable scenes in the final book, The High King, comes on a snowy mountain pass, when all hope is fading. To keep the fire going, the bard, Fflewddur Fflam, smashes his harp. All night it burns, and as it burns, it sings. (shoot. I can't do it justice but it brings tears to my eyes every time) .
Thank you for these books, Mr. Alexander. It was good to grow up with Taran and Eilonwy, and I will read you to my own children.
Here is a full bibliography of his work, including mention of a new book coming out in August.