***Group Read: The Chronicles of Prydain (Spoiler)

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2010

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***Group Read: The Chronicles of Prydain (Spoiler)

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Jan 1, 2010, 5:31 pm

Here's where we can discuss The Chronicles of Prydain. Spoilers are allowed - but please don't post spoilers ahead of the reading schedule. Have fun!

Jan 10, 2010, 6:38 pm

OK, I'm done. When do we talk? <bounces excitedly>

Jan 10, 2010, 6:44 pm


Jan 10, 2010, 8:39 pm

I'm only halfway through (told y'all I'm a slow reader!). I'm enjoying Alexander's descriptive powers in this one -- the "repose" scene when Taran met Achren was especially evocative.

Glad there were no spoilers yet -- be back in a day or two.

Jan 10, 2010, 9:18 pm

It's the 10th. Can we discuss?

Jan 10, 2010, 9:18 pm

Yes, NOW! Sorry, was watching sports and getting ready to go back to work all day! Yes, the discussion is open. Bring some of those comments that are being scattered through your threads here for some meaty discussion.

Jan 10, 2010, 9:29 pm


I was a little disappointed in The Book of Three. I suspect that, being the first book, it had to set up too many scenarios. It felt rushed, and vaguely unfinished (granted, it's a series. It's SUPPOSED to be unfinished). I do like the story, though, and I can see the potential for the future books. It could be, too, that I was spoiled by the Susan Cooper books from last year.

Anyway, I am looking forward to getting into the series!

Jan 10, 2010, 9:35 pm

Yay! Discussion!

I enjoyed the books, but I didn't really like the pace. It was fast. I felt the book just jumped from one event to the other without really giving the reader any time to get into the book. And I love action in my books, but I always feel the action needs to be balanced by a breather here or there and I think the quick pace kind of made that impossible.

On the other hand, I adored the characters. Eilonwy's chattiness always had me smiling, especially in contrast to Taran's...I can't think of a good word for it. It felt to me like he was forcing himself to act like what he thinks a hero should act like rather than just letting his personality shine through. He has kind of a hero-by-the-book syndrome :)

I think my favorite character was Fflewddur Fflam, though. I loved his popping harp strings and thought it added just the right amount of light-hearted fun to the book. Gurgi was also a joy. I liked the change in Taran in regards to Gurgi. It didn't feel as forced as some of his other "revelations" (i.e. the lessons Gwydion kept trying to drill into his head).

Looking forward to the rest of the books and I'm excited to hear what everyone else thought!

And I apologize if any of the names are spelled incorrectly. I was much too lazy to get up and actually look at them in my book :P

Jan 10, 2010, 9:39 pm

One thing that really struck me was how much Gurgi reminded me of Dobby (Harry Potter's little friend). I was starting to think he was stealing from that series, when I realized his books were first!

Jan 10, 2010, 9:42 pm

I don't know if there's enough resemblance to call it stealing (at least, in my eyes), but maybe it was JKR who was...influenced :)

Jan 10, 2010, 10:39 pm

What I find is that the books mirror Taran's pace. Here he is impetuous, hasty, callow, inexperienced--and we experience what happens in the same way. And I think part of it, but a secondary part, was that elements for the whole series were being set up here, from the geography, important characters, and events that will echo throughout to the final book.

Jan 11, 2010, 3:37 am

#8: I agree about the pacing. It seemed to me to much of 'Taran meets so and so', 'Taran encounters x', etc. I was glad that toward the middle he started making decisions rather than things just happening to him.

Jan 11, 2010, 3:47 am

I must say, I wasn't very fond of this book.

As has already been mentioned, the pace was to fast, jumping from one event to another. Especially in the beginning, I felt as when you start work/school somewhere new and are being introduced to so many people, it’s just impossible to keep track of. It gets better, but I still feel as if Taran just gets thrown from one event and person to the next.

And Taran himself is not really convincing to me. Maybe it’s just like RebeccaAnn said, he acts the way he thinks a hero should act. But it doesn’t seem convincing to me.

As for Eilonwy, I find her a bit too stereotype girl with the quarrelling over everything Taran says (especially after the cauldron born has left the scene). Besides that, I think she’s kind of funny and kind of sweet and kind of annoying.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I found it very similar to Lord of the Rings, only in a children’s version. Medwyn reminded me of Tom Bombadil, The Cauldron Born of The Nine Riders (Nazgûl) and Gurgi reminded me of a much more likeable Gollum. And then there's the assorted travelling companions and the must-reach-goal and might-never-see-lovely-home-again..

Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books, hoping they gets.. well, fuller, I think is the best word I can come up with, and more convincing.

Jan 11, 2010, 1:03 pm

I also found the pace too fast - there wasn't really ever time enough to get properly excited, so am completely with RebeccaAnn on the need for a breather every now and then (or maybe it's just that my brain moves too slowly!).

Ronincats - interesting point about the pace of the book mirroring Taran's pace - that makes sense - and perhaps bodes well for the rest of the series?

I also spied the Lord of the Rings similarities - and generally felt that the plot just seemed a little too familiar and clichéd (Gurgi, in particular, I had problems with) - but then I think that this is partly due to when it was written. I imagine that at the time, this was not nearly so much the case. Reading Lloyd Alexander's note at the end of the book also made me more forgiving - a lot of the characters (including Hen Wen) are (loosely) based on characters from Welsh folklore (although not the story).

My reoccurring feeling was that I wish I'd read it when I was much smaller!

Jan 11, 2010, 1:26 pm

The pace definitely was a bit off for me. I wonder, though, how I would have liked it as a kid.

Reading it felt more like listening to a storyteller than reading a book. Is it possible Alexander was going for a "bard-like" feel?

Jan 11, 2010, 1:39 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Jan 11, 2010, 1:40 pm

#9 Now that you mention it, Gurgi does seem a bit like HP's Dobby, especially in the way he spoke.

The book did seem to move a bit fast. There were a few times I had to set it down and "catch my breath" for a little bit. However, Taran's journey was very rushed, so perhaps I'm feeling the way Alexander wanted me to.

I enjoyed the contrast between the characters. The book seems to set some of them up as opposites almost. We have Eilonwy who always says and does what's on her mind as she wants to and never stops talking - compared to Taran who does what he thinks he a hero should do instead of what he would do. Fflewdur and (oh crud...the prince, I'm drawing a blank, it starts with G) seem to opposites. While both can claim royalty, Fflewdur has abandoned his post and is off running around seeing the world as a bard. While G-- is talking his responsibilities quite seriously is off to try and save the world.

I also enjoyed the hidden valley in the mountains where the group rested and refilled. I think it gave all the characters a new appreciation for the world around them. It seemed to be a turning point for many of their points of view.

I enjoyed the book overall, I know the Black Cauldron is better so I'm looking forward to reading it again.

Jan 11, 2010, 2:31 pm

17: Gwydion. The name you are looking for is Gwydion. Like many names in the Chronicles of Prydain, it is drawn from the Mabinogion, although Alexander's Gwydion bears only moderate resemblance to the mythic one.

I'm kind of surprised that Medwyn reminds people of Bombadil. It seemed to me when I read the book that Medwyn is a Noah stand in. The Cauldron-Born semeed more like zombies than Nazgul to me, since they appear to have no independent intellgence of their own. If anyone would be compared to a Nazgul, I would think the Horned King bears some passing resemblance to the Witch-King (right down to both requiring a special method for killing them).

Thematically, the most important thing in The Book of Three is that Taran tries to be a hero throughout the book, and fails at everything he tries to do except get everyone more or less to Caer Dathyl. Similarly, Eilonwy tries to be a sorceress and her attempts fall flat, as do Doli's efforts to turn invisible, and Fflewdder's efforts to serve as a bard.

Jan 11, 2010, 3:45 pm

> 18
Medwyn felt both, a bit of Bombadil in his tree-like description, a bit of Noah (or Dwyfan and Dwyfach who survived the flood in Wels myth) in the remains of a large boat as Taran thinks he is seeing (and the animals). But for me also a bit of Merlin as he left the world behind (is that from Mary Stewarts books?).

I had no feeling the book went fast, Taran is falling from one into the next adventure, because he is like that, a young, inexperienced hero to be ;-)

And I think the resemblance with the LotR is because both Tolkien and Alexander were inspired by the same Wels myths.

Jan 11, 2010, 4:47 pm

>9 tloeffler: - Terri - I thought exactly the same thing when I was reading. Gurgi did remind me a lot of Dobby from the Harry Potter series.

As I was reading this book, the pace didn't bother me - although now that you've mentioned it, it was quite fast. But, as I was reading, I was thinking about whether my boys would like this book if I read it aloud to them. The fast pace would definitely be a plus for a nine-year-old boy, I think.

The character of Taran was especially interesting to me. RebeccaAnn, I like your description of his "hero-by-the-book syndrome." He seemed completely unprepared to take on the role of a hero, but he tried to cover it up by pretending that he knew what should be done and that he didn't need anyone's help to do it. I'll be interested to see how he develops throughout the series.

In my book, there is an author's note in the front in which Alexander writes, "Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we can do. Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart." I have felt like this lots of times in my life, so maybe that's why I was somewhat drawn to Taran.

Jan 11, 2010, 4:48 pm

Good point, Anita. There were a number of British writers working from that same source at about the same time, such as Alan Garner and Susan Cooper, as well as Lloyd Alexander, and the Mabinogien and Celtish mythology in general was the mythos underlying their story telling, rather than simply being derivative of Tolkien's work.

Jan 11, 2010, 5:32 pm

>11 ronincats:: If that's true, then I'm very excited to read the rest of the books. I think that's actually quite clever on the author's part to pace the books like that.

I also like how Taran isn't the "chosen one", so to speak. He really didn't do much in the final battle. He wasn't the one meant to draw the sword (thank goodness, that had me worried for awhile). He really is someone who just kind of got thrown into the mess and his only "experience" in adventures is what's he read about in books. He's a different sort of hero than what we're used to and I appreciate that.

Jan 12, 2010, 4:38 pm

I like the thought of the pacing of the book mimicking Taran's pace. And I can also see how the pace would be just right for a nine year-old boy. It's not a perfect book, but I certainly didn't find anything in this book that would discourage me from reading the rest of them. When is the second book "due"?

Jan 12, 2010, 5:51 pm

We have paced them a full month apart, as of now, although that seems a little long to me personally. So February 10 for The Black Cauldron unless there is a popular movement to do it sooner.

Jan 13, 2010, 8:10 am

#22 My thoughts exactly - was extremely pleased that he didn't turn out to have Royal blood!

Feb 10 for The Black Cauldron is still good for me - it's taking a very long time for a copy to turn up at my local library ;o)

Jan 13, 2010, 8:24 am

I read the first book last night and actually really enjoyed it
**short delay whilst fire alarm goes off** Darn those fire drills
Anyway I agree somewhat with those who said that the pacing was just too fast - I did zip through the book in a couple of hours and it did feel like we were being dragged from one event to the next without pausing for a little while. The bit where they meet Medwyn was a slight lull in the pace but that was only pretty short before they raced off again. I don't have a massive problem with how quick it was because it was a very enjoyable story but I think considering it is a children's book then the pacing makes sense to keep a child's interest over the series.
I did like how Taran matured slightly through the course of the book and hopefully over the rest of the series. Eilonwy I found quite annoying with all her continuing chatter but she could be sweet at times. For some reason I really love Gurgi - from the start he reminded me of Gollum, albeit a furrier, less evil, more childlike version of him but with all his bouncing around talking of "crunchings and munchings" I got this very vivid image of Smeagol in the Two Towers grumbling about the lack of "crunchable birdses". I loved how even he changed during the book from the cowardly often unreliable creature he was to being quite brave and fighting with the others against the Horned King.

I really want to read the rest of the series now and weirdly I want to watch my old VHS of the Disney film "The Black Cauldron" even though that was hands down the scariest disney film I've ever seen- I want to see how that lines up with the books.

Jan 13, 2010, 10:01 am

I'm also good with one book a month. Classes start tomorrow at my university so I'm already waving good bye to my free time. One book a month will allow me to keep up with the schedule and let me get a little bit of other fun reading in as well.

Jan 13, 2010, 1:19 pm

I only just now finished the book, and I must say that I loved it. I did not mind the fast pace of it at all. I especially liked Gurgi as a character, but all of the characters (the good guys) made me smile. My kids loved this series when they were younger, and I cannot believe that I have never read it. I have to admit that I did want to see the oracular pig at work. I could not really visualize the letter sticks. Maybe that will appear in a later book. Now I have to find book 2. We have way too many books in this house.

Jan 13, 2010, 9:25 pm

RebeccaAnn: I agree with pacing this group read so we can fit in other books -- I started the book my son gave me for Christmas today because I wanted to be sure he sees how much I appreciate it before he goes back to college.

I agree with you too about Fflewddur. One of my favorite parts of the book was during the arrow battle when he stopped being a buffoon and took charge.

Eilonwy reminds me of Diahan in Time Cat. An amazon.com reviewer pointed that resemblance out years ago, and I've waited all this time to start The Chronicles of Prydain and find out for myself.

Jan 14, 2010, 7:05 pm

Just finished reading Book of Three. This was a re-read for me, although its been ...hm. a long time since I had read them last, so it was good to have an 'excuse'...

It was pretty different this time around. I remember relating pretty strongly to Taran when I read it years ago, this time around Fflewddur was my favorite character...I love his combination of 'I'm nice, but I've got a bad habit', the right tone of humor to the character.

I expected to dislike Gurgi this time around, because I dislike that 'sort of character' in other books or films. I was pleasantly surprised, though. I think because while Gurgi on-the-surface is THAT character, Lloyd takes the time to provide the character with motivation and depth. Also, he's not entirely 'clumsy sidekick to show how great the hero is' ...because Taran isn't that heroic himself.

What I like about the writing for Taran is that he doesn't 'instantly have the wisdom to make the right choices'...but instead has that teenage confidence he's right, and as that kind of confidence tends to go...frequently wrong about his assumptions.

I really loved the comment in the author's note about how we're all at some time another called upon to do something beyond us, and in some way that makes us all "Assistant Pig Keepers".

Jan 14, 2010, 7:28 pm

Regarding the fast pacing:
* I hadn't thought about it that myself, but Ronincats might be right...the pacing is faster in this one because Taran is pretty rash and simply charges into everything. I don't remember the subsequent books clearly enough to guess if that changes over time or not. :)
* Also, the intended audience may have played a role here, he was aiming for an audience that preferred a faster pace...
* I think to some extent this a style of Lloyd Alexander, I recall the Vesper Holly adventures being like that to some extent. Strangely, though, I don't recall the Westmark trilogy being that way...I think he wanted something a little more seriously paced with those.

Jan 14, 2010, 7:59 pm

>26 RLMCartwright: LadyViolet, don't go back to the VHS AT LEAST until you've read The Black Cauldron!! The Disney cartoon does the Series-of-Unfortunte-Events trick of conflating several themes of the Prydain books into one, so if you've forgotten it, give yourself a treat and let Lloyd Alexander do it first!

Interesting all these comments on pacing. I didn't really notice it being "too fast", and I have had trouble getting my 10YO to read this (even though it's right up his street) because he finds the start too slow... modern youth. Sigh. (Actually I think he's just allergic-on-principle to anything I recommend.)

This was a re-read for me, on the back of multiple re-reads as a child. I loved these books, but The Book of Three is weaker than I remember it being, maybe because I went straight on to the next book so had more of a sense of continuity.

I really noticed the LotR parallels this time round, having not read LotR previous to my other readings of Prydain. I think the point about the comparison between Medwyn and Bombadil is not so much the animals, but the being in touch with nature, and generally removed from the world in a happy sort of way; the time with Medwyn also gives the travellers a brief opportunity to recharged, in the same way that being with Bombadil boosts the hobbits in LotR (there are hints of Rivendell too, I thought).

Re. Taran being not really a hero, I really noticed this time round how much his speech contrasts with his companions: it's self-consciously epic, elevated - speaking how he thinks a hero and leader ought to speak, even though he's obviously no good at it. It plays off beautifully against Eilonwy's similes, Gurgi's mutterings and Fflewddur's boasts, and it says something lovely about his companions that they don't mock him for it (even when they're questioning his decisions).

And yes: JKR stole so much from Prydain... as well as many other childhood series I loved. It took me a long time to come round to HP because the books all felt to me like a collage of so many things that I had loved more passionately in the original.

Book 3 is where the shift really happens, as I remember it; Black Cauldron is scarier, but Castle of Llyr is where they begin to grow up properly. Can't wait.

>31 feaelin: feaelin, there is more Alexander to discover? Wow.

Jan 15, 2010, 8:45 pm

Oh definitely. Prydain is perhaps the most widely known, but in some ways the Westmark Trilogy (Westmark, The Kestrel, The Beggar Queen) is more of favorite of mine. My wife is a fan of the Vesper Holly series, which begins with The Illyrian Adventure. Both of those aren't precisely fantasy, but straight up adventure.

Westmark is 'heavier/darker' (as Lloyd Alexander goes), set a fictional country that has the flavor of 18th century Europe. I'd say more but I'm not sure I've read it recently enough to talk carefully around any spoilers. :)

The Vesper Holly books are adventures set in the victorian era, whose main character is decidedly unconventional.

Jan 16, 2010, 5:36 am

I loved these books as a child and have only just found this thread.

On the pace, that's really interesting. The inscription in my copy says I was given The Book of Three on my 7th birthday and, while I'm sure I did read it by myself at some time, my main memory is of having it read to me at bedtime by my Dad (with voices etc - he did such a good Gurgi you can't imagine!!!) At a chapter a night, the pace is probably rather more manageable.
When I re-read it a few months ago, to see if it was suitable for my nephew who's now 9, I did find the pace rather hectic and was amazed at my ability to follow it - but follow it I did.
Princess Eilonwy was my role model! Maybe it's a bit dated; maybe it's not very subtle, I don't know. But when I was 7, Princess Eilonwy was all I wanted to be! A proper heroine who talks too much - just what I needed !
I'll re-read the Black Cauldron for next month - I seem to remember it being better, although rather dark. As the books go on, I think they become deeper and the culture and legends become more filled out, which I've always enjoyed.


Jan 18, 2010, 8:13 pm

Gonna jump in late here, but I loved how this book had the same believable feel as Tolkein. I think whereas Tolkein had an insane amount of planned background, history, and language sorted out for his world, Prydain feels very built off of Welsh to me, which is why I find them both very convincing? Maybe.
There were so many parallels between the two, as mentioned, though I found Medwyn more like Beorn than Bombadil. And yes! As others have already mentioned, I was SO relieved when Taran was not the one destined to draw Eilonwy's sword.

Jan 21, 2010, 2:27 pm

It occurs to me that the similarities in storyline and character always occur when you are dealing with folk tales, myths, and, especially, fantasy fiction. Mary Stewart certainly dealt quite nicely with an established story about Arthur and Merlin, but made it her own. If an author manages to do that--create characters "a lot like" but still distinguishable, for me--that author succeeded in writing the story in a fresh way. And LOL--just reading the cover blurb to Anna Karenina reminded me of Madame Bovary--maybe it's just that great ideas frequently recur.

Jan 21, 2010, 2:29 pm

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before."
--Willa Cather

Jan 21, 2010, 2:37 pm

And oh so true about the movies and television--LOL!

Jan 22, 2010, 12:32 pm

#36 I agree - particularly regarding Mary Stewart and the Arthurian legends - ever since I read The Crystal Cave (in particular), her Merlin is the real Merlin for me.

Jan 22, 2010, 5:26 pm

I'm also coming to this discussion late. I just finished the book today, and I think I actually appreciated the fast pace. While the character depth was a bit lacking due to the charging through of events, I think that this sort of book needs a quite burst of energy to start of a series and get young readers hooked.

Ditto on the Lord of the Rings parallels. I was struck at the beginning how many characters could find a counterpart in that series. One thing that did surprise me, however, was how much I liked Gurgi. When he was introduced I immediately thought of Gollum, and was set up not to like him from the start. I thought Taran was going to have a Samwise-Gollum kind of relationship with him (which I found incredibly annoying). But, for some reason, he turned out to be my favourite part of the book. There was something incredibly endearing about his rhyming 'crunchings and munchings' and 'sneaking and peakings'; I felt as though he was giving a voice to my own puppy Binger, who has a pretty similar spirit of just wanting to please (and hoping for some food in return).

One thing that hasn't been discussed is the title. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more info on The Book of Three. I'm assuming that there will be more later on in the series, but I wonder why it was chosen as the title for this book. The Horned King or something similar might be more enticing as a title.

Overall, I'm looking forward to continuing with the series. I've discovered that the school I teach at has a bunch of copies of the series gathering dust in the bookroom, so I hopefully I'll have the second one read on time in Feb.

Jan 22, 2010, 5:34 pm

>40 wisechild: - Wisechild - I had a similar thought about the book's title. I wonder if The Book of Three plays a bigger role later in the series. (This is my first time reading these books.)

And now I want to meet your puppy Binger!

Jan 22, 2010, 8:20 pm

#41: And he wants to meet you too! Or should I say, he pretty much wants to meet everyone he passes on the street. Crunchings and munchings are just a bonus to lickings.

Jan 25, 2010, 1:15 pm

I have to wonder with the title being Book of Three, if perhaps it was originally intended to a trilogy...and tie the length of the series in with the magical book.

Editado: Fev 4, 2010, 9:11 am

43: I doubt it. I think the title is possibly tied to two things (1) triads were very important and common in Celtic (and thus Welsh) mythology, lots of things were grouped in threes, and (2) the Book of Three in the The Book of Three is about the past, present, and future, and to a certain extent, the series is about moving from the past, to the present, and finding the future.

Jan 25, 2010, 1:34 pm

43: I always thought this book title was confusing too. The Book of Three is important but wasn't the main focus of the story. I look at it like The Two Towers and The Amber Spyglass: two books whose titles don't refer to the main storyline.

I liked the Book of Three but not as much as the other books (except for Taran Wanderer--eh, that one was okay).

Jan 25, 2010, 2:41 pm

I've finished The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron--- can't wait til February so I can discuss that one with all of you!

It's so interesting to reread these books as an adult. They were childhood favorites of mine, too. I remember loving the faster pace of the first few books, staying up all night reading them under the covers with a flashlight.

I also loved Alexander's Westmark trilogy, which is even better than the Chronicles of Prydain in my memory. Anyone up for a group read of that when we're done with this?

I also liked the Vesper Holly books, and one of my favorite standalone books of Alexander's is The Arkadians.

Jan 25, 2010, 5:45 pm

#46: What are the books in the Westmark trilogy, Marcia? I would need to see if I can obtain them from the public library. I own the Prydain books, but not those.

Jan 25, 2010, 7:12 pm

Just finished The Book of Three and it was quite a ride for less than 200 pages. It's a fabulous entry into fantasy worlds, especially for boys, partly because it is so fast-paced. I'm looking forward to the next-in-order, but have my RL book club reading to finish first.

Jan 26, 2010, 12:42 am

>47 alcottacre: The books in the Westmark trilogy are Westmark, The Kestrel, and The Beggar Queen. They're very different from the Prydain books, but I absolutely adore them.

Jan 26, 2010, 3:39 am

#49: It looks as though my local library has all of those. If no one else is interested in doing a group read, perhaps you and I could read them together.

Jan 26, 2010, 10:27 am

I haven't read them for ages, but wouldn't mind a re-read down the road. When were you thinking of scheduling them?

Jan 26, 2010, 12:04 pm

I've never heard of them but I'm addicted to group reads and the books look like fun, so I would love to join in as well :)

Jan 26, 2010, 2:30 pm

I may also be interested (depending on the timing). Stasia, didn't you say something last year about reading the Garth Nix Abhorsen Trilogy this year too?

Jan 26, 2010, 10:26 pm

I'm up for a group read of the Westmark trilogy. My school library actually has all three (maybe I should check them out now so they don't get lost in someone's locker), unlike the current readalong for which we only have The High King

Jan 26, 2010, 11:34 pm

I will check to see if we have these books around here. I think we might. :)

Jan 26, 2010, 11:35 pm

#53: Yes, Terri. I am planning on the group read of the Abhorsen trilogy over the summer months: Sabriel in June, Lirael in July, and Abhorsen in August.

Jan 27, 2010, 12:17 am

>56 alcottacre:: Ooh, I was just about to start reading those in February. Now I'll have to hold off for a few more months. Much better to read them with other people :)

Jan 27, 2010, 12:20 am

#57: I will probably set up the threads mid to late May. Be on the look out! Glad to have you join in, Rebecca.

Jan 27, 2010, 12:58 am

Hmm, if we are reading the Abhorsen books this summer, how about we do the Westmark trilogy in September, October, and November?

Jan 27, 2010, 1:02 am

Works for me! Still allows time to finish both the Prydain books as well as the Abhorsen trilogy.

Jan 27, 2010, 8:00 am

>56 alcottacre: Ooh I wouldn't mind joining in *another* group read cos I bought my own copy of Sabriel the other day on pure chance and I still haven't read the other two books in the trilogy. That'll have to be my mission until June to scout out decent second-hand copies of the other two.

Jan 27, 2010, 12:26 pm

>56 alcottacre: Good! I used my B&N gift card to pick up a bargain boxed set of the books, so I'm ready!

Jan 28, 2010, 9:00 pm

I'd be up for a group read of the Westmark trilogy as well. I'll slide the one I don't have into my next textbook order. ;)

Jan 29, 2010, 4:47 pm

Okay, but can we work our way first through this one? I just got my second book in hand, and am looking forward to getting through this series. It's been a romp so far, and it will be a great recommendation for my nephew.

Jan 29, 2010, 4:51 pm

#64: I do not think we were considering doing the Westmark trilogy until after this one is done, Laurie. Marcia mentioned doing it toward the end of the year, starting in September.

Jan 29, 2010, 5:06 pm

I understood that--it just like there was a possibility of this discussion slipping away to Westmark before we're out of Prydain. That's all I meant. I'm enjoying Prydain quite a bit.

Jan 29, 2010, 5:09 pm

#66: Ah, OK. Sorry, I thought you were talking about the group read itself.

Jan 31, 2010, 5:50 pm

Reminder: Tomorrow is the first of February already! We will start discussion of The Black Cauldron on February 10, Wednesday after next. See you here on the spoiler thread then.

Fev 4, 2010, 9:05 am

Well I am late off the mark here although I finished the Book of Three a couple of weeks ago. I loved this series as a child, and still enjoy it today.

Lloyd Alexander's world is more imaginary than Susan Cooper's, so I cannot repeat what I did in that group read, and say anything about location of these books.

The names are usually borrowed out of early Welsh literature - especially the Mabinogion - with occasional minor adaption. For instance, Fflewdur Fflam is Fflewdwr Fflam Wledig in the Mabiongion - one of the three chieftains of Arthur's court (as StormRaven noted, Welsh and other Celtic literature likes having things in threes!)

It occurred to me that the way most people read Fflewdur is actually probably closer to the original than I was reading it. In Welsh the "u" has a short "ee" sound, but the "w" is a short "oo" sound - so Lloyd Alexander clearly changed the name for English pronounciation rules. Then again, you may not know that "Fflew" in welsh does not rhyme with the English "flew". The ew sound is roughly the sound of the "we" in "went" said backwards! (Any student of Welsh will probably notice that in Welsh almost everything is backwards! Although Welsh speakers usually point out it is in fact English that is backwards!!)

Taran is still the Welsh word for thunder, and likely to have been the ancient name of the celtic god of thunder in Britain (Prydain in Welsh). I like that name, and its use here always puts me in the mind of the biblical "sons of thunder", the sons of Zebedee who were renowned for bold hot headedness and passion (but also loyalty). That seems to sum up Taran in this book too.

Editado: Fev 7, 2010, 11:27 pm

I read The Book of Three from the The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander the other day and must admit that I was completely charmed. What a warm, cozy little fantasy story. Granted there are too many underlying stories to count but who wants to count when you are so enthralled with the story you are reading. I absolutely loved it!~!
It is about the adventures of pig care giver in a "netherland" with all the bads, weirds, goods, evils, and all that other stuff. It is so wonderfully written that I could actually see what was going on as I was reading it.
I thought that I did not care for fantasy nor YA reading material. But the more of it I read the more I realize that I do enjoy most of it. So thank goodness for challenges as I wouldn't have read any of them otherwise.
I realize that I should have read this one in January but I couldn't keep up with my January reading plan and so I am trying to play catch up now.
I hope all of you on the 75 book gig have signed up for the read. I think that almost everyone would enjoy these stories. I cannot wait for the second of the series to arrive so I can jump into it.
Enjoy, everyone.

Fev 10, 2010, 6:04 pm

I just finished The Black Cauldron, and I loved it! I thought that Taran matured a great deal in this book. I loved that he became a real leader.

Fev 10, 2010, 6:26 pm

I finished The Black Cauldron early and came here today to join the discussion.

The Henry Holt edition I read had a map and a pronunciation guide, which were extremely helpful.

I loved all the things Adaon (and later, Taran) saw and felt when they were wearing the brooch!

Fev 10, 2010, 7:50 pm

I thought The Book of Three was good - moved fast, characters were a bit abrupt, the prose was definitely children's book level. The Black Cauldron on the other hand, was more mature, the characters (especially Taran) were much more fleshed-out, and the story much more interesting.

One of the aspects of the story I really appreciated was the concept of a price that had to be paid and how Taran grew up to pay the price for the things he achieved. I certainly wasn't expecting that!

Fev 11, 2010, 4:29 am

I also enjoyed watching Taran mature in The Black Cauldron. Here're my comments from my thread after reading it:

The continuation of the Prydain series - Taran and friends go in search of the Black Cauldron of the title, in order to destroy it and prevent the evil Arwan from increasing his "Cauldron-Born" (aka zombie) army.

I don't know whether it was just that I didn't read this all in one go as I did for The Book of Three, but the frenetic pace that had me gasping for breath rather than follow the story previously seemed to have toned down a bit and, as a consequence, I enjoyed this much more.

Again, however, I shall say that, while a good read, it will never rank among my favourites and I suspect that a large part of that is to do with the fact that I didn't read it as a child - I have quite a few childhood favourites that, if I came to them afresh now, I suspect would no longer be such - there is a sort of warm glow you get when re-reading books you loved when small that can mask a lot.

Gurgi, I continue to be irritated by, as I also continue to find many of the characters (particularly Gwydion and Doli) just a little clichéd - although, as I have previously said, I'm sure that they weren't so clichéd at the time the books were written. This said, as I say, I did enjoy it. There are some great new characters - in the marsh particularly and I do like the progression of Taran's character - he is growing up convincingly, learning from his mistakes. I continue to enjoy the fact that (currently), he is just an ordinary boy who achieves things in spite of everything, not because he has some special gift or blood etc etc.

Anyway, I look forward to the next installment as this book felt a little bit like a bridge between important events.

Fev 12, 2010, 3:41 pm

I finished the book last night, and although I did like it better than The Book of Three, I agree with flissp that it will probably never be among my favorite series. I am late to this genre, and I think that the Susan Cooper books spoiled me. This one was still fast-paced, although not as much as the first. I think the difference between Alexander & Cooper is that the Cooper books were more descriptive, and the Alexander books (so far) are more action-oriented. Like comparing apples & oranges probably.
I was very proud of Taran's actions in this book, and like the rest of you, I enjoyed reading how he matured through it.

Fev 12, 2010, 6:24 pm

My first thoughts on reading The Black Cauldron...it's been about 10 years or so since I read it last, and I had forgotten a lot of the story. I'm so glad I read it again.

The evil Lord Arawn is creating mindless, undieing cauldron-born. The familiar companions from The Book of Three join forces with the greatest lords of the land with a plan to steal the cauldron and destroy it. Plans like this never seem to go well, and this one seems to be foiled from the very beginning. We are intruduced to a handful of new characters, I'm not sure if they will continue throughout the rest of the series or not.

I enjoyed this book more than the first in the series. Alexander has slowed the pace down, without losing momentum. I felt like I was able to settle into the scenes and enjoy them before I was suddenly rushed on. It gave many of the scenes more of a atmosphere that I enjoyed very much. I also felt as if I was able to get to know the characters much better by being able to listen to conversations.

I think that my favorite character this time around, has to be the dwarf, Doli. He was honorable, brave, complaining, and funny. Everything that a real person seems to have in varying degrees. I was glad to see that Taran had developed and grown, as has Eilonwy. The two still argue almost non-stop, but you can see that they have learned to rely on each other for advice and guidance.

I can't wait to read the third book. The series is exciting and I look forward to seeing how the furture pans out for everyone.


Fev 12, 2010, 9:24 pm

When I was reading this book, I was guessing that destroying the cauldron would end the "lives" of the cauldron-born, but I was wrong on that count. Is there really no way to end their misery? Maybe we will find out later.

Fev 12, 2010, 10:03 pm

>74 flissp: Fliss, I prefer to think of the characters as archetypal rather than stereotypes!

>77 billiejean: Very perspicacious, billiejean!

>75 tloeffler: Hang in there, Terri. We're not even half through yet!

I agree the pace slowed down here, and we see Taran beginning to mature. I loved the new characters we encounter, especially Adaon and Orddu, Orgoch and Orwen.

Looking ahead, the third book was the one I initially liked least, for some reason. But it is absolutely key to setting up many plot elements for the last book. Book 4 is my favorite of the series--but I have to wait till April for that.

Fev 13, 2010, 9:38 am

#78 ;o) that's a much better description...

I also particularly enjoyed Orddu, Orgoch and Orwen - but then I love whenever their equivalents come up in any shape or form in fiction...

Fev 13, 2010, 11:22 am

>79 flissp: - I, too, liked Orddu, Orgoch, and Orwen. In fact, I thought that all of the new supporting characters were interesting.

My one disappointment with this book was that I thought Alexander provided too many clues that one of the characters who went to battle with Gwydion (I think it was Morgant, but I had to return my book to the library, so I can't check the name) was going to turn bad. I saw that coming a mile away (although younger readers may need that stronger foreshadowing).

Fev 13, 2010, 2:30 pm

> 80 Yes that was Morgant.

I discovered the Chronicles of Prydain thanks to the 75 group of 2008.
Back then I read them from the public library, but as I liked them so much, I bought them all second hand last year, so now my own copies are read for the first time ;-)

This time I felt more compassion for the irritating, yet tragic Prince Ellydir, then the first time.
The rivalry between him and Taran is like two teenagers who don't like eachother and so don't want to share their time.

Again a nice read, I look forward to the next one!

Fev 13, 2010, 8:39 pm

#80 I also saw Morgant turning bad a mile away, but I agree that younger readers might be more surprised by the "twist." I was actually more disappointed that he was destroyed so quickly. I thought this was setting up a conflict Book 3. I thought that could have been drawn out a little more. Though I did like the choice that Taran had to make at the end. The idea of him joining Morgant or becoming a cauldron born seemed straight forward, but with the added pressure of Morgant destroying his friends, this seemed like a true moral dilemma. It would be interesting to discuss this with some of my students (grade 7s) to see what they would decide.

My favourite additional characters were the three enchantresses as well. Like others, I'm interested in seeing more from these three in the future.

Editado: Fev 15, 2010, 11:03 am

I finished re-reading the Black cauldron yesterday. Next month I will try to do the reading by the due date! I agree with other comments regarding the pacing of the story in this book, although to me it was more a maturing of the style Lloyd Alexander uses.

Plenty of classic plot elements in this story, and I haven't much to add to other comments so I will add some trivia:

Du, Coch and Gwen (or Gwyn) are respectively the Welsh words for Black, Red and White (Gwen is the feminine form of the word). By a subtlety of Welsh grammar (you really don't want to go there!), they appear in names as "ddu" pronounced as "thee", "goch" and "wen". C.f the name "Branwen" which is "White Crow".

Fev 15, 2010, 4:54 pm

I originally thought Morgant would turn bad, but then I decided Alexander was trying to trick me, so I was kind of surprised when it turned out he really WAS bad. So that was fun.

And thanks, sirfurboy, for the continuing Welsh lessons. It really does add another dimension to these books!

Fev 19, 2010, 4:55 pm

Well, I haven't finished The Black Cauldron, having left it in the consulting room at my doctor's, but I'm enjoying the series so far. At the time they were written, I was "beyond" this level of writing in interest, but I think they are perfect for the child who "hates" reading at a certain age. The adventure level is strong enough to compete with electronic games, and the books are short enough to complete for that type of reader (I know, I had one!). Will be back when I've finished the book.

Fev 23, 2010, 12:22 pm

I'm a bit behind the curve, having just started The Black Cauldron, but here are my thoughts on The Book of Three

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander is a re-read of a childhood classic, for me. It tells the story of Taran, who wants to go out into the world and have adventures - and then he does, and somewhat accidently becomes a hero. It is, obviously, aimed at children, and it's great fun to read. There are many amusing characters, such as Dallben, who has to 'meditate' frequently, with his eyes closed, and an assortment of kings who are decidedly not remote and regal, but who help Taran in his quest for the oracular pig, Hen Wen. An enjoyable read.

Fev 23, 2010, 12:30 pm

Glad you are joining us, humouress! Always happy to have another Dexter, McKillip, Bujold, Pratchett fan in the mix!!

Fev 23, 2010, 12:37 pm

#86 I also like to meditate during the day from time to time. :)

Fev 23, 2010, 2:29 pm

I have come to the conclusion that to truly appreciate The Book of Three one must read all the way through to Taran Wanderer and The High King. I'll hold off explaining why I think this is so until everyone else gets there.

Fev 23, 2010, 2:45 pm

>89 StormRaven: Aaron, I wholeheartedly agree. As I've said before, Taran Wanderer is my favorite book of the series, and there is no way you can appreciate fully the first books without the context of The High King. I"m looking forward to our discussions when the series is complete.

Fev 23, 2010, 3:04 pm

The only book in this series that is a re-read for me is The Black Cauldron. I'm excited to read the rest and can't wait to see how the story goes.

Fev 24, 2010, 11:26 am

Well, I got my copy of The Black Cauldron back, finished it, and then read nearly non-stop through The Castle of Llyr, which I have enjoyed the most thus far. Characters and motives are shifting into less predictable modes, and Alexander is doing very nice work in getting us to follow him through this tale. Very enjoyable so far.

Fev 26, 2010, 7:23 pm

I just read The Black Cauldron and have to say I enjoyed as much as I did The Book of Three, which was a lot.
I really like the character of Taran and also Gwystyl; especially since this series is written for a younger generation. I think that the author has provided very well for the hero & heroine of a youngster reading these books.
Gurgi has reminded me all along of a good and faithful Gollum from The Hobbit but then when someone mentioned Dobby of Harry Potter & company, I absolutely had to agree.
My only disappointment in the book is that just when Ellidyr was becoming a "good guy", he does something so heroic that we lose him. Damn!~! I could have liked him had he continued in his "good guy guise".
I find these books to be exciting even at my age and am happy that I did go ahead and buy them. Hopefully my grandsons will read them.
I am looking forward to #3; The Castle of Llyr and thank you for letting me horn in on your 75 book challenge group reads. I am enjoying almost all of them.

Fev 26, 2010, 10:14 pm

My only disappointment in the book is that just when Ellidyr was becoming a "good guy", he does something so heroic that we lose him. Damn!~! I could have liked him had he continued in his "good guy guise".

One of the long term themes of the series is the cost that the struggle against Arawn takes on the "good guys". If Ellidyr's death made you sad, I can only say that The High King is going to break your heart.

Editado: Fev 27, 2010, 1:53 am

Fev 28, 2010, 1:08 pm

#87 - Thank you!
#88 - I could meditate anytime, but my one year old + is just discovering the joys of walking, so I need to keep even the eyes in the back of my head open!
# 93 - Gollum; yes - couldn't think of the name (aka Smeagol). Gurgi reminded me of Gollum in his ''good" phase. Though my mental image of him is more like Captain Caveman. :-)
#84 - He got me, too.

Just finished The Black Cauldron - I'm catching up, but I've got to buy the rest of the books, now.
I have to agree, this book takes on a slightly darker note, though it's still fun, and, I think, not too morbid for children. There are new characters and old friends, different ways to become a hero or a villain and the loss of friends (and enemies). I feel the characterisations are like well drawn sketches (compared to the detail of, say, Robert Jordan's Aes Sedai constantly smoothing their lace-edged skirts); they may not have the depth of detail, but they are consistent, like chattering Eilonwy with her unusual comparisons, and are well written so you can empathise with them - I can see why she's always exasperated with Taran, although it's not completely warranted. From my completely adult perspective, it reminds me of two children who are constantly bickering for no particular reason - and I think bickering children would probably identify with them quite easily...

Mar 1, 2010, 9:09 am

>92 Prop2gether:: Is The Castle of Llyr heavily centered on Eilonwy? The preview in the back of The Black Cauldron made me worry that it would be -- I find her very annoying!

Hopefully she'll mature under Achren's influence?!

Mar 1, 2010, 6:33 pm

#97 It's fair to say that The Castle of Llyr is more about Eilonwy than it is about her adventurous nature and what she does when she travels with the boys. I found, however, that I've enjoyed it more for how the story progresses and how the characters are maturing. This is quite a fun series of books.

Mar 1, 2010, 7:36 pm

I agree Prop2. This is a very fun series of books and since I don't do fantasy, sci-fi, nor YA I have been so surprised at just how much I am enjoying the series. Can't wait to get on with The Castle of Llyr.

Mar 4, 2010, 10:59 am

#99 Yep, me too - was planning on beginning it tonight!

#89 StormRaven & #90 ronincats, that sounds promising!

This has been an interesting experience for me - usually, with something like this, I'd rush through the entire series in one go, but because of the group read, I've been pausing in between books, which gives me a little longer to think about each one before I begin the next - I think I'm probably coming to different conclusions than I would have done if I read them all at once...

Mar 4, 2010, 12:07 pm

#100 I agree. Having time to digest the book before grabbing the next is making a big difference. Also hearing what others think in between is giving the stories a different look or twist that can effect the way I read the next book.

In my minds eye...Gurgi's appearance has changed from the way he was drawn in the Disney cartoon, to a hairy version of gollum meets doby.

Mar 5, 2010, 10:37 pm

Reminder, March 10 is coming up soon. We start discussion of The Castle of Llyr this coming Wednesday, so this weekend is a good time to pull out your copy and get started.

Mar 6, 2010, 11:33 am

Haven't been able to find any copies, so I'll probably have to order - which will put me behind again. But then, I'll be able to get them all in one go, so I might (time and my children providing) be able to get ahead, next month.

Mar 9, 2010, 12:31 pm

OK I've finally decided to join in (was trying not to have too many rereads this year but couldn't resist). I read The Book of Three yesterday and here is my review:-

Taran, Assistant Pigkeeper, to Hen Wen the oracular pig longs to be a hero. Weeding the vegetable garden and learning to make horseshoes just seem boring. So when Hen Wen runs away he follows. This leads to a series of encounters with characters good and evil and he finds out that what he thought about being a hero comes nowhere near the truth.

This is book one of one of my favourite children's series — The Chronicles of Prydain. Too often going back to childhood favourites is disappointing but this is fast moving; filled with interesting characters and firmly based in Welsh mythology. Travelling with Taran, Eilonwy; Gurgi; Fflewddur and Doli is like revisiting old friends — comfortable and I am left with a feeling of real pleasure.

I'm planning on starting to read The Black Cauldron tonight and hope to catch up to The Castle of LLyr soon.

Mar 9, 2010, 1:22 pm

Good to see you joining in :)

Mar 11, 2010, 8:23 am

Yay -- nobody has posted yet, so I must not be too terribly behind (only on chapter 6 of 20).

I worried needlessly about being annoyed by Eilonwy in this book -- she was kidnapped almost immediately and hasn't been a big part of the action!

Prince Rhun is so cheerful; I'm enjoying him.

>84 tloeffler:: Once again, Alexander created a very predictable villain -- Magg was so obvious I thought this time it MUST be a trick, but I was wrong.

Mar 11, 2010, 11:45 am

Oops, I was so busy watching the first round of the big 12 tournament last night, I forgot to open discussion!! Come one and come all, The Castle of Llyr is now OPEN for discussion!!

Thanks for posting, Megi. I have to agree. Not only is Eilonwy kidnapped almost immediately, but Magg appears, does his dastardly deed and disappears just as quickly. I suspect that is why there is practically no character buildup on his part--he simply isn't around long enough. So, this still being a children's book, he is made very obvious. No subtleties yet--and yet one of the final scenes of the book preshadows further developments.

I suspect you are enjoying Prince Rhun in direct proportion to the amount he is annoying Taran!

Mar 11, 2010, 2:09 pm

I'm so glad I kept on reading these! The Castle of Llyr has been my favorite so far. You can see the characters maturing, but it's an evolving process, so they don't hop from immature to mature without you being able to see it happening.

Mar 11, 2010, 2:50 pm

The Castle of Llyr has been my favorite to date as well. The pace has slowed, the characters are growing, and, even if the Princess is not as involved as she was, she's still integral to the expanding (or, reducing) plot line. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Mar 11, 2010, 4:47 pm

#108/109: I agree. I am glad that Alexander makes Taran's growth as a character believable.

Mar 12, 2010, 10:05 am

I just finished The Castle of Llyr and I loved this one as well. What a great series! I should have listened to my kids years ago when they tried to get me to read them.

I made wrong predictions in this book. I thought that Eilonwey would use the book of spells to make the cat small again. But I must say that I was happy about the result for the cat, because I was feeling quite sorry for it on the river earlier. I was surprised by the end of the book of spells. And I don't know what to think about Achren at the end. Kind of dual bad guys here with Achren and Arawn of Annuvin. I am looking forward to the next book, which I hear is great!

Mar 13, 2010, 7:13 am

The adventure seems smaller, the characters grow faster and important lessons are learned.
An other enjoyable book in the series!

Mar 13, 2010, 9:59 am

Agreed. I'm liking each book more than the last, which is a good trend! Watching the growing up process is interesting from the other side of the teenage years.

Mar 13, 2010, 12:39 pm

I have enjoyed this book of the series the most so far. I, too, enjoyed the way we see them finally developing. They are becoming "grown up".

Mar 13, 2010, 1:11 pm

I agree with everyone that it has been nice to see the progression of the characters, especially Taran. I don't think, however, I could call this my favourite of the series. I know some find Eilonwey quite annoying, but I was looking forward to her being able to do more instead of being a tag-along. She did get a moment to shine at the end of the book, but I was hoping for a little more of a 'girl power' moment where she would take Achren on. Instead the action fell a little flat for me. I think I'm sticking with the Black Cauldron as my favourite so far (Orddu, Orgoch and Orwen have been my favourite characters). But some seem to say that Taran Wanderer is the best...so I'm looking forward to it!

Mar 13, 2010, 5:32 pm

Agreed with the others above. The characters grow nicely in this story and become somewhat more adult I think. I like the setting of this story - Lloyd Alexander only takes inspiration from Wales, but the inspiration for Mona is quite obvious and put me strongly in mind of Anglesey.

Editado: Mar 15, 2010, 8:02 am

I loved the island setting, too. And Llyan was so much fun -- Alexander creates terrific feline characters!

I finally realized who Gurgi reminds me of: Grover from Sesame Street.

Can't wait to see how all the loose ends wind up: Rhun, Achren, even Glew.

Mar 15, 2010, 8:55 am

Love the Grover comparison and so right!

Mar 15, 2010, 9:20 am

I agree. I have a picture of a combination of Cookie Monster & Grover in my head every time Gurgi shows up.

Editado: Mar 15, 2010, 3:00 pm

This is definitely my favourite to date (my comments here) and I loved Queen Teleria.

I can see why those of you who have already read the whole series say that it's best taken as a whole - the previous books continue to gain perspective with each book I read and I'm enjoying the development of the characters as they grow up.

Still find Gurgi irritating though ;o)

Mar 17, 2010, 7:02 pm

Are we on Taran Wanderer yet? My mind is a muddle.

Mar 17, 2010, 10:09 pm

I thought that one was for April 10? Someone please tell me I'm right--my "short" stack of must-reads is no longer very short!

Mar 17, 2010, 10:25 pm

Yes, Terri, you are right. We are on The Castle of Llyr this month, and discussion of Taran Wanderer starts on April 10.

Abr 3, 2010, 9:03 pm

Reminder! Here it is the 3rd of April already, and discussion of Taran Wanderer starts a week from today. Time to pull out your copy, or to acquired it, and start reading!!

Editado: Abr 5, 2010, 9:34 am

I am so far behind with this group read it's ridiculous - I haven't been able to find a copy of The Black cauldron although I have the rest of the series :S Eventually I may catch up but probably not before everyone else has finished.

Abr 10, 2010, 12:13 pm

Don't worry about it, Rachel. They are such quick reads that you could still catch up by next month if you can get a copy, and if not, we're glad to hear from you whenever you get them read!!

Abr 10, 2010, 12:14 pm

Discussion for Book 4, Taran Wanderer, is now open. I have been saying all along that this is my favorite book of the series. How did you feel about it? Why do you think I like it so much? What were your most and least favorite parts?

Abr 10, 2010, 1:53 pm

I really enjoyed Taran Wanderer and I agree with you, Roni - thus far, it has been my favorite book. I have really enjoyed Taran's growth as a character and he continues to mature in this book. He reminds me of my girls - first he wants to try one thing, then another, and another - just like normal teenagers & young adults do. He succeeds at some things, fails at others. My least favorite part of the book is the part with his purported father, Craddock (sp?), just because Taran was so miserable.

Editado: Abr 11, 2010, 2:41 pm

I actually liked Gurgi very much in this one -- he was one heroic mouse! He was a competent Assistant Sheep Keeper, too, when he got the opportunity.

At the risk of being repetititive, it was a relief not to have Eilonwy's jabbering and ".... is just like ...." comments going on all the time. Why, I actually missed her just a bit (as Alexander hoped in his foreword).

It was heartwarming when Taran said his sword was girded on by "the one I love" (although I think his falling in love with her was a bit abrupt and unexplained -- it seemed to me that it resulted from seeing her with Prince Rhun).

Taran making his own sword, cloak, and bowl was well-written: made me tired to follow all his repeated unsuccessful attempts!

Abr 12, 2010, 12:18 am

I loved this book! I have liked Taran quite a bit throughout, but this look at him as he "finds himself" was outstanding. What a leader he was when the town was challenged by a bigger, stronger force! So maybe those witches are a force for good and not for evil, after all.

On a side note, it has been interesting to me to see the giant cat. For some reason, I thought that it would shrink down like Glew did once the method was found. But I kind of like that it is still big.

So sad that there is only one more book left!

Abr 12, 2010, 11:00 am

Just realised that I read Taren Wanderer ahead of time, so I haven't commented yet, but I agree with one and all that this was the best so far. Here's the comments I left on my thread:

Best so far. Definitely. I find it very pleasing that although, throughout the series, the baddies are always very obviously baddies and you're led extremely rapidly through a not wholly unexpected plot, Lloyd Alexander doesn't always go for the cliché with Taran at least (yes, this does diverge slightly from my original opinion). Looking forward to the final installment...

#128 I actually quite liked the bit with Craddock - the fact that Taran struggles quite hard with himself to accept his perceived lot in life - I thought that that was very convincing, given his his fascination with all things heroic.

I'll also say that I found reading this one very satisfactory - I've been waiting the entire series for him to find out who he is and where he comes from and I particularly appreciated that he didn't turn out to be some long lost prince (although I suppose he may well yet - I really hope not) and that his real discovery was himself.

Editado: Abr 12, 2010, 3:56 pm

Like most everyone else, I liked Taran Wanderer quite a bit, especially the maturing side of Taran. And I really liked that Alexander didn't take the easy way out and resolve the question of Taran's heritage. The future-looking ending was so much a better choice!

ETA: the word "most" so that my comment doesn't presume too much. 8^}

Abr 12, 2010, 3:29 pm

Well, count me out of the "favorite of the series" list for Taran Wanderer. While I enjoyed the book as part of the series, I found it repetitious (i.e., Hercules performing all his tasks and having to relearn every lesson several times). Taran seemed awfully dense at times, but that may just be due to the fact that he's trying so hard to grow up.

The episode with Craddock was more revealing to me about how Taran has grown, and that is my favorite part of the book.

And, since I'm being contrary here, I missed Eilonwy quite a bit. If Taran shows his character growth in this book, it can be assumed Eilonwy, having been left with her "teachers," is also growing as a character. The fact that she's only mentioned casually was frustrating.

My favorite of the books to date has been The Castle of Llyr because, for me, it best combined the action and the reactive parts of the saga.

I am looking forward to finishing the saga now--and thanks all round for the introduction to the series. It's one I missed, and it's worth the read.

Abr 12, 2010, 6:36 pm

#133: I also missed Eilonwy! Maybe I just like her as she adds some female perspective, which was sorely missing from this book. I think she would have told Taran what's what, and not allowed him to sulk through the last half of the book.

I am on the fence about this one. I really really enjoyed it, up to and including the part with Craddoc. I was completely absorbed with the idea of Taran finding his heritage and realizing it was a disappointment. But the last quarter of the book I found a little muddled. His "wanderings" through being a blacksmith, weaver and potter just seemed out of character. I guess I got the fact that he was lost after his experience with Craddoc, but it didn't ring true for me. The ending didn't satisfy me; I found the confrontation with the bandit (I forget his name!) unconvincing and anti-climactic, given the nice action packed climaxes of the other books.

Overall, I think the first three quarters of the book were my favourite so far, but in the end I'm still going with The Black Cauldron for overall satisfaction. Can't wait to read The High King!

Abr 12, 2010, 9:55 pm

I'm chiming in with the "not my favorite of the series" crowd. It was good, but I also missed Eilonwy, and although I understood why he had to try so many things, it just didn't ring true for me. I'm sure they were prep for the big adventure in the last book (there IS a big adventure in the last book, isn't there?). I liked Gurgi better in this one too. I am very anxious, and yet sad, to start on the last book. *sniff*

Abr 14, 2010, 8:11 pm

I missed Eilonwy as well, but it was interesting to see Taran really come into his own. The quest he was sent on by the three witches seems very fitting. I also enjoyed seeing him struggle with himself when he still believes the herdsman is his father. Taran grew very much througout and Gurgi proved himself to be one of the best friends anyone could have. Gurgi refused to leave even when it seemed he would be better off doing so and struggled right alongside Taran throughout.

Abr 15, 2010, 9:09 am

I liked this book very much. I think my favourite of the series is probably the last (which benefits from wrapping up the big themes of the story). I will say no more of that bookuntil next month though.

This book was a more mature work than the earlier ones I think, and it captured some of the feel of the Mabiongion and other source material that Lloyd Alexander makes use of to build this series. The labours of Taran are an intelligent and well crafted part of this plot, that speak to the importance of perseverence. his inability in the one craft that he wished to master above all others - and the commentary surrounding this was well put, and demands some introspection of the reader.

Abr 15, 2010, 10:00 am

I may finally be able to catch up with the rest of you folk soon as my local library has finally found the copy of The Black Cauldron that I requested before easter (bless them they didn't know where it was in the stacks) So when I get back to uni tomorrow I can pick it up and bring myself up to speed in time for The High King

Abr 15, 2010, 10:01 am

#138: I hope you can catch up with us, Rachel!

Abr 15, 2010, 10:13 am

Stasia - I reckon I can manage it, I have the rest of the series and since the books are pretty short I should be able to rip through them fairly quickly ;-)

Abr 15, 2010, 11:36 am

#140: Yea, they are short, which I must admit, has saved me while doing this group read :)

Abr 27, 2010, 2:54 pm

I gave Taran Wanderer the same rating as The castle of Llyr, both 4 1/2 stars.

I missed Eilonwy in this book, but enjoyed Taran's quest to find his parents with Gurgi as his faithfull companion.
And good to see others we have met before, the three witches, Fflewddur Fflam and Doli.

Taran grew a lot in this book, tried some crafts, but felt his heart was not with the farm, casting iron, weaving or the clay.

Abr 27, 2010, 3:09 pm

142: One element of Taran Wanderer that is drawn loosely from Welsh myth is Taran's training in various skills - farming, casting iron, weaving, pottery, and so on. This parallels the story of Lleu, who in Welsh myth was Gwydion's nephew, rejected by his mother (in the myths, Arianrhod was tricked into becoming pregnant with Lleu by Gwydion), and surnamed "of the skillful hand" due to his superior abilities with numerous crafts. I've always thought that this element, despite the lack of overt information concerning Taran's heritage, was a subtle signal as to his background.

Abr 27, 2010, 4:52 pm

> 143: thanks Aaron
I am not familiar with Welsh myth so I looked up Lleu at Wikipedia and found some more information :-)


Abr 27, 2010, 5:00 pm

144: It's a very loose parallel, much like most of the rest of the material in the Chronicles of Prydain.

As far as I know, for example, the Prydain Gwydion does not have a sister, and the Prydain Math is not under a geas that he must keep his feet in the lap of a virgin whenever his country is not at war.

Abr 28, 2010, 3:13 pm

The foreshadowing is pretty plain throughout the books, although if I were reading this at the appropriate age level, maybe it would have been a surprise. However, I am enjoying the last book more than Taran Wanderer and will recommend the series to others.

Maio 10, 2010, 9:52 am

Discussion for The High King and the series as a whole is now OPEN!

Maio 10, 2010, 9:56 am

I loved this epic conclusion to the Chronicles of Prydain! I loved seeing every character come back for the last book, and I loved the ending of a terrific series. At first, I did not think I was going to like the ending of everyone going off to live forever away from Prydain, but, luckily, that is not what happened. I did think it odd that Gurgi was the one covered with fur, yet he was the one who was always cold.

Maio 14, 2010, 10:19 am

I finished The High King last week, and am still trying to decide how I feel about the series as a whole. I think it was worth reading, but the end left me a bit disappointed. I was waiting for a big epic struggle in the last book, especially for the big fight between Taran and Arawn, which was lack lustre at best. I also wasn't expecting so many to survive. I thought Gwydion was a gonner for sure!
I wish I had read this series as a child, as I think it would have grabbed me more. There are some things that work better for children and when you have nostalgia. It has encouraged me to read more children's fantasy however, which I didn't read a lot of growing up.
And in the end, at least I was thoroughly entertained by Gurgi and his crunchings and munchings.

Maio 14, 2010, 5:59 pm

I have similar feelings about the series. I do wish I had read it when I was younger when the characters might have been a more entertaining read, but I was disappointed by the story's overall arc. It reminds me a bit of the Star Trek movies--the good ones are even-numbered and the poor ones are odd. I liked the first, third, and last books better than the intervening ones, and characters I was interested in seemed to given short shrift. The closing book was epic enough to recommend the series to a couple of children I know, especially as an introductory fantasy series. I'm glad I read the series, and thanks for the discussions along the way.

Maio 14, 2010, 11:01 pm

#150: I think you hit the nail on the head, Amy: an introductory fantasy series. This series was written for juveniles, so it is probably going to be close to their first taste of a fantasy series. I think as such, it does a wonderful job.

Maio 15, 2010, 10:20 pm

Now that I've finished all five, (took me until midnight last night to polish off The High King!) I can say that The Castle of Llyr was my favorite. Alexander portrays cats so very well.

The scene in The High King with Dallben and Pryderi and the one where the companions melt the ice to destroy Huntsmen were standouts. Too much carnage, though -- reminded me of Deathly Hallows.

Taran and some of the other heroic figures spoke in such convoluted medieval-ese that it got ridiculous. (p. 118 in my edition: "Nor more did I." At least Eilonwy's manner of speech finally became more mature in The High King.

I was hoping the marriage proposal would be more romantic and drawn-out :-)

Editado: Maio 16, 2010, 4:10 pm

I was hoping the marriage proposal would be more romantic and drawn-out :-)

I'll use this comment as the jumping off point for my comments on The High King. This post will contain spoilers. You have been warned.

If it had been the Taran of The Book of Three, it would have been more romantic and drawn out, and if it had been the Eilonwy of that book, she would have expected it. Both harbored romantic notions about life that simply would not mesh with reality. The overall story of the entire series is the gradual stripping away of these notions until they became fit to be leaders of their people.

The Taran of The High King and the Taran of The Book of Three are study in contrasts (actually, this applies to most of the characters, but I'll mostly stick with Taran, since his arc is the biggest). In The Book of Three Taran wanted to be glorious hero, he wanted to seek out battles, to have soldiers adore and follow him, and so on. But almost everything he did he failed at. He didn't find Hen Wen, he couldn't draw Dyrnwyn, he didn't even recover the sword, he didn't save Gwydion, he didn't defeat the Horned King - others did all those things. While desperately trying to be a hero, Taran fails time and again.

In contrast, in The High King Taran succeeds, but he harbors no notions of being a hero. People follow him, but he feels the terrible weight that leadership imposes. Everything Taran wanted in The Book of Three he gets in The High King, but he doesn't really want any of it any more. He does these things now not because they will lead to glory, but because they are necessary and it is his responsibility to do them. In the end, having shown himself to be worthy to lead, Dyrnwyn accepts him. But even then, he only turns to draw it because it is necessary, not because he wants glory or fame.

(Eilonwy making her bauble light go out is a similar decision - she realizes that her magic is not needed to be special, which she had clung to before).

On a further note, I'd say that even though there is a substantial body count in this book, I would not compare it the The Deathly Hallows in that regard. In Rowling's book, the body count piles up, but you simply don't care. It is an attempt to create false drama - "Look at all the characters dying! Isn't this scary!" But most of the characters who die are so minor that their deaths have no real impact. But when Coll or Rhun die we feel it: they were central figures for substantial portions of the books. The losses mean something to Taran, and to us, creating a much richer sense of drama.

Maio 16, 2010, 3:56 pm

> 153
I really like your comments Aaron, I had not looked at it in that way.

For me it was a beautiful woven story where all cords and characters came together for the great final. I did also expect a more romantic way for Taran and Eilonwy to come together, but on the other hand, the fact she wanted to stay with Taran was romantic ;-)

Maio 16, 2010, 4:22 pm

Hello all, just had a quick read through this thread. I read the series in childhood, and would have joined you in the group read when I discovered it, except that my childhood copies have gone astray and I have not managed to get hold of new copies in time. But it has been interesting to read your thoughts.

I enjoyed these stories as a child - first read them I think when I was about 10. I'd had the first book for at least a year or two before I read it: unusal for me not to devour a book straight away, but I was scared by the cover (it was the Armada edition) and that put me off it. When I read it, it was nothing like as scary as the cover implied.

Unlike some of my other childhood fantasy favourites, I have never re-read this series in adulthood, though I must have read them 2 or 3 times as a child. I'd still like to get hold of copies again to see how well they stand up, and having since studied some of the Welsh stories and myths from which Alexander draws names and motifs. It was partly because I'd enjoyed books like this that I chose my undergraduate degree course (Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic )- which gave me the chance to indulge in reading legends and myths full-time.

Maio 18, 2010, 4:55 pm

I'm glad I read this series, but it wasn't one of my favorites. I like the way it ended in The High King, although I was surprised and disappointed at the deaths. The series is, I think, more about growing up than about fantasy per se, and in that, it does a very good job. Some of the characters were better drawn than others, and the dialogue got a little too odd at times (WAY too many exclamation marks, and people "cried" too much). Still, no regrets. Thanks, whoever, for starting it.

Now on to the Abhorsen trilogy.

Maio 21, 2010, 9:09 am

I finally caught up with this group read after falling behind back at The Black Cauldron.

I still think that Taran Wanderer is my favourite because I always find the killing of characters in the last book (a la Deathly Hallows) saddening but I did really like how Taran shouldered the massive amounts of responsibility in The High King. The ending did feel a little like the elves all leaving Middle Earth for Valinor in Return of the King but I was surprised at Taran's choosing to stay behind and although his marriage proposal to Eilonwy was pretty short (and her reply so typically Eilonwy-ish) it was really sweet how she wanted to stay with him as well.

I've really enjoyed doing this group read and glad I had a chance to read this series which I never read as a child (being of a later generation). I still don't have my own copy of The Black Cauldron so I will try and find myself one for when I fancy a re-read or in case I want to keep the books for posterity.

As tloeffler put it on to the Abhorsen trilogy! (Dang I still need a copy of Lireal & Abhorsen)

Maio 23, 2010, 8:44 pm

I finished The High King! I'm so glad that I read this series, and I agree with many of the other comments about the way the series was concluded. I was pleased that Alexander didn't wrap things up too neatly. Difficult decisions had to be made, and Taran was up to the challenge. I really enjoyed watching him develop across the series.

Many of the characters had interesting roles to play in this book. I really enjoyed Doli and the Fair Folk in this book. When they melted the ice to defeat the Huntsmen, I cheered!

Maio 25, 2010, 1:04 pm

Just a quick note--I'm currently reading Bridge to Terabithia and was hugely tickled by the fact that one of the main characters "was reading one of Leslie's books, and the adventures of an assistant pig keeper were far more important to him than Brenda's sauce." Would not have understood the reference without this read--thanks!

Maio 26, 2010, 2:46 am

#159: Serendipity!