The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Read in December 2008
This was published the same year I was, born that is. How did I miss this delightful tale and only stumble upon it in my mid-40s?
Taran is a precocious bored boy with visions of heroes sword-fighting in his head. He dreams of leaving the small farm where he takes care of a prophetic pig named Hen Wen and lives with Coll and Dallben.
Something frightens the bees, the chickens and the pig so much that they all escape the farm and disappear into the surrounding forest. Taran is sent to find the pig and return her home. Predictably, he gets lost in the forest following the pig and spies a band of men lead by the terrifying Horned King. Taran barely escapes and flees into the brush, eventually finding Gwydion, a prince and one of the heroes he daydreams about.
The danger and adventure are non-stop until the end of the book. Along the way, Taran makes mistakes but learns from them and demonstrates he has the talent to be an inspiring and wise leader. He meets several companions and legendary folk who aid him on his quest to reach Caer Dathyl to warn the Sons of Don about the Horned King and his army.
A fast fun read.