THE BLACK CAULDRON
From the Chronicles of Prydain series, volume 2
The Book of Three (1964, p. 818, J-262) has just received the invaluable boost that comes with selection as one of ALA's Notable Children's Books. The Black Cauldron continues the story of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper to the wizard Dallben in the fully realized imaginary Kingdom of Prydain. The same characteristics that made the first book so rich are again present--a fine flow of words; an inticate, active plot; an admirable balance between the forces of black and white magic. Taran's quest is for the Cauldron in which the evil King Arawn manufactures a pre-medieval sort of zombie warrior. Separated from the battalion raised at Dallben, Taran's companions-at-arms are: the young Princess Eilonwy; the grandiloquent bard Fflewddur; Gurgi, the "thing" on his way to becoming human, and Doli, the trollish refugee from the Fair Folk-- all unforgettable to readers of the first book. Two powerful figures are introduced here, Adaon, a perfect, gentle knight and Ellidyr, driven by searing pride and ambition. The sweep of the battles, the pressures of fear relieved by interludes of comedy, the blends of good and evil combine to the kind of once-in-a-lifetime reading that will assure Prydain a permanent place in geographies of fictional territories.