Alexander-Lloyd, Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult

#556 The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

 The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

Taran is off on adventures again. This time Dallben has gathered a group together to go in search of the black cauldron. The Cauldron has been in possession of all-around-bay-guy, Annuvin, who used the cauldron to make the unborn, the walking dead.

Taran sets off on a journey with several princes, one of which has been foretold to have a black monster upon his back. He’s not very nice a very nice guy. The journey progresses. The group gets split up. Somehow Eilonwy and Gurgi show up. By the time the group got to Annuvin’s house, the black cauldron was already gone. This was all a bit odd.

The group meets a strange little creature inside of the earth, who Doli the elf knows. From the crow, it is gathered that the cauldron is in a swamp named Morva. Along the way the group is attacked by huntsman and lose on of their number. In Morva the group meets three enchantresses, but they’re not really sure there are three or if they’re enchantresses at all. Needless to say, the three, or whatever, are very powerful. They know where the cauldron is.

After a time, Taran and his group come to have the cauldron, but the prince with the black beast upon his back upsets the entire plan. Eventually, this prince realizes the wrong he has done and what the black beast is.

What I liked

I liked that the prince with the black beast upon his back was able to redeem himself. We can all get a little crazy. We can all get a little power-hungry. If we realize that we have been so, it is best to make amends and that was done quite nicely, if sadly, in this book.

This character, Ellidyr, reminds me both of Severus Snape and Boromir in the fact that he did do bad things, but there was still a whole lot of good in him, and in the end, he did good.

I really like some of the more fantastic elements in this story. There is a weird-looking guy who lives underground. Who doesn’t like that. A crow that can talk? Three enchantresses out in the swamp? It’s all very neat.

What I didn’t like

The more I read of Prydain, the more I think Middle Earth. I know The Chronicles of Prydain are based loosely on Welsh mythology, but really this all just sounds like The Lord of the Rings. I cannot imagine Gurgi as anything but Gollum. Our prince with the black beast upon his back is Boromir. Dallben is Gandalf. I, mean, really, do I have to go on?

The cauldron is the one ring.

There are so many common elements. I think that if you had a child who was interested in the idea of The Lord of the Rings, but was still too young to get the whole thing, this series would be a wonderful substitute. It has a lot of the same ideas; it has the same kind of feel. Everything is magical.


If you basically want Lord of the Rings for children, this is your series.

Weigh In

If Ellidyr had been good the entire time, would he be as an impressive of a character?

What do you think will become of Taran before the end of the series?


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