Five years ago today, Lloyd Alexander died.
I was visiting my parents at the time (I don’t remember why). I was checking my email on Mom’s computer when I saw the news.
I was devastated. Numb. I just sat there in Mom’s chair and stared at the computer screen. It didn’t seem possible. I spent much of that day in a daze, trying to come to grips with it. Thankfully, my parents understood completely – Mom even told me that she’d felt much the same when Agatha Christie died, that same sense of losing a close friend, even though it was a person she’d never met.
But that was the thing with Lloyd: he was a friend to every one of his readers. He didn’t just create some of my favorite heroes and heroines; he was a hero, himself, to me, simply for his honesty, his humor, and his love for adventure.
I’ve written before about the tremendous influence Lloyd has been, both on my writing and on the way I try to live my life. On my very approach to life, really. His writing is wonderful for children, who are still trying to figure out the world and where they fit in it. It’s just as wonderful for adults who need to remember the deep joy and magic that can be found simply in the grand adventure of life itself (that sentence sounds pompous. Don’t worry, Lloyd’s books are never pompous). His heroes smash every popular idea of what heroism is all about, and they do it while still remaining joyous and real. Just look at some of the quotes from the Prydain Chronicles:
“In some cases,” he said, “we learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.”
“There is much to be known,” said Adaon, “and above all much to be loved, be it the turn of the seasons or the shape of a river pebble. Indeed, the more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts.”
“Is there not glory enough in living the days given to us? You should know there is adventure in simply being among those we love and the things we love, and beauty, too.”
“This much have I learned: A man’s life weighs more than glory, and a price paid in blood is a heavy reckoning.”
And this, my favorite:
“I have learned there is greater honor in a field well plowed than in a field steeped in blood.” (Oh, Adaon!)
If someday I can write books that bring half as much joy and inspiration to people as he did, I will consider my life well lived. When I heard that today was being informally dubbed Lloyd Alexander Day, I knew I had to participate. How could I not join in honoring the man who has had the greatest hand in shaping the type of writer I am, the type of stories I love, the type of hero I want to be?
I have written a few stories posted on ff.net in the Lloyd Alexander section. If you’ve read all of his own works and are looking for something more, I humbly offer my own attempts. Amaranth is based on The Arkadians; Night Phantoms is a surprisingly (at least, it was a surprise to me) melancholy glimpse into King Smoit’s character; Magic of the Heart looks at what life in Prydain might have been life for the generation after the events of The High King, as seen through the eyes of Taran’s youngest daughter.
If you’re interested in more Lloyd Alexander fanfic, do check out any of the writers in that section of ff.net; I especially recommend anything by Companion Wanderer and Adaon45.
Above all, read something Lloyd himself wrote! And then go plant some turnips in honor of Coll.
And I leave you with some others of my favorite quotes from Lloyd …
“All that writers can do is keep trying to say what is deepest in their hearts. ”
“I intend to follow the path of virtue. It will not be overcrowded.”
“You have a point,” said Fronto, “and even a poet must occasionally bow to logic.”
“You’re showing mercy.” Catch-a-Tick nodded. “That’s heroic, too. But not as good as smiting.”
“If a storyteller worried about the facts – my dear Lucian, how could he ever get at the truth?”
“The journey is the treasure.”