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The High King (The Chronicles of Prydain) Paperback – May 16, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Chronicles of Prydain (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; First Henry Holt Paperback Edition edition (May 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080508052X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805080520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Greater, more disastrous, and demanding more courage are the battles into which Taran leads his followers against Arawn Death-Lord.... The book has the philosophical depth and overtones of great fantasy." --The Horn Book
"The last may be the best."--Kirkus Reviews

From the Publisher

When the sword of dyrnwyn, the most powerful weapon inthe kingdom of Prydain, falls into the hands of Arawn-Death-Lord, Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, and Prince Gwydion raise an army to march against Arawn's terrible cohorts. After a winter expedition filled with danger, Taran's army arrives at Mount Dragon, Arawn's stronghold. There, in a thrilling confrontation with Arawn and the evil enchantress Achren, Taran is forced to make the most crucial decision of his life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

Characters that are heroic, selfless and romantic.
I read this book as a kid before I had read any of the previous books in the series.
David Eddings
This book answers all the the questions the previous four books left you with.
Skyler Cullitan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm always fascinated by books and movies that are parts of larger series, and yet win major awards entirely on their own. A good recent example of this might be the third part of the "Lord of the Rings" films winning the Oscar. Similarly, the final book in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles won the coveted Newbery Award. I pity the graduate film and literature students that discover these award winners without having seen/read their predecessors. Fortunately, "The High King" doesn't require too much backstory or catching up. If you are reading this book on its own you'll undoubtedly be annoyed by its continual references to characters or situations you're not personally familiar with. My advice is not to begin with this, the last in the series. Find "The Book of Three" and carry on from there. "The High King" is good, but it's best within context.

When we last saw our heroes, Taran and Gurgi were finally returning to Caer Dallben after more than a year of Taran "finding himself" in the classic sense of the term. At last they are coming home, and to their delight everyone has turned out for their arrival. Unfortunately the joy is not for long. Prince Gwydion has been grievously hurt on his way to the party and his sword of Dyrnwyn has been stolen. Needless to say, this is very bad news. Soon the armies of Arawn-Death-Lord are marching and the time for an end to his reign is at hand. With Taran now a wiser steadier fellow, our band of ragamuffin heroes sets off once more towards adventures, traps, and triumphs. Old friends are met, new friends are found, and many good stout-hearted people die. Still, through it all our heroes never give up and the book is a stirring testament to the will of the average joe.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Lloyd Alexander said in a Scholastic interview just how painful it was to end the Prydain Chronicles, and he definitely does quit while he's ahead. Did I mention I put off reading this book for ages because I didn't want the story to end?
"High King" is the most mature of all of the books, a hard story that ends bittersweetly. The sword Dyrnwyn has been stolen by the shapeshifting Arawn Deathlord, and the various cantrevs (kingdoms) of Prydain are launching a military strike against Annuvin, The Land of Death.
A scarred Taran and his friends set out on their most dangerous journey, along with the broken sorceress Achren, who wants to get back at Arawn. The end is sad but somehow necessary, though it's a bit reminiscent of the "Gray Havens" scene in LOTR.
Taran is no longer the naive boy we see in "Book of Three." Having had plenty of adventure, the events of this book end his adolescence and starts his adulthood, as a strong man. Eilonwy is a bit less twittery in this book, after her adventures and training in the Isle of Mona. Gurgi and Fflewddur are... well, themselves, as is Gwydion. Dallben is perhaps the most changed in Taran's view--in TBOT he was seen as a finicky old man, while here he is the great enchanter we always knew he was.
Other characters, such as the lovable bear King Smoit and the great warrior Gwydion. There are some character moments that, I promise, will wrench tears from you.
Those of you who are put off by the old-style language of "Taran Wanderer" or extensive battle scenes, be forewarned: There are plenty in this. But it's to be expected in the final chapter of an epic saga, that you'll never want to end.
"Chronicles" is, after "Lord of the Rings," my favorite fantasy series, and the High King won a Newbery for a reason. Read, and enjoy...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Imagine a place of magic, good and evil. You're an assistant pig keeper trying to help Lord Gwydion destroy all evil in the world. You have three helpers one a bard who whenever he lies one of his harp strings snap. His name is Ffleudder Fflam. You have a princess of Llyre who's the last person able to read old scrolls and inscriptions. Her name is Eilonwy. Then last but definitely not is loyal and faithful Gurgi. Gurgi is a talkative creature. He calls Taran his master because Taran saved his life by feeding him.

One reason you should read this book is that it has a lot of adventure. For example, Taran leaves his home in order to help Lord Gwydion, the Prince of Royalty in the Royal House Of Don, kill Arawn Lord Of The Dead. He also wanted to find honor in holding off the deathless Cauldron Born. The last thing he wanted to do was to marry the princess of Llyre.

The second reason you should read this book is that it's a breathtaking book. The reason I say that is because he describes everything deeply. For example, when he described the Red Fallows he described it as "a bloody war field scarred with the souls of the fallen." Another example of when he described really well was when he called the river that was frozen, "a wonderland of white ice and snow.

My last reason for reading this book is that it's a thrilling book. For example when the cauldron born, you will probably wonder will they destroy Caer Dathyl, the High King Math's castle, or will they perish fighting the deathless cauldron born. Additionally you wonder if they will kill the Death Lord. Lastly you wonder if Lord Gwydion will be able to make it to the Death Castle before the cauldron born are able to hold off the rest of the army that the good side has assembled.
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