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

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The High King, Chapter 14 - Daylight

Another POV shift! In this chapter we find out what happened to Eilonwy. Gurgi saved her life during the battle by dragging her away from the action, then found a cave for the two of them to spend the night in. The next day, as they searched for Taran, they were suddenly set upon … not by the Cauldron-Born but by a gang of mauraders. Tied to horses and brought to a campfire, they now face off with none other than our old friend Kid Rock (aka Dorath)! He swipes Eilonwy's bauble and demands she tell them where they can find "more treasure like this."

When Eilonwy won't answer, Dorath approaches Gurgi and realizes they have met before, when Gurgi was the "comrade to a pig-keeper." It's then that things get really creepy, y'all. Dorath looks more closely at Eilonwy, whom he'd previously thought was a boy, and notices that she's a "wench." She corrects him that she's no wench, but a princess of Llyr, and he calls her "Princess Vixen" and says he'll set her free later, after he settles a score with Taran. And by that, he means he plans on raping her and inviting his gang to do the same. This meaning was totally lost on me when I first read this book at age 11 or so, but when I read it now, his intentions are very clear - and what's more, they're clear to Eilonwy as well: "she could sense the outlaw's thoughts behind his cold eyes and for the first time she was deeply afraid." Yikes. Heavy stuff.

Gurgi tries to protect Eilonwy by biting Dorath on the leg. Dorath draws his sword and is about to kill Gurgi when - just in the nick of time - the wolves arrive! They tear out the throats of Dorath and his company, then chew through the ropes binding Eilonwy and Gurgi. Eilonwy retrieves her bauble from Dorath's corpse and thanks the wolves for helping them. She says the only wolves she's met before lived with Medwyn, and then very slowly puts it together that these must be the same wolves. She wishes she could communicate with them, and then suddenly she's able to. How terribly convenient! Is this the same magic power that Gwydion acquired at Oeth-Anoeth and then never mentioned again?

Gurgi and Eilonwy travel with the wolf pack through the Hills of Bran-Galedd, the wolves protecting them from bears and other dangers. They arrive at the crest of a hill just in time to see Taran and the war band disappearing into the mines in the valley far below. It takes them the rest of the day to get halfway down the slope. As the sun is setting, Brynach and Briavael sound the alarm that a band of Huntsmen is approaching. Right about that time, Taran and the others emerge from the mine entrance. Eilonwy calls Taran's name, trying to warn him, but he's too far away and can't hear her. She pulls out her bauble, which glows brighter and brighter until the valley is drenched with a light as bright as the sun. Eilonwy's about to rescue Taran once again!