The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
This collection of eight short stories is set in the mythical world of Prydain. They are all about events that happen before The Book of Three. Reading this before the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain will not spoil the novels (I've read the first two) though some minor secrets are given away. I started reading it as my "the kids are playing in the family room so I can read a paragraph or two before they ask me a question or want me to do something" book. The stories are short and quite memorable so putting the book down and coming back later is easy to do.
The stories all center around characters and places from the other stories. How Dallben became a great enchanter and Fflewddur Fflam became owner of an enchanted harp are told in tales full of mirth and wisdom. The stories are sometimes a little obvious though more often unexpected twists make for good (if not always happy) endings. The tale of the sword Dyrnwyn is particularly bleak but is so well written that it sweeps the reader along like a torrential river. All the stories are enjoyable.
My only objection to the book would be that it's a little slim (barely 100 pages) for a $6 paperback. If you buy the Prydain box set, it's a nice bonus to have.
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