The first book in the Chronicles of Prydain pentalogy, The Book of Three was originally publish in 1964. I mention this as its age does have a bearing on the review.
By modern standards, the book is short, even for a children’s book (it only took me a few hours). It’s also fairly simplistic and contains many tropes of the fantasy genre that are now considered a little passé (if still often used). It’s by no means a paint-by-numbers story filled with stereotypes though.
Based (loosely) on Welsh folklore, it name-checks a number of mythological people and places, though Prydain is far from a fantasy version of Wales.
Following Taran, an assistant pig-keeper, and a band of unusual companions as they try to warn their noble rulers of a dark uprising. The length means the story rips along, while being packed with action and adventure. There’s no time to dwell on anything before we’re on to the next thing.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for digging below the surface, and while the characters each have their own traits and flaws, few other than Taran are given much examination.
For all that, I was happy to return to it and pick up again. More of a 3.5 than a four-star perhaps, and you can see why it would be a better recommendation for younger readers, but fun nonetheless.