The Cranky Old Reader

I'm a Goodreads refugee, looking for a new home. Old books for children, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and humor are my main areas of interest. I've little interest in books that were written after 1975 or so, and prefer books that are older still. There are, however, a few still-living authors that I respect.

The Arkadians

The Arkadians - Lloyd Alexander Lloyd Alexander is best known for his outstanding Chronicles of Prydain fantasy series. And deservedly so; it's a great series, charming, unique, and with a powerful and moving sense of morality to it. It is, in many ways, a Lord of the Rings for the young-teen set.For those who aren't familiar with Alexander, I should emphasize that he wrote most of his work before the modern craze for huge fantasy series and juvenile fantasy series (in both senses of the word "juvenile"). His work is far superior to most of the trash that's published as fantasy for young adults (or even full-fledged adults) today.Alexander has a very strong and unmistakable writing style. This is, generally a strength. But in some - not all, but some of his other books, the style doesn't fit the story as well as it does in The Chronicles of Prydain. Put simply, while I'd rate that series as a "5" overall, most of his other works would be a "4" or "3" (I have yet to run across a book by Alexander that I'd rate less than a "3").I picked up a copy of The Arkadians at the permanent book sale at our library. I didn't expect much; it's a stand-alone book, and the blurb on the back showed that it was based at least partly on Greek mythology, rather than the Welsh mythology which is Alexander's strongest suit.I was pleasantly surprised. The Arkadians is strongly influenced by Greek mythology, yes, but with an enjoyable skew. The adventures of Lucian the one-time accountant on the run for his life, and of the friends he meets along the way - particularly Fronto, the poet who has been transformed into an ass, and Joy-In-The-Dance, a strong-willed young woman with unusual abilities - echo many elements of Greek mythology, but throughout Fronto and Lucian discuss "improving" them into forms much closer to the classic Greek tales.But that's beside the point. The point is that the story is well-told, and exciting, and funny, and touching, all at the right moments and in the right places. The one place where it might fall down, slightly, is the last few paragraphs; the story draws to a close surprisingly quickly, and somehow with less emotion than I expected. But this is a minor point. All in all, The Arkadians is a very enjoyable story that reads easily and well, a strong four. I will certainly read it again.

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