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The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain) Paperback – May 16, 2006

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Frequently Bought Together

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Editorial Reviews


“The same characteristics that made the first book so rich are again present--a fine flow of words; an inticate, active plot; an admirable balance between the forces of black and white magic ... Once-in-a-lifetime reading that will assure Prydain a permanent place in geographies of fictional territories.” ―Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Taran, the gallant Assistant Pig-keeper, and his companions once again fare forth to destroy the evil that threatens their beloved country, Prydain.... A wise and wondrous tale written in epic fashion.” ―Booklist

From the Publisher

In the imaginary Land of Prydain, where "evil is never distant," it has become imperative that the Black Cauldron, chief implement of the diabolical Arawn, be destroyed. In this cauldron Arawn has created his terrible army of deathless warriors from the stolen bodies of the slain. For each of those chosen to journey to Arawn's domain, the quest has a special meaning, and to Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, the adventure becomes a glorious opportunity to wear his first sword and prove himself a man among men. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Chronicles of Prydain (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish (May 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080508049X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080490
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Few writers have inspired as much affection and interest among readers young and old as Lloyd Alexander. At one point, however, it seemed unlikely that he would ever be a writer at all. His parents could not afford to send him to college. And so when a Philadelphia bank had an opening for a messenger boy, he went to work there. Finally, having saved some money, he quit and went to a local college. Dissatisfied with not having learned enough to be a writer he left at the end of one term. Adventure, he decided was the best way. The United States had already entered World War II. Convinced that here was a chance for real deeds of derring-do, he joined the army -- and was promptly shipped to Texas where he became, in disheartening succession an artilleryman, a cymbal player in the band, an organist in the post chapel, and a first-aid man. At last, he was assigned to a military intelligence center in Maryland. There he trained as a member of a combat team to be parachuted into France to work with the Resistance. "This, to my intense relief, did not happen," says Alexander. Instead, Alexander and his group sailed to Wales to finish their training. This ancient, rough-hewn country, with its castles, mountains, and its own beautiful language made a tremendous impression on him. But not until years later did he realize he had been given a glimpse of another enchanted kingdom. Alexander was sent to Alsace-Lorraine, the Rhineland, and southern Germany. When the war ended, he was assigned to a counterintelligence unit in Paris. Later he was discharged to attend the University of Paris. While a student he met a beautiful Parisian girl, Janine, and they soon married. Life abroad was fascinating, but eventually Alexander longed for home. The young couple went back to Drexel Hill, near Philadelphia, where Alexander wrote novel after novel which publishers unhesitatingly turned down. To earn his living, he worked as a cartoonist, advertising writer, layout artist, and associate editor for a small magazine. It took seven years of constant rejection before his first novel was at last published. During the next ten years, he wrote for adults. And then he began writing for young people.Doing historical research for Time Cat he discovered material on Welsh mythology. The result was The Book of Three and the other chronicles of Prydain, the imaginary kingdom being something like the enchanted land of Wales. In The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen Alexander explored yet another fantastic world. Evoking an atmosphere of ancient China, this unique multi-layered novel was critically acclaimed as one of his finest works. Trina Schart Hyman illustrated The Fortune-tellers as a Cameroonian folktale sparkling with vibrant images, keen insight and delicious wit. Most of the books have been written in the form of fantasy. But fantasy, Alexander believes, is merely one of many ways to express attitudes and feelings about real people, real human relationships and problems

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A little darker than "The Book of Three", this amazing sequel deals with far more mature themes, including the death of a character and events that affect all of Prydain rather than just the immediate characters. Most second books are weak; this one, if anything, is far more multilayered and mature in its content. There is character death, and there is more political conflict.
Princes and war leaders show up at Caer Dallben with a mission: find the Cauldron that supplies the dark lord Arawn with his deathless, lifeless soldiers. Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, is elated that he will be able to participate in his first real adventure (since the last one was because of a series of accidents) with a sword and the respect of his peers. This becomes something of a problem with the arrival of Ellidyr, Son of Pen-Llarcau - an obnoxious and arrogant prince who looks down on Taran, Eilonwy, and Gurgi.
Taran, Ellidyr, Prince Gwydion, the dwarf Doli, the kindly warrior Adaon, bard-king Fflewddur Fflam and others ride off to infiltrate Annuvin, Arawn's lands. (They inadvertantly have to bring Eilonwy and Gurgi) But they soon find that the situation has become much more complex, as there are forces other than Arawn and Gwydion who want the Cauldron...
The story becomes more Tolkienesque in this volume. The language becomes a little more formal, especially for Taran. And Alexander doesn't shrink away from battle and character death - none of it is graphic, but it is deeply saddening. His writing reflects this, as it is far stronger and more beautiful than in "Book of Three."
The tempering of Taran, which comes to full in the last two books of the series, really begins here. At the beginning, Taran is an eager boy who wants to go out, fight, be a hero.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Imbri on January 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a sixteen year old girl who has been a fan of The Chronicles of Prydain for as long as I can remember. My father had been a fan of the books for years and passed them to me as soon as I was able to read them. I have read all five a thousand times and never tire of them. The adventures are always complex and exciting, and the characters are never flat. I have always appreciated the antagonists of these books because they always have reasons for doing what they do (like Ellidyr in The Black Cauldron), they never do things simply because they are bad, which happens all to often in books, especially in children's books. My favorite character is Eilonwy who has always inspired me with me with her courage and determination. Which brings me to my biggest gripe with the movie. Not only was the movie boring and urelated to the book except in name, the character of Eilonwy lacked personality, courage, and determination, qualities that were essential to the book character. So please, if you have only seen the cartoon, do not misjudge the books, and if you have only read the books, please skip the movie.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joy Kim on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this sequel to _The Book of Three_, Taran and his companions set off to find and destroy the malignant Black Cauldron. The cauldron must be destroyed because it is the source of Arawn's deathless Cauldron-born warriors. Many of Taran's friends from the first novel return, and we meet new characters as well: Adaon, the son of the chief bard of Prydain and a wise warrior in his own right, and Ellidyr, the proud prince of Pen-Llarcau.
_The Black Cauldron_ is definitely superior to its predecessor, which was a very fine book in its own right. Its superiority comes from the greater depth of characterization. Taran is no longer a callow boy; he is struggling with harder issues that will resonate with many of his readers. Other characters face similar dilemmas--again and again, Lloyd Alexander shows that the answer to "What is a hero?" is a very difficult one. The plot moves quickly; it has adventure, danger, and emotional excitement to please anyone. Alexander's writing is clean and direct, and he is able to inject his trademarkj dry humor at regular intervals. Perhaps best of all, the reader has the consolation of knowing there are three more books about Taran and Prydain after this one.
I highly recommend this book to middle readers who enjoy fantasy and adventure. Alexander excels at creating strong female characters, so this should appeal to boys and girls alike. And if you enjoyed this, finish the series. It's a classic, award-winning series for a reason. And if you're looking for something to read after it, try Alexander's Westmark trilogy.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
I've been delighted to find from reading the reviews of other readers, both old and young, that THE BLACK CAULDRON is as popular with most of them as it has been with me--for the last 27 years. At 39 years old, I may be one of your older reviewers, and I still read this book. It was the first of the series I encountered (I of course gobbled up all the rest in swift succession)and it remains my favorite. Alexander's characters have been constant inner companions for all this time, and I am increasingly aware (as someone who is now trying to become a late-blooming mom)how wise this book is as well as how sheerly and utterly fun it is, and what a wonderful set of messages it gives to both children and adults. A real must-read for imaginative kids . . . and the kind of book you can carry with you forever. One of Alexander's great gifts as a children's writer is that he gives his readers characters who are recognizable, realistic protagonists as well as portraying others who are role models. As an eleven-year old, I was entranced by Adaon, son of the chief bard, who is a very heroic but also human figure, and I have lived long enough now to appreciate the truth of what he teaches Taran about the need to love the beauty of the world. Interestingly, the kind of autumnal wisdom of the book (it's set in autumn, and it has a lot of sadness and struggle in it) is particularly well-suited for the midlife crowd, if any of you older Prydain fans want to pick it up again. My life has been very difficult during the past decade or so, and having this book's wisdom and beauty remain with me has helped a lot, as has its marvelous humor.
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