I love Lloyd Alexander. I grew up reading his Chronicles of Prydain and his characters were always among my favorite. So of course when I wrote my own books I used Lloyd Alexander’s novels as guidelines for creating lovable, believable, and cheerable characters. Spell check tried telling me that ‘cheerable’ isn’t a word. Well, it is now. Besides, you all know what I mean by that. A cheerable character is a character that you want to cheer for, that you want to win, to get the girl (or guy), that you want to live happily ever after. Lloyd Alexander had the amazing ability to turn any and every character into somebody incredible and fascinating, even if that character was on the low end of the totem pole.
One of the best examples of this is Taran, the assistant pig-keeper. I mean, honestly, assistant pig-keeper? The guy isn’t even good enough to be a pig-keeper. He’s an assistant keeper of pigs. How low can you get? And, on top of being an assistant pig-keeper, he lives on a small farm in the middle of nowhere. He’s not even allowed to craft a sword, and instead is taught how to make horseshoes…a rather puzzling exercise considering there are no horses on the farm. Only some chickens. Oh, and a pig that can tell the future of any person she wants to. But, other than that, he is a very average and rather awkward young man, bored out of his mind and convinced that he is cursed, something that he mentions in the first chapter:
“I think there is a destiny laid on me that I am not to know anything interesting, or do anything interesting. I’m certainly not to be anything.”
Well, that goes to show you how little he knew at the time. But, as the book progresses and he runs into many adventures and meets a lot of interesting people, his character grows a little wiser. He is always slightly backwards and maybe a bit stubborn, but throughout his journeys he is determined to become something better than simply an assistant pig-keeper. And, by the end of the book, I’d say he achieves that goal.
All that to say that Taran is one of my absolute favorite characters from any Fantasy novel. Ever.
So I put together an outfit in honor of my very favorite assistant pig-keeper. I started out by finding a picture of him. Apparently Disney made a movie out of the second book in the Prydain chronicles (called The Black Cauldron) and it seems that it was a horrible adaptation that didn’t follow the book at all. But I am still grateful to Disney, because now I have a picture of Taran.
So, carrying his picture in my purse, I went to the thrift store with my mom and we put together a modernized interpretation of Taran’s outfit. Here’s what I came up with, for about $22.00:
My Dad came out while we were shooting pictures and thought I was supposed to be Robin Hood. And then when I explained to him who I was supposed to be, he said, “Oh, so you’re a pig-farmer.” No. Assistant pig-keeper. Huge difference. But that’s okay because he said it was cute, so I guess I’m fine with being a cute pig-farmer. No shame in that, right? I don't understand how he thought I looked like Robin Hood, though. Don't you see the resemblance?
Okay, he's taller than me in that picture. Not cool.
I like this outfit for several reasons, but mainly because it reminds me of my favorite character. As a little girl, I loved the adventures Taran went on and I loved how he made himself into a hero even though nobody thought he would be anything other than an assistant pig-keeper. I always wanted to go off on adventures with him and his friends. I still do, actually. But I realize that, unfortunately, this is not possible. So wearing a Taran-inspired outfit is the next best thing.
And then there’s another reason I love this outfit. The green pants are Hurley. And I’m a surfer. So this outfit is a mix of everything that I love. Reading. Lloyd Alexander. Surfing. Doesn’t get much better than that.
So what do you think? Have you ever created an outfit in honor of your favorite character? I’d love to see it!