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

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Castle of Llyr, Chapter 16 – A Meeting of Strangers – and Chapter 17 – The Spells of Caer Colur

Eilonwy seems to have completely lost her memory. She introduces herself formally, and asks Taran again who he is. He says she’s dreaming and implores her to wake up. She says yes, she was dreaming, before he so rudely awakened her: “A pleasant dream – with a pig in it – and someone who – no, it’s gone now, faster than a butterfly.” Taran notices that her eyes lack depth, and fears she’s been drugged or is under a spell. He begs her to climb down the rope with him, but she’s like, slide down yourself, dude, and let me go back to sleep. Taran starts desperately dropping names: Hen Wen, Coll, Caer Dallben. Eilonwy thinks maybe Caer Dallben was in her dream, too. She was climbing an apple tree, fell off, and was caught by someone: “Could it have been an Assistant Pig-Keeper? I wonder what became of him.” Taran says quietly that he’s here, and I’ve got legitimate chills; it’s so beautiful and sad. Then there’s a great moment where Eilonwy, for a second, seems as if she’s going to remember him, then dismisses it all as simply a dream.

Taran grabs Eilonwy’s arm, saying that Achren has done this to her. That’s the wrong move, as it turns out. Eilonwy jerks away from him, slaps him in the face and then runs into the hallway, shrieking for Achren to help her. Taran chases after her and is seized by Magg, who pulls a dagger on him! Gwydion and the others show up just in time. Fflewddur wastes no time in setting upon “the spider,” Magg. Gurgi helps Fflewddur pin Magg down, while Rhun manages to save Taran’s life, by killing a guard who has Taran cornered. Gwydion kills two guards, and the others flee at the sight of the blazing Dyrnwyn. At the end of the hall, Eilonwy appears with Achren beside her.

Achren warns the companions that if they kill her, Eilonwy will die also. Gwydion believes she’s telling the truth, and tells the others to stand down. Achren gives Gwydion a lingering look, and says it’s a pity Gwydion didn’t become her consort when he had the chance. Gwydion commands her to release Eilonwy. Achren says that Eilonwy is there willingly to claim her birthright – the castle of Caer Colur and all its enchanted treasures, and Eilonwy, still speaking like she’s in a trance, agrees with her. Poor Gurgi tries to appeal to Eilonwy’s memory, saying he waits to serve her, as always. Achren demands that Fflewddur release Magg, and in one of the most upsetting scenes of the entire series, Eilonwy basically puts the Cruciatus Curse on Gurgi, torturing him until Fflewddur obeys. And then Gurgi says he forgives Eilonwy, and I love his poor tender head so much! It’s just the saddest thing ever.

Magg says Fflewddur will pay dearly when he is king of Dinas Rhydnant: “Magg the Magnificent!” Fflewddur corrects him: “Magg the Maggot!” (That one’s a little too easy, Fflewddur.) Achren says she will make Magg’s kingdom great, and that Arawn will pay. Then she goes off the deep end a little bit, railing against her ex, saying that he betrayed her and she will topple him. I kind of picture everyone else shifting around during this rant, like “Awkward!” Especially Gwydion, whom she was just hitting on a few minutes ago. I’m guessing he’s not regretting the decision not to hook up with her one bit. He tells her that she doesn’t have the power to awaken Eilonwy’s enchantments. She tells him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And then Rhun, channeling his inner Screech from “Saved by the Bell,” chimes in enthusiastically that yes, he does! They have the book and the bauble and they’re never giving them up!

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