Decades before Harry Potter and Eragon, a groundbreaking American author published a series of young adult novels that took their place, alongside Lewis and Tolkein, as landmarks in the genre of High Fantasy. His name: Lloyd Alexander. The books:
The Chronicles of Prydain.

Consisting of five books - The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King - and loosely based on Welsh mythology, the series chronicles the coming-of-age of its protagonist, Taran, an orphaned foundling. Raised on a farm as a humble Assistant Pig-Keeper, he dreams of glory and heroism. Well-meaning, but frequently hampered by his own pride, stubbornness, and ignorance, he is assisted in his journeys by a colorful crew of companions he meets along the way. In the traditions of most epics, Alexander drew his formula from classic monomyth - creating a story at once new and exciting yet comfortably familiar - yet this skillful author, in his own gentle fashion, also infused this epic with timeless wisdom on the true nature of honor and heroism.

I discovered the books in my late teens, a bit past their target age range, yet fell in love with the world and its characters instantly. In some beautiful tangle of serendipitous fate, circumstances in my life combined with the themes and personalities there to make an indelible impression on me, my aspirations, and my creativity. I have been illustrating them - unofficially, as my own personal labor of love - ever since.

I owe such a debt of gratitude to Mr. Alexander. Greatly saddened by his passing several years ago, I took comfort then and now in the community of friends I have built with other admirers of his work. Through his many readers, his legacy lives on, and his books continue to stand the test of time. I hope, in my own (very) small corner of the world, that my art and writings inspired by Prydain have served to point a few more young readers in its direction, or if nothing else at least spread around even a small amount of the joy I feel when I am walking within its borders.

If you are a fellow Wanderer, I bid you welcome. If you are new to this world, I exhort you to seek it out. You will be glad you did. Well met, companions!
Chronicles of Prydain cover art by Dawn Davidson