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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Castle of Llyr, Chapter 4 – Shadows

That evening’s feast is merry, though Taran can’t enjoy it at all, since he’s too worried about Eilonwy, who is chattering animatedly with Prince Rhun after pointedly reminding Taran that she’s not speaking to him (heh). Fflewddur performs the new lay he's composed, and afterward Taran tries to talk him into moving out of the stables and back into the castle, but the bard says he’s fine in the stables and doesn’t want to cause trouble with Magg. Taran asks Gurgi to keep an eye on Eilonwy’s chamber, then goes looking for Gwydion. He sees a shadowy figure ducking through an ivy-concealed opening in the stone wall around the castle, and follows.

The figure turns out to be Magg, who heads down a steep, rocky path to the harbor, stops at the edge of the water, lights a torch and waves it back and forth over his head. A tiny signal from the sea answers back (from a ship, Taran presumes). Magg then extinguishes the torch and heads back, right in the direction of Taran’s hiding place. Taran is cornered, until suddenly he’s grabbed from behind and hears Gwydion whisper “Make no sound!” Oh, that sneaky Gwydion. They hide until Magg passes, heading back to the castle. Taran is all for sounding the alarm right then and there, but Gwyddie’s playing a long con. He says he’s learned Achren is aboard the ship that Magg was signaling to, and that while he doesn’t like to use Eilonwy as bait in a trap, he needs to know what Magg and Achren are planning.

Taran says he’ll watch Magg, and heads back to the castle. He peeks into Magg’s chamber and sees the Chief Steward first brandishing a dagger and then eyeing himself smugly in a looking glass. Taran goes back to Eilonwy’s room; poor Gurgi is half-asleep outside the door. Taran sends him to bed and takes up watch, trying not to fall asleep himself. Morning comes, and Eilonwy is like, what the heck are you doing on the floor outside my door? The best lie Taran can think of is that it’s more comfortable in the hallway than in his room, to which Eilonwy responds awesomely: “[That’s] the silliest thing I’ve heard this morning. I may hear something sillier, because it's early yet, but I doubt it.” One of her all-time great lines! She drops the mic and heads down to breakfast. Taran doesn’t want to let her out of his sight, but is delayed by Prince Rhun popping up again – “Hullo, hullo!” – in that inconvenient way he has. By the time Taran finally gets free of him and makes it to the Great Hall, there’s no sign of either Magg or Eilonwy.

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