The Prydain Project

Thirty years after first devouring Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books, I'm rereading them to see if the magic is still there. If you've arrived at this blog because you loved Prydain as a kid, I hope you’ll enjoy the chance to revisit it along with me. To read the recaps in order, start here: "The Book of Three," Chapter 1

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Black Cauldron, Chapter 10 – The Marshes of Morva

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus, folks – to paraphrase Shakespeare, my heart was in the ground with Adaon, and I had to pause ere it came back to me. That, and I’ve been busy. Last weekend, I went to YALLFest in Charleston, which was amazing! And I’ve been attending some great author classes and workshops at Jera Publishing. But I’m back and ready to follow that marsh bird in the direction of Morva!

The companions pause for a rest and a bite of lembas and jerky from Gurgi’s magical wallet. Taran demonstrates his brooch-born clairvoyance twice more: first by accurately predicting that it’s going to rain even though Fflewddur protests – “Great Belin, there isn’t a cloud in the sky!” – and then by knowing that the outcropping under which they’ve found shelter is about to collapse in a landslide. Gurgi is thankful that his poor tender head is spared from both drippings and dashings. That night, Taran dreams that Ellidyr is in danger and he can’t help. He also dreams that they found the cauldron, but “when we found it, I wept.”

They reach the marshes of Morva, and boy, is it stinky, with stagnant pools, dead plants, and ropes of fog. Taran’s dream of the two wolves and the bear turns out to mean that three Huntsmen are on their trail, dressed in animal pelts. The companions plunge headlong into the marshes, and their pursuers drown in the bog. On the other side of the swamp, Taran pulls Melynlas up at a seemingly deserted cottage. Peeking through the windows, he sees piles of clutter, and a loom, with a tangled weaving on it and strands dangling down. Suddenly, an unseen person asks cheerfully how he’d like it “if you were turned into a toad? And stepped on?”

It seems to be a requirement in works of fantasy, from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings to the NeverEnding Story, that marshes or swamps be described as exceedingly unpleasant. But how do they stack up against each other, I wonder? It’s poll time!

Which place is the worst?

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