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To complete my obsession: it was one day to Smoit's castle. But otherwise it all seemed very big.

One thing I'd not mentioned: there's this big river, Great Avren, and Dallben seems to be the only on living on his side of it. They never meet or mention anyone else; all of Prydain is on the other side. This book did mention Avren Harbor, but plausibly just as a place to tie up your ship, not an active port.

For that matter, not many people live on the Avren, period: no river fisherfolk or shipping ever mentioned.

The book was an enjoyable read but basically an action-filled climax as predicted, and to a large degree, remembered; I think Castle of Llyr and Taran Wanderer might be more fun and deeper respectively. Though this does have Eilonwy as sword-wielding pants-wearing action heroine. (Also has her threatened with rape, if you're old enough to read between the lines.)

The end of magic at the end is completely out of the blue. Taran Wanderer with its skill over magic items did kind of foreshadow it thematically, but the actual events, no. Sons of Don going home after Arawn's defeat, that's fine, they came here to fight him. All enchantment fading, and Eilonwy being forced to the Summer Country? No, just no. It's like a very ham-handed "growing up and putting aside fantasy" metaphor tacked on at the last minute. One could fanwank: maybe Dyrnwyn was forged out of the font of magic, or Arawn had stolen and linked himself to such a font. But it'd be pure fanwanking, and the text itself is a total surprise. Not like LotR, where the elven call to the west, and the possibility of the elven-rings being linked to the One, were mentioned early and often, and there still wasn't any hard cut-off (except for the elven-rings.)

When we first see Eilonwy again, it's notable that she's prattling away like she always has, but Taran's language sounds much more formal and "grown-up".

Nobody seems to think that the Cauldron-Born could be entangled or disabled, even if they can't be killed.

It's impressive how one little coffer of papers that Gurgi grabbed and forgot about manages to hold all the craft secrets of Prydain.


Unrelatedly, I was looking something up in the Hobbit, and right after the first Rivendell song it says that he loved elves and seldom met them. This implies he had met elves before. This is perfectly plausible given that they traipse through the Shire in LotR but it puts a different perspective on pre-adventure Bilbo; they do seem to keep to themselves, so he'd have had to seek them out. Not very Respectable for the gentry of Hobbiton!

That made me think that they sang out his name from having met him, but then the text says he'd never met these elves before, so we're back to elf magic or gossip.

I hear there's going to be a movie. I'm afraid. I didn't like Fellowship and still haven't seen the other two.

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Damien Sullivan

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