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The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
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The Black Cauldron (original 1965; edition 1975)

by Lloyd Alexander

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,043731,259 (4.1)1 / 127
Member:Remmik
Title:The Black Cauldron
Authors:Lloyd Alexander
Info:Dell Publishing Co., Inc. (1975), Paperback, 229 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:(SB), Kids|Teens

Work details

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (1965)

  1. 81
    The Grey King by Susan Cooper (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: The Grey King is technically Book 4 of a series, but it could be read alone. Silver on the Tree also has Welsh mythology.
  2. 00
    The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: The Hound of Rowan is modern, but it shares aspects of Welsh mythology.
  3. 15
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (Medicinos)
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Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
The Chronicles of Prydain are an original fantasy. The characters are very true-to-life and the quests are unpredictable. ( )
  TrgLlyLibrarian | Feb 1, 2015 |
Knowledge, truth and love . . . ”Put them all together and you have something very powerful indeed.” (p. 90)

So, I never read Lloyd Alexander as a child (unfortunately - these would be wonderful books for a kid!) I read The Book of Three a few years ago and couldn’t really get into it, but after being told repeatedly how much better The Black Cauldron is I finally gave in and decided to read it. Yeah, I have to say I liked Cauldron a lot more.

A LOT MORE.

It starts out with Taran back in his old life as Assistant Pig-Keeper for Dallben (for some reason Princess Eilonwy is acting as their maid.) Prince Gwydion calls an emergency war council at Caer Dallban, gathering all of his noble lords and warriors together to journey to Annuvin, the Land of Death and steal the Black Cauldron. The Black Cauldron is the device by which the evil King Arawn creates his army of undead warriors, known as the Cauldron-Born.

Taran is reunited with his old friends Fflewddur the bard-king, Doli the dwarf who can turn invisible and Gurgi the . . . the weird thing. We also meet a whole host of new characters, including Adaon the warrior/mystic/bard and Ellidyr a hot-headed youth who seems to take an instant disliking to Taran and starts a rivalry between them for glory and honour.

Ellidyr was actually one of my favourite characters - he’s so prickly and unpleasant to everyone, but he loves his horse, Islimach, so much it makes you realize that, no matter how unpleasant he is, there must be more to him than meets the eye.

Anyway, they go on their quest and yes, on one hand you can see this as LotR for kids, but I think there is genuinely more to it than that. It is a lovely book in its own right. There is plenty of action and adventure to entertain and enthral young readers, but Alexander also imbues his writing with humour and wit and moments of real grace and beauty.

There is a great theme here of empathy and understanding, forgiveness and redemption. Also important: honour and glory are not always what you think they are when you are young, and certainly never without a price.

Favourite quotes:

”There is much to be known,” said Adaon, “and above all much to be loved, be it in the turn of the seasons or the shape of a river pebble. Indeed, the more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts.” (p. 28)

Adaon smiled gravely. “Is there not glory enough in living the days given to us? You should know there is adventure in simply being among those we love and the things we love, and beauty, too.” (p. 75) ( )
  catfantastic | Jan 24, 2015 |
As with the first book, I was pleased to see how well it has held up over time. Good characters and motivations, nice growth throughout, just a really enjoyable introduction to the fantasy genre for the 8-10 set. ( )
  CherieDooryard | Jan 20, 2015 |
I saw the Disney movie of this title before reading any of the books in the series, and still think it is excellent. The movie is actually a condensed version of "The Book of Three" and "The Black Cauldron" in one. I finally managed to obtain these books, and read the second hot on the heels of the first. In the end, I think you could enjoy all three of these experiences separately, and perhaps even in any order. That is to say, having seen the film does not spoil the book (you will actually get quite a surprise at the end, as some things obviously had to be changed to condense two novels into 81 minutes), and if you have an open enough mind to appreciate that the film was not trying to be a faithful retelling but an adaptation, you can probably still enjoy it if you've read the book(s) first. Further, though most people will read "The Book of Three" before reading "The Black Cauldron," it seems like it would be possible to pick up the second book without its prequel and to follow the story without too much problem.

As for the book "The Black Cauldron" itself, I found myself comparing it a lot to "The Book of Three" and thinking, particularly in the beginning, that the story seemed very similar, but that the introduction of so many new characters at once was a bit overwhelming. However, Lloyd Alexander just has such a lovely way of describing things that it pulled me right along into the story. Good thing, too. About a third of the way in, you get a little mystic taste of what might be coming. And by two-thirds of the way, the story is just fantastic.

I don't want to give away spoilers, but the novel explores your classic themes of good and evil, but from a much more accurate perspective than most sources: they are "woven together" as part of the same web. Thus, good and evil co-exist in several characters, as they do in all of us. Since so many of these characters were left out of the movie, even if you've seen it, you really don't know what to expect of them at any given point in time. There is just enough darkness in the book for the reality of evil to be threatening, but not so much that parents should be concerned about their children reading it. I'm very sorry not to have grown up with this book, but I'll make sure any future children in my life don't share the same fate. It is at once a great work of both suspense and philosophy, and has found its way onto the short list of books that actually made me cry. ( )
1 vote quaintlittlehead | Oct 11, 2014 |
I am reading these to my son this time around. He loves them (age 6). The Black Cauldron is rather dark in tone. Most of the adventure takes place in chilly, leafless forests or drab grey marshes. Taran must make many grim choices. He also has to deal with the scornful Prince Ellidyr of Pen-Llarcau. ( )
  questbird | Jul 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
The Newbery-winning fantasy series now available in gorgeous new paperback editions! SinceThe Book of Threewas first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero. Taran is joined by an engaging cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli all of whom have become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain. Released over a period of five years, Lloyd Alexander s beautifully written tales not only captured children s imaginations but also garnered the highest critical praise. The Black Cauldronwas a Newbery Honor Book, and the final volume in the chronicles,The High King, crowned the series by winning the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Henry Holt is proud to present this classic series in a new, redesigned paperback format. The jackets feature stunning art by acclaimed fantasy artist David Wyatt, giving the books a fresh look for today s generation of young fantasy lovers. The companion book of short stories,The Foundlingis also available in paperback at this time. In their more than thirty years in print, the Chronicles of Prydain have become the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children.
Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.
added by kthomp25 | editSyndetic Solutions, Inc.
 
Sonya Goldman (Children's Literature)
Five enchanting books comprise the "Chronicles of Prydain" by Alexander. Prydain is a land with heroes and legends drawn from Welsh mythology. In TheBlack Cauldron, book 2 of the series, Taran takes further steps toward manhood. He must help destroy the vessel from which the fearsome Cauldron Born warriors spring to march with the evil lord Awren. The companions join with him again on this new adventure. Wondrous magic and a very arrogant young nobleman punctuate this gripping tale. The princess Eilonwy has been growing like a weed. Other books in the Chronicles include The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, The High King and The Book of Three. 1965, Henry Holt and Bantam Doubleday Dell, $16.96 and $4.99. Ages 10 up.

added by kthomp25 | editChildren's Literature, Sonya Goldman
 

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Lloyd Alexanderprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Langton, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pilhjerta, Ritva-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Autumn had come too swiftly.
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Do not combine this with the Disney movie!
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
In the imaginary land of Prydain, where "evil is never distant," Prince Gwydion faces dangers more threatening that have ever been dreamed of. It has become imperative that the Black Cauldron, chief implement of the evil powers of Arawn, lord of the Land of Death, be destroyed.

For each of the warriors chosen to journey to Arawn's domain, the quest has special meaning. To Ellidyr, the youngest son of an impoverished king, it means a chance to satisfy his bitter longing for fame. For Adaon, beloved for his gentleness and bravery, the quest is an omen whose significance he dreads to discover. And to Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, the adventure seems a glorious opportunity to wear his first sword, and be a man among men.

In this story, filled with great sacrifice and great adventure, each warrior fulfills his destiny in ways entirely unforeseen.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080508049X, Paperback)

The Newbery-winning fantasy series now available in gorgeous new paperback editions!

Since The Book of Three was first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero. Taran is joined by an engaging cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli--all of whom have become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain. Released over a period of five years, Lloyd Alexander's beautifully written tales not only captured children's imaginations but also garnered the highest critical praise.

The Black Cauldron was a Newbery Honor Book, and the final volume in the chronicles, The High King, crowned the series by winning the Newbery Medal for "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

Henry Holt is proud to present this classic series in a new, redesigned paperback format. The jackets feature stunning art by acclaimed fantasy artist David Wyatt, giving the books a fresh look for today's generation of young fantasy lovers. The companion book of short stories, The Foundling is also available in paperback at this time.

In their more than thirty years in print, the Chronicles of Prydain have become the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:30 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper of Prydain, faces even more dangers as he seeks the magical Black Cauldron, the chief implement of the evil powers of Arawn, lord of the Land of Death.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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