Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review - The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander

Short review: Eilonwy must learn to be a lady so everyone goes on a sea voyage to Mona where they run afoul of a giant dwarf and his enormous cat.

Mystic heritage
Aachren kidnaps Eilonwy
Oversized housecat

Full review: This is the third book in the Chronicles of Prydain, and in my opinion, the weakest of the five books. However, the weakest of these five books is still a great book. In the book, Dallben decides that Eilonwy (who has been living at Caer Dallben since the end of The Book of Three) should go to the island of Mona and learn to become a lady. Taran and Gurgi escort her through the journey, and meet Prince Rhun, who captains the ship they take to the island. Once there, Taran finds that both Fflewddur and Gwydion are there too, and Gwydion tells Taran that Eilonwy may be in danger.

Of course, Eilonwy is kidnapped, and the intrepid companions with Prince Rhun and several soldiers set out to find her. Taran, Fflewddur, and Gurgi find an abandoned house, a mysterious blank book, and are trapped by a giant housecat. They escape but are later trapped by a giant dwarf named Glew, and have to escape again. Finally they track Eilonwy to Caer Colur, an abandoned tower by the sea where Aachren has ensorcelled Eilonwy. Secrets are revealed concerning the blank book and Eilonwy's bauble and Aachren's power over Eilonwy is broken.

After the far-reaching adventure of The Book of Three and the intensity of The Black Cauldron, the plot of The Castle of Llyr seems like something of a let down. While the pursuit and recovery of Eilonwy turns out to be a significant affair, the side quests involving the cat Llyan and the dwarf Glew are silly enough to detract from the rest of the story, which gives this tale a light-hearted quality that seems out of place in between The Black Cauldron and Taran Wanderer. On the other hand, if all five books were dark and brooding, then the story would probably be dragged down under its own weight, so the tone of the book is probably necessary.

Previous book in the series: The Black Cauldron
Subsequent book in the series: Taran Wanderer

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