Farewell to the storyteller who invented the Horned King

May 22, 2007

Lloyd Alexander was one of the fantasy authors who inspired me to write story after story as I was growing up.

He died last Friday, and I didn’t learn about it until today. What a loss. Alexander’s The Prydain Chronicles remains one of the great achievements in fantasy writing… not just for children, but for anyone. The Horned King became a permanent fixture in my nightmares long before Disney’s lousy (but visually enthralling) adaptation The Black Cauldron.

In fact, reading the New York Times’ reflection on Alexander’s career, I’m feeling an urge to go back and read the series again. Here’s a thoughtful excerpt:

For Mr. Alexander, the uses of enchantment were clear: fantasy, he often said, was a powerful way of talking about real-world injustice.

“In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar,” he said in his Newbery acceptance speech in 1969. “And an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.”

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