Monday, July 26, 2021

The High King

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

The final entry of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain opens with Taran reuniting with Eilonwy, along with Prince Rhun, Glew now reverted from giant size, and Gwydion the Prince of Don, with the Huntsmen of Annuvin having gotten their hands on the dark blade, Dyrnwyn. Early on, moreover, the enchantress Achren shows her true loyalties, after which comes a visit to King Smoit’s castle, where Magg also shows his own loyalties and holds several of the main characters hostage. Thus, Eilonwy summons Gwystyl of the Fair Folk, gaining implements that can help liberate them.

Taran rallies the Free Commots he had visited towards the end of Taran Wanderer to learn various crafts, with Arawn Death-Lord’s forces, chief among them being remaining Cauldron-Born, attacking the free lands of Prydain, with an eventual journey into the dark country of Annuvin. Eilonwy briefly separates from the company, which battles elements such as the cold on their way to the heart of Annuvin, where Dyrnwyn is, and battles against the gwythaints and Death-Lord himself arise. The ultimate fate of Prydain depends on the outcome of this battle, with the conclusion ending the main series neatly.

Overall, I found this a solid conclusion to the Chronicles of Prydain, with Alexander having proven himself to be the American Tolkien, given his fantasy series’ mythological roots, in its case Welsh mythology, similar to how the Lord of the Rings books stemmed from Nordic myths. As such, there are some similarities to Tolkien’s own writings towards the end, although Alexander definitely did a good job setting his series apart from other fantasy works, with his stories definitely being well ahead of their time, surefire treats for children of any generation.

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