Review of the “The Black Cauldron,” Book II of “The Chronicles of Prydain” by Lloyd Alexander

black cauldron

The dark menace of the fearsome Horned King had been eliminated. and the hidden Prince Gwydion had returned to power, thanks to the heroic efforts of Taran the assistant pig-keeper, the somewhat temperamental apprentice sorceress, Eilonwy, the story-stretching bard, Fflewddur Fflam, the lowly and excitable Gurgi, and the ill-tempered dwarf, Doli. And yes, the oracular pig Henwen had been found and safely returned to Caer Dalben.
But the looming threat of the black-hearted Arawn, King of Annuvin, and his macabre army of undead Cauldron-Born remains as a scourge to the land of Prydain, and Taran, Eilonwy, Fflewddur, Gurgi, and Doli must unite again on a quest spearheaded by Prince Gwydion to find and destroy the dreaded Black Cauldron, the forbidden artifact of darkest magic that King Arawn used to create his army of undead warriors….

Although, in my honest opinion, this second installment in the Prydain Series wasn’t as epic or stirring as the first one, “The Book of Three,” “The Black Cauldron” is nevertheless, a great tale. We get to find out more of the character of the main hero Taran as he is put through more trials and challenges in the quest to destroy the Black Cauldron, meeting new allies, and potential new enemies along the way. Though I was disappointed not to see the Cauldron-Born return in this book, it has its fair share of menacing baddies, albeit not as much as the first installment it seems. It is nontheless a classic of young adult fantasy literature, and is right up in the ranks with “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Dark Is Rising Sequence,” “Harry Potter,” and “His Dark Materials.”

And whatever you do, no matter how curious you are about it, do not see the old Walt Disney animated adaptation of “The Black Cauldron.” It is an absolute abomination and craps all over Lloyd Alexander’s work.

I give “The Black Cauldron” by Lloyd Alexander a 4 out of 5.


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