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, May 23, 2017

The High King, Chapter 2 – The Letter Sticks

Achren says that Arawn can’t leave Annuvin in his true form, but fortunately for him, he has the ability to assume any form he wishes, such as appearing as Taran in order to entrap Gwydion. Well, that’s convenient! There’s a catch, though – when he’s in the shape of something else, he loses his power of invincibility and can be killed. Also, he hates incurring roaming charges, so most of the time he stays home.

Eilonwy says she wouldn’t have been fooled by no phony Assistant Pig-Keeper. Achren scoffs at her and says only she, Achren, can see through Arawn’s disguises. Because she taught him everything he knows, back when they used to boff, you see. Before there were any Sons of Don or Lord Gwydions or Math the High Kings, Achren ruled Annuvin with Arawn as her consort. Then, he betrayed her and stole her throne, but still she can always recognize his true colors, shining through. Achren says she bears Gwydion no ill will, and that she’ll watch over him during the night. Eilonwy is like, no, I’ll watch over him. Dallben says, chill out, you can both watch him. They take Gwydion to Dallben’s room.

Fflewddur says he had a feeling there was something different about the fake Taran, and a harp string snaps. Rhun talks about his attempts to put up a seawall at Mona, which didn’t meet in the middle after the crews started the work at both ends. Womp womp. Glew complains about not being respected now that he’s not a giant and says he wants to go back to Mona. Taran decides that with everything going on, he won’t try proposing to Eilonwy “until all hearts were at peace again,” then he falls asleep. Later, Eilonwy wakes him and says Gwydion is up and wants to talk to them.

Gwydion, looking haggard and wolflike (drink!), says he will ride to Annuvin immediately to recover Dyrnwyn. He’s learned more about the sword, enough to know that in Arawn’s possession, “it can bring doom upon Prydain.” Eilonwy remembers the inscription on the scabbard said only one of “noble blood” could draw Dyrnwyn, and Gwydion says a closer translation would be “noble worth”: “The enchantment forbade the sword to all but those who would use it wisely and well.” Taran asks if Arawn can draw it, then, if he intends to do evil with it. Gwydion says he doesn’t know, but maybe Arawn has found a way to break the sword’s spell. Achren says she’ll go after Dyrnwyn in Gwydion’s stead, and thus have her vengeance on Arawn. But Gwydion says Achren is better off staying under Dallben’s protection, since Arawn would recognize her and kill her before she got close to the sword.

Dallben tells Coll: “Fetch the letter sticks.” YASSSS! The so-called oracular pig we’ve been hearing about for four books is finally going to prophesy something! Everyone – except for Gurgi, Glew and Achren – goes out to the pig pen to see what Hen Wen has to say. But, it’s a big letdown, because Hen Wen is cowering in the corner and won’t move. Taran scratches her chin soothingly and manages to persuade her to point reluctantly to several symbols on the letter sticks. Suddenly, the sticks shatter into pieces. Dallben says the prophesy is unfinished, and the first part of it was way dark, yo. Taran tries to calm Hen Wen down. Then, Gurgi runs out of the cottage shouting, “Wicked Queen is gone!” Oh, Achren, you minx, you!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The High King, Chapter 1 – Homecomings

This is it, friends – the final book in the Prydain series! The High King opens pretty much right where Taran Wanderer leaves off, with Taran and Gurgi traveling home to Caer Dallben from Commot Merin. They’ve stopped to camp for the night, when suddenly, Kaw comes swooping down to announce “Eilonwy! Princess! Home!” This is enough to make Taran and Gurgi jump up, break camp and gallop day and night – poor Melynlas and Nameless Pony! – until they arrive at Caer Dallben.

They’re greeted by Coll, Dallben, and Eilonwy, who chides Taran affectionately for not having been home to welcome her. She complains about palace life at Mona, then breaks off to observe that there is something different about Taran. He’s like, yeah, I’ve totally been a smith, a weaver and a potter since you last saw me, and he gives her the bowl he made at Annlaw’s. Eilonwy asks if he found his parents, having heard from Dallben that “you met someone you thought was your father but wasn’t.” Taran says he found what he sought, but it wasn’t what he hoped. Prince Rhun appears – “Hullo! Hullo!” – and says he’s now King Rhun, his father having passed away. As king, he decided to bring Eilonwy back to Caer Dallben, along with the former giant Glew, who is sitting by the fireside grumbling about being ignored. Taran says he wishes Fflewddur, Doli, and Gwydion were there, too. Coll says Doli sends his best – but won’t budge from the Fair Folk realm – and that Fflewddur is on his way. Dallben says Gwydion is coming as well: “He and I have matters to discuss.”

Eilonwy gives Taran an embroidered cloth with a blue-eyed pig “meant to be Hen Wen.” Taran teases her that “Hen’s eyes are really brown.” Then he gets serious and says he had hoped his quest “would prove noble, and give me the right to ask what I dared not ask before. My hope was mistaken. Yet even without it –” He’s totally about to propose, y’all! But just then, Fflewddur crashes in with a body thrown over his shoulder. It’s Prince Gwydion! At first, they think he’s dead, but it turns out he’s only mostly dead. Taran orders Gurgi to fetch Miracle Max. No, actually he says to fetch the healing herbs Adaon gave him. Wow, remember that? Then Taran apologizes to Dallben for overstepping his area of expertise. Dallben is like, I don’t have anything better than those herbs, so have at it: “I trust your skill as I see you trust it.” Aww! Taran’s all grows’d up.

Fflewddur asks Taran how he escaped from the Huntsmen of Annuvin that struck Gwydion down. Taran says, “Your words have no meaning, Fflewddur.” Fflewddur is baffled, having seen Taran with his own eyes an hour before. He says Taran cried out for help and Gwydion rode against the Huntsmen to save him, but the Huntsmen dragged Gwydion from his saddle, stole Dyrnwyn from his belt and barely left him alive. They all wonder if Fflewddur is feverish or has lost his mind, since Taran was nowhere near the battle. Then Achren enters and says that Fflewddur’s memory is fine: “You saw what was meant for you to see.” It was someone else who appeared in Taran’s form. And who has the ability to create such illusions? Only one person: her ex-boo, Arawn!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I Couldn't Wait Until New Year's to Share This!

I’ll be back next week with a new Prydain recap – the first chapter of “The High King” – but in the meantime, I'm excited to announce I've just published a new story, “Up, Up and Hooray!”

If you’ve read “Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself (and Spiders),” you might have wondered whatever happened to Stan and Macy, the loving young couple who, when we last saw them, were struggling to deal with job market upheaval and the loss of a pet while also trying – with mixed results – to get into the Halloween spirit. In “Up, Up and Hooray,” we check in with Macy and Stan just a few months later, on New Year’s Eve, as they get ready to celebrate the new year – and new beginnings – with a special tradition. It’s a short, fun, and uplifting read, available now in Kindle ebook form. I can't wait to hear what you think!

And if you haven’t read “Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself (and Spiders)” yet, check this out – it’s totally free on Amazon now through Sunday, May 14! Both stories are also permanently free to read with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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