The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Prydain Chronicles primarily are a history of the adventures of Taran, a young orphan in the care of the wizard Dallben and the old warrior Coll. In a series of heroic quests, Taran, given the title of Assistant Pig-Keeper, finds the excitement he craves along with his share of despair and heartache as he grows up to become the High King of Prydain.

Taran’s adventures begin in The Book of Three, when Hen Wen, the oracular pig who is Taran’s charge, runs away to escape capture by the Horned King, champion of the evil King Arawn, Death-Lord. Taran, while following the pig, is introduced to the cast of characters who become his companions on this quest and will also appear in subsequent adventures. These include Prince Gwydion, war leader for High King Math and the forces of good; Gurgi, a strange creature who becomes half pet, half servant; the beautiful Princess Eilonwy, orphaned daughter of a line of enchantresses who helps Taran escape from the castle of the wicked Queen Achren; wandering bard and king Fflewddur Fflam; and Doli the dwarf. Taran, aided by a magical sword, helps to defeat the Horned King and restores at least a temporary peace to the kingdom.

Taran’s adventures continue in The Black Cauldron. He is reunited with his companions to begin a new quest, that of destroying the cauldron in which King Arawn creates his deathless warriors, the Cauldron-Born. Taran must suffer wounded pride at the hands of the arrogant Prince Ellidyr, deal with his grief over the loss of his friend, Adaon the warrior and bard, and bargain with Orddu, Orgoch, and Orwen, the three mysterious enchantresses who hold the cauldron. Taran learns the meaning of sacrifice when he must give up his most precious possession, Adaon’s brooch, to obtain the cauldron; and he learns humility when Ellidyr betrays him and threatens to claim the credit for all of Taran’s triumphs. It is Ellidyr, however, who sacrifices his life to destroy the cauldron.

In The Castle of Llyr, Taran begins to acknowledge his feelings for Princess Eilonwy when he and Prince Rhun of the Isle of Mona escort her to the prince’s home, where she will begin her training in the ways of the court. Taran reaches Mona and finds Prince Gwydion, who warns him that Queen Achren is plotting revenge on...

(The entire section is 951 words.)