“The Book of Three” by Lloyd Alexander

:( I don't like this cover much. Too scary.
I don’t like this cover much. Too scary.

Embark on a rollicking adventure with Taran and his friends as they chase after the oracular pig, Hen Wen, while staving off the advancing army of the Horned King.

Quick summary:

Lloyd Alexander has woven a spectacular tale in The Book of Three, which tells the story of a farm boy who tries to save the world from impending doom. Taran has dreams of embarking on great adventures like the knights he often hears of in stories but Dallben, a wizard and master of Caer Dallben where Taran resides, keeps him at his dreary chores and lessons. On the day he is assigned as the assistant pig keeper, Taran loses his charge when the animals on the property are thrown into a frenzy. It was all Taran could do to keep Hen Wen in her pen. Hen Wen was in such a fright that she barreled Taran into the ground and dashed into the woods.

Set on his duty, Taran chases after her but bumps into the Horned King, a fearsome warrior that wears the antlered skull of a stag over his face, and his Cauldron-Born army (akin to zombies). The Horned King is a pawn of Arawn’s, ruler of the land of the dead. Taran barely manages to escape them with a slash across his back. Luckily, he is discovered by Gwydion, a high prince, who nurses him back to health. Gwydion is one of the mighty knights Taran often hears of in stories but in reality he seems nothing more than a man. It so happens that Gwydion was on his way to Caer Dallben to visit Hen Wen for a prophesy. But since Hen Wen has fled, he decides to help Taran find her and warn his people at Caer Dathyl in the north of the Horned King’s advancing army.

“It is not the trappings that make the prince nor, indeed, the sword that makes the warrior.” — Gwydion

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