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, April 11, 2016

The Castle of Llyr, Chapter 2 – Dinas Rhydnant

Sorry for the delay in getting this recap up, folks – I’ve was out of the country, finally visiting England for the first time. London was amazing, though we didn’t make it to Wales, unfortunately – next time, I’ve got to see Anglesey, also known as the Isle of Mona! Which is where our companions arrive at the end of their sea voyage, disembarking at Dinas Rhydnant, a crescent-shaped harbor overlooked by cliffs, with a castle atop the highest peak.

Rhun manages to slash Taran’s cloak with his sword when saluting the Captain of Guards. Taran is all, thanks a lot, dude, now I’ll look like a bum in front of your parents. They meet the king and queen. King Rhuddlum is like an older version of Rhun, while Queen Teleria embraces them all, then tells Eilonwy how honored they are to have her, interspersed with commands that Eilonwy stand up straight and not fidget. She’s shocked at Eilonwy’s disgraceful clothes and (of course) Taran’s torn cloak. She says they have a “perfectly wonderful shoemaker,” who was just passing through but ended up staying at the castle, “cobbling away.” The Chief Steward, Magg, is ordered to show them to their chambers. Magg wears a lushly embroidered cloak and a huge iron key ring at his belt. He bows deeply and leads Taran and Gurgi to a chamber, then departs.

A moment later, guess who pops his head into the chamber? Why, it’s Fflewddur Fflam! Taran asks what brought him to Mona (other than being a major supporting character in the series, of course)? Fflewddur says he was trying in earnest to be a king, but when spring came, “everything indoors began looking unspeakably dreary,” and so he hopped a boat to Mona. Why Mona? Because he’d never been, “so that was the best reason in the world for going.” Ohhhkay. So in other words, Alexander just couldn't be bothered to think of a better reason for Fflewddur to be there. I'm a little disappointed in him. Taran asks where Doli is, because: see above about major supporting characters. Fflewddur says that he asked Doli to come along, but he got a message back that just said “Humph!” Personally, I’m relieved that Doli didn’t get shoehorned into this adventure as well – at least, not yet.

Fflewddur says he’s been sleeping in the stables ever since the Chief Steward found out he wasn’t a real bard. Right on cue, Magg shows up with the shoemaker. Fflewddur glares at Magg and stalks out. Man, I love Fflewddur. It’s not his fault that he’s here on the flimsiest of pretenses. Magg leaves, and the shoemaker, who is stooped, shabbily attired and has a croaking voice “much like Kaw’s,” starts pulling strips of leather from his bag. He says that to “go well-shod is half the journey… Is that not so, Taran of Caer Dallben?” Whoa! Surprise, surprise, it’s Lando – er, Gwydion – in disguise!

Gwydion shushes Taran and Gurgi and whispers that they should not tell anyone who he is. He’s there to give them an urgent message: Princess Eilonwy’s life is in danger, and so is Taran’s!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little bit conflicted with myself that Anglesey didn't make the itinerary of our Wales tour. I heard mixed opinions about it, and saw nothing in any of my research to indicate that what it had to offer was better or more convenient than the areas I wound up picking. It does have a castle right where Lloyd plants Dinas Rhydnant on his map, though, and there's the principle of the thing. I contented myself with visiting Harlech in Gwennedd, since that was the actual seat of the children of Llyr, but if we ever go back, I'm putting Criccieth on the must-see list.

    I suppose Fflewddur's presence does strain credulity a bit. His kingdom is in the north, so that makes a jaunt to Mona rather convenient - of course, that being the case, one might ask why he'd never been there before. And I can't even start speculating on his having secret ulterior motives or insider information, since his harp shows no indications of breaking any strings here.