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Lloyd Alexander's five-part "Chronicles of Prydain" series (with an additional volume of short stories) are some of my favorite books. They've got the high fantasy of LotR, but no matter how much magic is invoked, the focus never strays from the always-grounded humanity of the characters, especially in the saga-long arc of how the protagonist Taran grows from a boy to a man. And while the prose is simple, straightforward, and easily accessible for late pre-teen readers, it's full of unfussy, preciousness-free insight and humanism. Just magical books all around.
Anyone else know/like/love 'em?
As for the inevitable "could it make a movie?" question... I've never quite decided. (Nor have I seen the heavily unfaithful 1980s Disney The Black Cauldron cartoon feature.)
Trouble is, the books aren't all that cinematic. The Book of Three introduces the characters and then quits/Taran faints during the big fight; it's sort of like A New Hope without the Death Star climax. The Black Cauldron has a more movie-ready plot, but nothing that cinematic really happens - Taran and co. actually wait in the woods during the opening attack on Annuvin! The Castle of Llyr is pretty movie-ready, I guess, but that's book three.
I've always assumed that the ideal option would be to adapt the series on TV, a la Game of Thrones:
give it a big enough budget to have it look nice, but don't spiffy up the stories themselves, thereby avoiding the need for epic battles and such. The end of Llyr would be a perfect end to a first season, and Wanderer and High King could make up the second. It'd still be pricey, what with all the scenery and Gurgi+Llyan, but that's all I got.
Alternatively, if one had to make movies, I guess one'd have to start with Disney's one actually solid idea, and combine the stories of the first two books. I've never quite been able to crack the ideal story outline for such a jumble (the key question: whether or not to include Ellidyr), but maybe someday I will...
Thoughts? Does anyone even know what the heck I'm talking about?