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 30, 2018

The High King, Chapter 18 – Mount Dragon

Welcome back! It’s been a while since we visited Prydain (in book form, anyway). As we approach the climax of the final book in the series, things have gotten much colder and darker for Taran and his friends… literally. They survived a deadly snowstorm only by burning Fflewddur’s treasured harp, while Llassar and the Commot warriors (I’d almost forgotten about them!) found shelter in a cave. And now they’re facing down the final obstacle in their journey to Annuvin, a “dark and forbidding” (because of course it is) peak called Mount Dragon.

Achren has regained consciousness, and Gurgi is uneasily sharing his lembas and jerky with her. Haughty as ever, she scoffs at the idea that “a pig-keeper and his shabby followers hope to triumph where a queen failed.” Eilonwy whispers to Taran that Achren is not a queen anymore but seems to think she is, and Achren, overhearing, apologizes. She says she’s grateful for her life, and she will repay the companions by showing them the only surmountable path to Annuvin, a hidden trail to the western descent of Mount Dragon.

Taran, Doli, Eilonwy and Fflewddur huddle up to decide whether to trust Achren or not. Taran concludes that although he fears Achren, “I will not let fear blind me to hope.” They agree to follow Achren to Mount Dragon, which got its name by being—wait for it—in the shape of a dragon. Who’d a thunk? Achren leads them up a steep path, bounded by tall cliffs to keep them hidden as they approach Annuvin. This path, she boasts, is known only to her and Arawn, “for it was I who showed him the secret ways of Mount Dragon.” I’ll bet you did, you naughty minx, you!

As they crest the shoulder of the dragon, Kaw flies to them, calling out “Gwydion!” Taran struggles over a rock ridge and sees Annuvin below him, “glittering like black, polished marble,” with a battle raging in the courtyard. He spots Gwydion and Taliesin, seeming close to victory over Arawn’s forces, but also the army of Cauldron-Born hastening toward the gates. You had one job, Taran! As he jumps from the ridge, the stones give way under him! He's left clinging to the side of Mount Dragon, his sword clattering down into the gorge below. He’s too far down for his friends to reach him… and then… a gwythaint swoops toward him!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Visiting Prydain!

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus, folks. I’ll be back with a new chapter recap next week, but in the meantime, I want to share some photos of my recent trip to Wales, on which Lloyd Alexander based much of Prydain's mythology and geography. I've always been fascinated with the history and language of Wales, especially after reading Sharon Kay Penman's Welsh Princes trilogy, so it was a dream come true to glimpse it in person.

My husband and I traveled to Swansea, where our hosts, his aunt and uncle, gave us a wonderful tour of the Gower peninsula, roughly equivalent to Prydain's Southern Realms, according to this map by Brendan Wanderer. Of course, I had to wear my Prydain map T-shirt!
I met Melynlas, the silver-maned stallion (or perhaps one of his cousins), and his family! These beautiful wild horses roam the common lands of Gower and aren’t a bit disturbed by humans getting fairly close to them.
You can almost picture a battle taking place on the hillside around this rock, known as Arthur’s Stone:
This rock formation is called the Worm’s Head, because it looks like a dragon rising up out of the water.
I fell in love with beautiful Rhossili Bay, with its rolling green hills almost touching the lapping waves. (Apparently, so did the band Mumford & Sons, who used it in their "Lover of the Light" video!)
It was hard to leave Wales; really wish we could have stayed longer. I think the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas summed it up best: