The Castle of Llyr, Chapter 20 – The Pledge

Eilonwy awakens, and answers Taran’s anxious “Do you know us?” by addressing him as “Taran of Caer Dallben” and saying that “only an Assistant Pig-Keeper could ask a question like that.” So her memory’s back and she’s fine, yay! She tells the companions the story from her point of view, warning them beforehand that it’s not very interesting. In a nutshell, Magg came up to her in the castle and said she needed to come with him, which she did despite knowing he was up to something, and then he bound and gagged her and dragged her onto his boat, at which point she dropped her bauble. “Since I was gagged, I couldn’t make him understand I wanted it back.” Hee. Magg took her to Achren, who put her under a spell, and after that everything was a blur until the moment when she had the bauble back. She felt torn between destroying the spells and taking the opportunity to become a powerful enchantress. She tells Taran that now she understands how he felt in the Marshes of Morva when he had to give up Adaon’s brooch. And now that the book is gone, apparently she’ll never be magical. She doesn’t miss the book, but she wishes she hadn’t lost her bauble. And right on cue, Kaw flies in with the bauble in his claws.

They set out for Dinas Rhydnant, with Rhun vowing to take a more active role in governing Mona, since he partly blames himself for Magg’s power grab. Achren consents to come with them to Caer Dallben and chill, Fflewddur is headed back to his own kingdom with Llyan, and Gwydion agrees that they can stop by the cavern and seek help for Glew. Eilonwy and Taran have a quiet moment standing by the edge of the sea. A battle horn washes up, the last remnant of Caer Colur. Eilonwy gives it to Taran and says that after she’s done with her young-lady training, she plans to rush home to Caer Dallben. Taran says that the king and queen plan for Eilonwy and Rhun to marry. Eilonwy bristles that they “shall do no such thing” and that she’s not speaking to Taran (drink!) then softens it by saying “for a little while.” End of chapter and end of book!

I have to say, I have mixed feelings about The Castle of Llyr. It’s a quick read – the shortest book in the series – but I struggled to recap it at points, because not much happens. It’s ostensibly about Taran and Eilonwy’s budding relationship, but she’s barely in it. And while I’m grateful that Doli didn’t get shoehorned in at least, it still felt like there were too many characters and not enough for them to do, even with Gwydion and Kaw absent for chapters at a time. When we finally get live-action film versions of the books, it will be interesting to see what they do with the climax, which relies greatly on Taran’s and Eilonwy’s internal struggles (and on Gwydion’s intuition) and allows both principal antagonists to survive. But, however that turns out, I just hope they cast someone good as Rhun, since his arc is more interesting than any belonging to the main characters.

And that’s a wrap, folks! I’ll be taking a short hiatus before coming back to recap book 4, Taran Wanderer. Please subscribe to my newsletter for updates about the blog and my other projects, which include a fantasy stage musical and a YA historical novel. And I hope to see you at Dragon Con!