The Black Cauldron

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The Black Cauldron
AuthorLloyd Alexander
Cover artistEvaline Ness
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Chronicles of Prydain
PublishedAugust 5, 1965 (Holt, Rinehart and Winston)
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
ISBN0-8050-0992-2 (first edition, hard)
LC ClassPZ7.A3774 B1
Preceded byThe Book of Three 
Followed byThe Castle of Llyr 

The Black Cauldron is a fantasy novel written by Lloyd Alexander.[1] It was published in 1965 as the second book in The Chronicles of Prydain series.[1] The Black Cauldron was awarded a Newbery Medal.[2] The Black Cauldron centers around Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper who lives in the fantasy land of Prydain.

Plot[change | change source]

The book begins with a meeting of many leaders. They make plans to stop the evil Arawn from taking over Prydain. The leaders decide to steal the Black Cauldron, a powerful tool, from Arawn. Prince Gwydion, the war lord of Prydain, leads a band of people into Annuvin, Arawn's country. When there, they learn that the cauldron has already been stolen. The Fair Folk (fairies) tell the group that the witches of Morva stole the cauldron. Prince Ellidyr, a poor youngest son, sneaks away from the group so that he can steal the cauldron for himself. The rest of the group follows to save him from Arawn's soldiers, but are attacked themselves. In the battle, Fflewddur Fflam and Doli are separated from the group. Also, Adaon, son of the chief bard, is wounded very badly. Before he dies, he passes on a brooch to Taran. The brooch has magical powers and Taran uses it to find Fflewddur and Doli. They continue to Morva, where Taran trades the brooch for the cauldron. The group then tries to smash it, but the witches tell them it can only be destroyed when a living person dies in it willingly. On the way back, Ellidyr attacks the group and steals the cauldron. The group is later found by King Morgant and his men, who have captured Ellidyr and beaten him. Morgant plans to use the cauldron to rule Prydain. Morgant ties up the entire group and offers to free them if Taran will join his service. While they are talking, Doli turns invisible and frees the whole group. During the fight that follows, Ellidyr throws himself into the cauldron, destroying it. King Smoit then comes and attacks Morgant, killing him. The group is rescued.

Main Characters[change | change source]

  • Taran - an orphan who was raised by Dallben the Enchanter. His age is never specifically stated; he is referred to as a young man. He is the protagonist (hero) of the book.
  • Princess Eilonwy - a princess of Llyr with some magical abilities. She lives at Caer Dallben after escaping from her evil aunt.
  • Fflewddur Fflam - a king and wandering bard. He often joins Taran on his adventures.
  • Doli - a dwarf from the realm of the Fair Folk. He has the ability to turn invisible.
  • Prince Gwydion - crown prince of the ruling House of Don in Prydain.
  • Prince Ellidyr - the poor youngest son of a king. He is arrogant and disagrees often with Taran.
  • Adaon - the wise son of the chief bard. He possesses a magical brooch which helps him interpret dreams.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Library of Congress catalog record". Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  2. "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present". Association for Library Service to Children. American Library Association. Archived from the original on 24 October 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011.