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The student news site of Tuscarora High School

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Book Review of Lloyd Alexander’s “The Black Cauldron”

Kolbe Bookstore

“The Black Cauldron” follows the journey of Taran, an assistant pig keeper, as he sets out to prevent the evil Horned King from getting the Black Cauldron. The Black Cauldron is a dangerous magical artifact with the power to raise an army of deathless soldiers. Taran is accompanied by companions, including Princess Eilonwy, a bard named Fflewddur Fflam, and a creature named Gurgi. Together on their quest, they go through obstacles and face treacherous forces, and must make difficult decisions to protect the Land of Prydain. Throughout the novel, Taran learns the importance of selflessness and courage as he discovers his own growing sense of heroism and maturity.

Taran is a young assistant pig keeper with a bold, heroic, and determined attitude towards everything. Princess Eilonwy is a headstrong and resourceful girl wanting to help Taran on his journey. Fflewddur Fflam is a modest and loyal bard who gets strung along Taran’s quest. Gurgi is a small and endearing creature who becomes Taran’s trusted companion. Gwydion is a brave and wise prince who aids Taran in his mission. The Horned King is a dark and menacing villain who seeks to use the Black Cauldron for his own evil purposes and stop Taran. Ellidyr is a proud, egoistical, and conflicted prince who meets a tragic end.  

Lloyd Alexander utilizes descriptive and figurative language, like referring to the cauldron as “cauldron of death,” creating a sense of dread and danger. He uses dialogue to reveal the characters’ personality and motivations. Each character has a distinct way of speaking in the book. The author makes use of flashbacks to provide background information on the characters’ past experiences. This helps deepen the reader’s understanding of the characters and book. The story is told from Taran’s point of view, as this allows the reader to see the story through Taran’s eyes. The diction Lloyd Alexander employs is formal and poetic, adding a sense of timelessness and splendor. The tone is suspenseful and adventurous with moments of danger and excitement. The author infuses the story with magic and wonder, making it a fantastical atmosphere for the reader. 

One of the central themes in “The Black Cauldron” is the idea of the hero’s journey, and the growth and development that comes from facing challenges and overcoming adversity. Taran goes on a long quest to find and destroy the Black Cauldron, facing danger and making difficult decisions along the way. This journey helps him learn important lessons about courage, loyalty, and sacrifice. Another central theme is the power of friendship and teamwork. He was joined by a group of companions, each bringing their own strengths and abilities to the group. Through their cooperation with each other they are able to fulfill their mission. These themes can be complicated by other themes, such as the dangers of power and ambition, as the Black Cauldron represents a source of great power that must be used wisely and carefully. 

Lloyd Alexander excels in creating a richly imaginative fantasy world filled with complex characters and intricate plot twists. The author effectively weaves together elements of traditional Welsh mythology and folklore to create a unique and enthralling story. The reason why I love the story so much is because of the idea of self sacrifice that the author perfectly executes. Taran and Ellydir fight and argue a lot, but they still work together no matter what. Near the end of the story, Ellydir sacrifices himself by jumping in the Black Cauldron to destroy it. This saves Taran and the rest of the companions, helping them defeat the Horned King. The fact that Taran and Ellydir didn’t get along well, but Ellydir still willingly sacrifices himself, was so exhilarating, magnificent, and an emotional part of the story. I was truly so captivated and amazed by how Ellidyr sacrificed himself, as it was a noble and brave act demonstrating even more courage and selflessness than I see in Taran. I was incredibly sad over his death, but it added so much to Taran’s character development and the rest of the story.

Overall, I would rate “The Black Cauldron” a 10/10 for its vivid descriptions and beautifully crafted writing. The story was engaging throughout the book and was filled with adventure, magic, and memorable characters.

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  • J

    JazzaMay 2, 2024 at 7:05 pm

    This book seems very interesting, and your very dramatic review of it makes me want to read it more. The way you deliver your emotions of this book makes it known that the book has a deep meaning to you. Hope you overcome your sadness over the death of Ellidyr one day.