THE CASTLE OF LLYR
From the Chronicles of Prydain series, volume 3
The Princess Eilonwy is one of the many attractive characters growing up through the previous titles in the continuing chronicle of Prydain: The Book of Three. The Black Cauldron. Although it's her plight that instigates the action here, it is still Taran's story -- the impatient, ambitious Assistant Pig Keeper of Caer Dallben, who has been on his way to becoming quite a man in these stories. The Princess has reached an age where the wizard Dallben decides despite her protests that her hoyden ways must be polished to royal refinement. She is dispatched to the Isle of Mona to be trained under the direction of Queen Teleria and the protection of King Rhuddlum. It comes as an awful blow to Taran that their plan is to prepare Eilonwy to become the bride of their son, Prince Rhun, a foolish stripling of good intentions, hereditary powers and small capacity. Rhun's safety becomes Taran's charge which considerably complicates Eilonwy's rescue. No sooner had she been installed at Mona than she was kidnapped by her wicked relative, the enchantress Achen, who needed certain magical powers and properties belonging to Eilonwy, who was not fully aware of them. The struggles between the forces of good and evil continue at the terrific pace established in the first books. Character and dialogue is handled humorously and dextrously, which sets this classic-in-the-making apart from other folklore-based fantasies. Any discussion of whether or not this book can stand completely by itself without the others seems quite beside the point. We think it might. The point is that in terms of bookstore inventories and library collections it shouldn't have to, and where the ultimate readers stumble into the series is, after all, subject to control. It is clear from the author's note that there is more to come that will resolve some of the situations set in motion here. This includes a magnificent cat force fed to horse proportions and prone to housepet gambolings and an embittered self-made giant trapped underground. And, as before, the compelling mystery of Taran's destiny and Prydain's fate.