I first read this book as a child. It was "that book", a discovery, that I read and unexpectedly found myself drawn into a world that I had never been able to find before - outside of the Narnia books. The simple yet complex characters have not been forgotten in the decades since this book first captured my imagination. This is an epic tale where Taran, our favourite assisstant pig-keeper, Gwydion, Eilonwy and co. must save their world from Arawn Cauldron-born who has the powerful sword of Dyrnwyn This action-packed fantasy is the last in the series about Taran and his friends. It is a fitting, glorious end to the series. Couldn't wait to turn each page, only problem was I ran out of pages to turn. The ending is incredible. If you know a child who loves Narnia and Harry Potter you will win their hearts forever with this book and The Chronicles of Prydain. Definitely a must read for the young and young at heart!
The High King is the last of five in the Prydain chronicles, a masterpiece Fantasy work that deserves it's own genre. Taran finally finds what he's best at, to lead others. He rallies troops and fights the evil hordes of Arawn in the last battle. He must then decide between traveling into the west, to live forever, with his friends, or stay as king and mortal in Prydain.
The first time I read the book, in my teens, I cried at the ending, but it couldn't end in any better way. I went on reading all Alexander's books I could find (there is an abundance),but as good as they all are, they couldn't match the Prydain Chronicles. Read them, reread them and give them to your children!
Of course by now you've read through the first four books in this series, and you're dying to know how it all ends. Taran has come a long way - a true journeyman (Taran the Wanderer, the fourth volume) - but at least in his mind remains an assistant pig keeper. In this final volume Alexander puts a truly beautiful spin on the Mabinogi to explore destiny and self-determinism.
Written in a style that remains accessible to children but not at all Blytonesque, The High King really does tap into the mystery and melancholy of Welsh mythology. I think these books are a geniune achievement. I revisited them recently as a result of reading a newish print of Ford's translation. I wasn't holding out hope for much but honestly was knocked out by Alexander's ability to weave in and out of the original tales without comprmising his, or their effect.
Additionally, for me the mark of good storytelling is in reading books aloud to others. Parents, look no further for engaging adventures with which to hold your kids spellbound. And rest assured, you'll be equally motivated by the need to know what happens next.
All five books have garnered deserved recognition as exceptional children's literature. They put to shame the cut and paste approach of Harry Potter (that, lacking any genuinely imagined world, simply hacks bits and pieces from elsewhere to construct a fairly blinkered fantasy premised upon a mythic Edwardian England). And if you can bear to wait until later this year (2011), the collection is being republished in a box at a bargain price.
The sword of Dyrnwyn has been captured by Arawn the Death Lord. Without its power to protect them, the people of Prydain are at his mercy. Even now he raises a mighty host to once and for always bring Prydain under his dark rule.
Once again Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran, and his companions, Princess Eilonwy, Fflewdur Fflam, Gurgi and many others are called upon to prove their heroism and valour in a quest that risks not only their own lives, but the lives of all the free people of Prydain.
For 1000 pages I have followed the adventures of Taran and his companions and what a truly wonderful story it has been. A voyage of self discovery and an epic battle between good and evil and journey from Assistant Pig-Keeper, to a man who carries the fate of a whole land upon his shoulders. This final book brings the series to a thrilling and fitting conclusion that I both wanted to turn the pages of as fast as possible and equally one that I didn't want to end.
Overall: 5 Stars - This whole series is a true gem of children's literature that I somehow missed when growing up and is one that I am very glad that I have now discovered. Even though I have only just finished the series, I am already looking forward to reading it again.
Having first read most of this series as a kid of 8yrs and loved them, I have now brought my original tatty copies home to read to my 9yr old son at bed time. I bought this one as I had never read the final book in the series, having grown just too old by the time it was written. This series is loosely based on the welsh mythology called the Mabinogion, Wiki says ''The Mabinogion (Welsh pronunciation: [mabɪˈnɔɡjɔn]) is the title given to a collection of eleven prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts'' Growing up in Wales perhaps I felt a deeper attachment than I would living elsewhere, but the stories are based on very solid life lessons and wisdom that most good mythology distills and conveys. The stories are full of moral dilemmas, and many themes that ring true as you grow from child to adult, learning to know as best you can who you are and what you stand for.
I highly recommend this series as well written and ideal for both boys and girls, ages 7 to 12 years IMO.
I have read all these books and must say I was not disappointed in the least, from book one right through to this last one, the story keeps you going and the characters are lovely, picked the books up by chance and did not know what to expect, but they were well worth the money.