Thursday, July 15, 2021

Taran Wanderer

Taran Wanderer (The Chronicles of Prydain, #4)Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The penultimate installment of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain opens with the eponymous hero of the series, Taran, pondering his parentage, and thus setting off on a journey of self-discovery. His first stop is the Marshes of Morva, finding out about the Mirror of Llunet, which he thinks may answer his questions. He visits Caer Cadarn, the fortress of King Smoit, for want of better gear, and stops by the farm of Aeddan. Thence he involves himself in a feud between Lord Goryon and Gast, with the former having stolen the latter’s prize cow and accompanying herd.

Taran is offered the kingship of Cadiffor, although he yearns to learn about his heritage first, and continues with his companions Fflewddur Fflam and Gurgi, with a curious sliver of bone and a peculiar frog found. They confront a wizard named Morda, after which Taran receives a clue about the Lake of Llunet, supposing the Mirror of the same name may be nearby. A lord named Dorath antagonizes the company, and Taran spends significant time with the farmer Craddoc Son of Custennin. Before he finds the Mirror and another confrontation, Taran stops by several masters to learn sundry crafts.

All in all, Taran Wanderer is another enjoyable entry of the Prydain series, fitting into the Bildungsroman subgenre of literature given the titular character’s emotional growth throughout the narrative, although many may find the twists and reversals disappointing. Unlike some other books, moreover, one will probably find it easier to keep track of who is talking, given different dialects such as Gurgi’s rhyming and alliterative speech. Alexander also wrote the book so that it can very much stand alone, although those who have enjoyed its precursors will definitely get the most out of it.

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