Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander

I have now read almost 900 pages out loud to get my 7 year old through the epic tale of Taran of Caer Dallben, Assistant Pig Keeper and erstwhile hero. In book 4, Taran Wanderer, he’s cast off his nomenclature because he doesn’t know who his parents are. And unless he’s highborn, he has no hopes of ever marrying the Princess Eilonwy, who loves him in return but isn’t free to choose her own future.

While slower paced than the other books, Taran Wanderer isn’t without action. A roving band of marauders provide an ongoing sense of menace, and an evil wizard nearly brings an end to it all. But the emotional focus of the book is on Taran’s inner journey to know himself, and Alexander does a masterful job at delving all the available emotional and philosophical depths available, without lapsing into mumbo jumbo. I was moved by Taran’s plight and my daughter remained engaged throughout. I’m so glad we shared this book together, because I think we both learned something from it and I can see myself talking about it with her even more.

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