Lloyd Alexander, author of the six-book Chronicles of Prydain series (from which Disney drew The Black Cauldron) died last week at the age of 83. This quote offers one of the keys to the quality that made his work superior:
I used the imaginary kingdom not as a sentimentalized fairyland, but as an opening wedge to express what I hoped would be some very hard truths. I never saw fairy tales as an escape or a cop-out. . . . On the contrary, speaking for myself, it is the way to understand reality.
I read the Prydain books at a fairly early age, and they make for a very interesting contrast with Evangeline Walton’s takes on the same source material — the Welsh folk tales collected as The Mabinogion. Like Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea novels, the Prydain books are the natural next step for young readers looking for somewhere else to go after Harry Potter.