Oh, back to Prydain and the usual cast of characters. I can’t get enough of Lloyd Alexander’s imaginary land; these books are timeless with regards to the quality of the story. The lessons they impart and the plots they follow are at once familiar and fresh. They are, in one word, delightful.
I actually liked The Castle of Llyr better than the last one, The Black Cauldron. This book, rather than being a story about sacrifice for the good of all, is more about the exploration of relationships. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but the development and growth of the children from Caer Dallben is just as interesting as the fighting of battles for the fate of the people.
We are introduced here to some new characters, most notably Prince Rhun, a bumbling young man who, to Taran’s dismay, is betrothed to Eilonwy. When Eilonwy goes missing, Taran is given the task of watching after Rhun when they go out searching for her. Adventures ensue, but lessons are also learned. While he is unaware of the consequences of his actions at times, and is not the most competent of people, he is not a bad person. While Taran saw him as a burden at the beginning of their trek, he learns to view him as someone who has value and an honorable inner core.
Rhun also does not have illusions about how he actually performs on tasks. He is aware of his limitations. Alexander has crafted a character that is easier for children and teens to relate to in Rhun, I think, than in Taran, who, despite his faults, somehow always manages to have things fall his way. Prince Rhun doesn’t have that, and is a more believable supporting character due to it.
Another delicious part of the story of this book is the relationship between Taran and Eilonwy. There’s always been hints that there is a romantic relationship tying the two together, but it is in this book, with the premonitory presence of Prince Rhun, to actually kindle something more blatant. It’s rewarding to know that two characters I love also love each other. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next two books, and wonder if they also are in the collection of short stories by Alexander about the land of Prydain.
Don’t tell me, though. It’s too fun to find out on my own