The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd AlexanderThe Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain #2) by Lloyd Alexander
Published: Henry Holt & Co. BYR (1965), Paperback, 182pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

In the imaginary land of Prydain, where "evil is never distant," Prince Gwydion faces dangers more threatening than have ever been dreamed of. It has become imperative that the Black Cauldron, chief implement of the evil powers of Arawn, lord of the Land of Death, be destroyed.

For each of the warriors chosen to journey to Arawn's domain, the quest has special meaning. To Ellidyr, the youngest son of an impoverished king, it means a chance to satisfy his bitter longing for fame. For Adaon, beloved for his gentleness and bravery, the quest is an omen whose significance he dreads to discover. And to Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, the adventure seems a glorious opportunity to wear his first sword, and be a man among men.

In this story, filled with great sacrifice and great adventure, each warrior fulfills his destiny in ways entirely unforeseen.

I liked this one much better than The Book of Three. I don’t know if it’s because I’m more used to Mr. Lloyd’s writing style or just because it is better, but whatever the reason, I loved it.

The story flows so smoothly and yet so enticingly– there’s plenty of action and thrills, but even better there’s been CHARACTER GROWTH! Just as I hoped for!

I like Taran much better, too, and I’m glad that he’s acting more like the young man he is and not like a fanboy. Pretty much all the other characters act the same as they were in the first book, but I didn’t mind as much as I probably normally would. There’s new characters to occupy my thoughts, too, and though I guessed that one of them would kick it (it helped that it was pretty heavily foreshadowed), I did not guess what the other character would do. I was so happily surprised! I can’t say much more for fear of spoilers, but I was very pleased with the ending (though it was rather sad).

I thought it was very interesting that the older characters didn’t want to go to war, but thought it necessary to protect the country. The younger characters, on the other hand, very much were in favor of fighting any and all villains. By the end– and, alright, this is a bit of a spoiler– they learn that war isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and that being an adult is much harder than being a kid. A nice little lesson, without any heavy-handedness that my paraphrasing might have implied.

At this rate, the third book should be even better than the second. I look forward to finding out!

And finally– I’m not sure what’s “revised” about this book; anyone know?

Read: February 2009

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