cover image The Arkadians

The Arkadians

Lloyd Alexander. Dutton Books, $17.99 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45415-1

Lucian flees corrupt palace officials in pre-classical Greece, his flight becoming a quest to discover his role in life. Soon, he's trying to help a second-rate poet turned donkey regain human form. Roaming the land, he also gets caught up in the great conflict between followers of the mother goddess and believers in the Olympian pantheon. Fortunately, he has the help of Joy-in-the-Dance, a young prophetess, in a relationship strikingly similar to that of Taran and Eilonwy in Alexander's five-volume Prydain Chronicles. And like the Prydain novels, this adventure draws heavily on a great body of myths and legends. Perhaps to accommodate the constraints of a single volume, Alexander relays many myths in comic, de-bunked forms-he shows poets transforming a clan of horse-riders into centaurs, a skilled mariner separated from his barmaid love into the epic hero Odysseus. Even with much of the raw material developed only minimally, the result is a good, involving story. Readers already acquainted with Greek literature and legend will enjoy picking out familiar threads. Ages 10-up. (June)