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The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain) Paperback – May 16, 2006
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“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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Top Customer Reviews
In this tale, the heroes are swept up in a quest to find and destroy the device, in order to stop Arawn from creating an endless stream of undead warriors with which to wage war and conquer. A rather ingenious plan is devised, and it <i>should have</i> worked, but unfortunately fell to pieces. In the end, it is once again up to Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper of Caer Dallben to save the day. In the thick of things with the young man are his steadfast companions, consisting of Princess Eilonwy, the King-turned-Bard Fflewddur Fflam, and their hairy companion of unknown species named Gurgi. They succeed, but the price is tragically high.
I have read that the books are more known for the personal coming-of-age stories and character growth than for the adventures, though the adventures are real page-turners. I have found this to be true. Though sometimes the companions in the series can be quite annoying, it is all in the pursuit of these stories of personal growth, so it is tolerable.
I will only bring up two areas of note from the book. They weren't really issues, so much as items that deserve comment, in my opinion. These involve the two most important protagonists, Taran and Eilonwy. First off, what is with Taran's Aesop amnesia here. Last book, he ended it by saying how desiring glory and excitement is not wise and doing your best at anything, even mundane things, is the best to do. For that matter, fighting and danger are not desirable, though sometimes necessary to prevent evil from winning. As this book begins, he seems to have forgotten these lessons, and is rearing to fight again, and dreaming of honor in battle. Let's hope he doesn't forget his lessons this time when the next book rolls around.
Eilonwy, Eilonwy, Eilonwy, what to say about her. Well, she is fascinating and hilarious, though a bit bratty at times. She is also, though, the first true example of a “tsundere” in fiction. I truly believe this. Forget the Japanese examples, and look to Princess Eilonwy for the a true original tsundere archetype. To note by way of explanation, the idea of a tsundere is a (traditionally Japanese) type of character, usually female but with more and more examples of males in recent years, who gravitates between kind and harsh to the object of their affection. As time goes on, they are less and less harsh and more and more kind. This can be towards the object of either romantic or friendly affection, and is the result, largely, of not knowing how to express or deal with their feelings.
I say she is a tsundere because she is kind of harsh, even when she isn't angry, and can't seem to settle on being nice or jerkish to Taran. Even when he isn't suffering from his terminal case of foot in mouth disease, she still is kinda rude sometimes. Two things make her likable though. First off, Taran's just-mentioned foot in mouth disease. If there is a way to accidentally insult Eilonwy, he finds it. Every. Single. Time. Secondly, she has grown from the somewhat likable brat of the first book to a truly likable character you really root for, in this book.
Of course, some good lessons are imparted as the book ends, but that is the charm of the series, as I said earlier in my mention of character growth. Alexander had this skill that could marvel C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien in presenting morals and lessons in such a way that they actually worked within the story, and you just don't feel preached at. Of particular note, the idea that glory in battle is not to be desired is something Tolkien seemed to hit upon. I thoroughly enjoyed <i>Cauldron</i>, and am looking forward to the third book soon.
This book blew me away the first time I read it in sixth grade, and it continues to capture my imagination and my heart to this day. Not only is it entertaining, but it contains profound lessons of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, and honor. Lloyd Alexander is an incredible storyteller, and this book is one of his very best.