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Taran Wanderer: The Chronicles of Prydain, Book 4

Taran Wanderer: The Chronicles of Prydain, Book 4

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Taran Wanderer: The Chronicles of Prydain, Book 4

évaluations:
4.5/5 (55 évaluations)
Longueur:
223 pages
3 heures
Sortie:
May 16, 2006
ISBN:
9781429961998
Format:
Livre

Description

Taran Wanderer, the fourth book in Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain

Taran is an Assistant Pig-Keeper no longer--he has become a hero. Now he dreams of winning the hand of Princess Eilonwy, but how can someone who has spent his whole life caring for a pig hope to marry royalty? Taran must find out who he really is. Eager to learn his origins and hoping to discover noble roots, Taran sets off with the faithful Gurgi.

The journey takes the companions to the three witches in the Marshes of Morva and through the many realms of Prydain. At last they reach the mystical Mirror of Llunet, which reveals a person's true identity. Yet Taran may not be ready to face the truth. . . .

Includes a new pronunciation guide.

Sortie:
May 16, 2006
ISBN:
9781429961998
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Lloyd Alexander is one of the most respected and best-loved of American authors, with a huge following worldwide. He has written over forty books for adults and children. The Chronicles of Prydain have won many awards, including the highly prestigious Newbery Medal for The High King, as well as the Newbery Honour for The Black Cauldron and the ALA Notable Book for The Book of Three. He is best known for his tales of high fantasy and adventure, and in 2003 he was awarded a Life Achievement Award by the World Fantasy Convention.

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Taran Wanderer - Lloyd Alexander

Page

CHAPTER ONE

Who Am I?

It was full springtime, with promise of the richest summer the farm had ever seen. The orchard was white with fragrant blossoms; the newly planted fields lay light as green mist. Yet the sights and scents gave Taran little joy. To him, Caer Dallben was empty. Though he helped Coll with the weeding and cultivating, and tended the white pig, Hen Wen, with as much care as ever, he went about his tasks distractedly. One thought alone was in his mind.

Now, my boy, Coll said good-naturedly, as they finished the morning’s milking, I’ve seen you restless as a wolf on a tether ever since you came back from the Isle of Mona. Pine for the Princess Eilonwy if you must, but don’t upset the milk pail. The stout old warrior clapped Taran on the shoulder. Come, cheer up. I’ll teach you the high secrets of planting turnips. Or raising cabbages. Or whatever you might want to know.

Taran shook his head. What I would know only Dallben can tell me.

Take my counsel, then, said Coll. Trouble Dallben with none of your questions. His thoughts are on deeper matters. Have patience and bide your time.

Taran rose to his feet. I can bide my time no longer. It is in my heart to speak with him now.

Have a care, warned Coll as Taran strode to the door of the shed. His disposition rubs a little thin!

Taran made his way through the cluster of low-roofed farm buildings. In the cottage, at the hearthside, a black-robed woman crouched and tended the cooking fire. She did not raise her head or speak. It was Achren. Thwarted in her scheme to regain her ancient power from the ruined Castle of Llyr, the once-haughty Queen had accepted the refuge Dallben offered; though, by her own choice, she who had long ago ruled Prydain toiled now at the tasks Eilonwy had done before departing for Mona, and at day’s end silently vanished to her pallet of straw in the granary.

Before Dallben’s chamber Taran paused uneasily, then rapped quickly on the door. Entering at the enchanter’s command, he found Dallben bent over The Book of Three, which lay open on the cluttered table. Much as he longed for a glimpse at even one page of this secret volume, Taran kept his distance from it. Once, in boyhood, he dared touch the ancient, leather-bound tome, and his fingers smarted again at the memory.

I never cease to wonder, Dallben testily remarked, closing The Book of Three and glancing at Taran, that the young, with all their pride of strength, should find their own concerns such a weighty burden they must be shared with the old. Whereas, the old—he waived a frail, bony hand. "But no matter, no matter. For the sake of my temper I hope your purpose in interrupting me is an excellent one.

First, before you ask, Dallben went on, I assure you the Princess Eilonwy is well and no more unhappy than any pretty young madcap obliged to turn a hand to sewing instead of swordplay. Second, you are as aware as I am that Kaw has not yet returned. By now, I daresay he has borne my potion to Glew’s cavern, and the giant-by-accident who troubled you so much on Mona will shrink to the small stature he once had. But you also know your crow for a rascal and one to linger wherever he finds sport. Finally, an Assistant Pig-Keeper should have tasks enough to busy himself outdoors. What, then, brings you here?

One thing only, Taran said. All that I have I owe to your kindness. You have given me a home and a name, and let me live as a son in your household. Yet who am I, in truth? Who are my parents? You have taught me much, but kept this always from me.

Since it has been always thus, Dallben replied, why should it trouble you now?

When Taran bowed his head and did not answer, the old enchanter smiled shrewdly at him. Speak up, my boy. If you want truth, you should begin by giving it. Behind your question I think I see the shadow of a certain golden-haired Princess. Is that not so?

Taran’s face flushed. It is so, he murmured. He raised his eyes to meet Dallben’s. When Eilonwy returns, it—it is in my heart to ask her to wed. But this I cannot do, he burst out, this I will not do until I learn who I am. An unknown foundling with a borrowed name cannot ask for the hand of a Princess. What is my parentage? I cannot rest until I know. Am I lowly born or nobly?

To my mind, Dallben said softly, the latter would please you better.

It would be my hope, Taran admitted, a little abashed. But no matter. If there is honor—yes, let me share it. If there is shame, let me face it.

It takes as much strength of heart to share the one as to face the other, Dallben replied gently. He turned his careworn face to Taran. But alas, he said, what you ask I may not answer. Prince Gwydion knows no more than I, he went on, sensing Taran’s thought. Nor can the High King Math help you.

Then let me learn for myself, Taran cried. Give me leave to seek my own answer.

Dallben studied him carefully. The enchanter’s eyes fell on The Book of Three and he gazed long at it, as though his glance penetrated deep into the worn leather volume.

Once the apple is ripe, he murmured to himself, no man can turn it back to a greening. His voice grew heavy with sorrow as he said to Taran, Is this indeed your wish?

Taran’s heart quickened. I ask nothing more.

Dallben nodded. So it must be. Journey, then, wherever you choose. Learn what lies in your power to learn.

You have all my thanks, Taran cried joyfully, bowing deeply. Let me start without delay. I am ready …

Before he could finish the door burst open and a shaggy figure sped across the chamber and flung itself at Taran’s feet. No, no, no! howled Gurgi at the top of his voice, rocking back and forth and waving his hairy arms. Sharp-eared Gurgi hears all! Oh, yes, with listenings behind the door! His face wrinkled in misery and he shook his matted head so violently he nearly sprawled flat on the floor. Poor Gurgi will be lone and lorn with whinings and pinings! he moaned. Oh, he must go with master, yes, yes!

Taran put a hand on Gurgi’s shoulder. It would sadden me to leave you, old friend. But my road, I fear, may be a long one.

Faithful Gurgi will follow! pleaded Gurgi. He is strong, bold, and clever to keep kindly master from harmful hurtings!

Gurgi began snuffling loudly, whimpering and moaning more desperately than before; and Taran, who could not bring himself to deny the unhappy creature, looked questioningly at Dallben.

A strange glance of pity crossed the enchanter’s face. Gurgi’s staunchness and good sense I do not doubt, he said to Taran. Though before your search is ended, the comfort of his kindly heart may stand you in better stead. Yes, he added slowly, if Gurgi is willing, let him journey with you.

Gurgi gave a joyous yelp, and Taran bowed gratefully to the enchanter.

So be it, Dallben said. Your road indeed will not be easy, but set out on it as you choose. Though you may not find what you seek, you will surely return a little wiser—and perhaps even grown to manhood in your own right.

That night Taran lay restless. Dallben had agreed the two companions could depart in the morning, but for Taran the hours until sunrise weighed like the links of a heavy chain. A plan had formed in his mind, but he had said nothing of it to Dallben, Coll, or Gurgi; for he was half fearful of what he had decided. While his heart ached at the thought of leaving Caer Dallben, it ached the more with impatience to begin his journey; and it was as though his yearning for Eilonwy, the love he had often hidden or even denied, now swelled like a flood, driving him before it.

Long before dawn Taran rose and saddled the gray, silver-maned stallion, Melynlas. While Gurgi, blinking and yawning, readied his own mount, a short, stocky pony almost as shaggy as himself, Taran went alone to Hen Wen’s enclosure. As though she had already sensed Taran’s decision, the white pig squealed dolefully as he knelt and put an arm around her.

Farewell, Hen, Taran said, scratching her bristly chin. Remember me kindly. Coll will care for you until I … Oh, Hen, he murmured, shall I come happily to the end of my quest? Can you tell me? Can you give me some sign of good hope?

In answer, however, the oracular pig only wheezed and grunted anxiously. Taran sighed and gave Hen Wen a last affectionate pat. Dallben had hobbled into the dooryard, and beside him Coll raised a torch, for the morning still was dark. Like Dallben’s, the old warrior’s face in the wavering light was filled with fond concern. Taran embraced them, and to him it seemed his love for both had never been greater than at this leave-taking as they said their farewells.

Gurgi sat hunched atop the pony. Slung from his shoulder was his leather wallet with its inexhaustible supply of food. Bearing only his sword at his belt and the silver-bound battle horn Eilonwy had given him, Taran swung astride the impatient Melynlas, constraining himself not to glance backward, knowing if he did, his parting would grieve him the more deeply.

The two wayfarers rode steadily while the sun climbed higher above the rolling, tree-fringed hills. Taran had spoken little, and Gurgi trotted quietly behind him, delving now and again into the leather wallet for a handful of food which he munched contentedly. When they halted to water their mounts at a stream, Gurgi clambered down and went to Taran’s side.

Kindly master, he cried, faithful Gurgi follows as he leads, oh, yes! Where does he journey first with amblings and ramblings? To noble Lord Gwydion at Caer Dathyl? Gurgi longs to see high golden towers and great halls for feastings.

I, too, answered Taran. But it would be labor lost. Dallben has told me Prince Gwydion and King Math know nothing of my parentage.

Then to kingdom of Fflewddur Fflam? Yes, yes! Bold bard will welcome us with meetings and greetings, with merry hummings and strummings!

Taran smiled at Gurgi’s eagerness, but shook his head. No, my friend, not to Caer Dathyl, nor to Fflewddur’s realm. He turned his eyes westward. I have thought carefully of this, and believe there is only one place where I might find what I seek, he said slowly. The Marshes of Morva.

No sooner had he spoken these words than he saw Gurgi’s face turn ashen. The creature’s jaw dropped; he clapped his hands to his shaggy head, and began gasping and choking frightfully.

No, oh, no! Gurgi howled. Dangers lurk in evil Marshes! Bold but cautious Gurgi fears for his poor tender head! He wants never to return there. Fearsome enchantresses would have turned him into a toad with hoppings and floppings! Oh, terrible Orddu! Terrible Orwen! And Orgoch, oh, Orgoch, worst of all!

Yet I mean to face them again, Taran said. Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch—she, or they, or whatever they may really be—are as powerful as Dallben. Perhaps more powerful. Nothing is hidden from them; all secrets are open. They would know the truth. Could it not be, he went on, his voice quickening hopefully, could it not be that my parents were of noble lineage? And for some secret reason left me with Dallben to foster?

But kindly master is noble! Gurgi cried. Noble, generous, and good to humble Gurgi! No need to ask enchantresses!

I speak of noble blood, Taran replied, smiling at Gurgi’s protests. If Dallben cannot tell me, then Orddu may. Whether she will, I do not know, he added. "But I must try.

I won’t have you risk your poor tender head, Taran continued. You shall find a hiding place at the edge of the Marshes and wait for me there.

No, no, Gurgi moaned. He blinked wretchedly and his voice fell so low that Taran could scarcely hear his trembling whisper. Faithful Gurgi follows, as he promised.

They set out again. For some days after fording Great Avren they bore quickly westward along the green slopes of the riverbank, leaving it reluctantly to wend north across a fallow plain. Gurgi’s face puckered anxiously, and Taran sensed the creature’s disquiet no less than his own. The closer they drew to the Marshes the more he questioned the wisdom of his choice. His plan which had seemed so fitting in the safety of Caer Dallben now struck him as rash, a foolhardy venture. There were moments when, Taran admitted to himself, had Gurgi spun the pony about and bolted homeward, he would have gladly done likewise.

Another day’s travel and the marshland stretched before them, bleak, ugly, untouched by spring. The sight and scent of the bogs and the dull, stagnant pools filled Taran with loathing. The rotting turf sucked greedily at the hooves of Melynlas. The pony snorted fearfully. Warning Gurgi to stay close behind him and stray neither to the right nor left, Taran cautiously guided the stallion through beds of reeds shoulder-high, keeping to the firmer ground at the rim of the swamps.

The narrow neck at the upper reaches of the Marshes could be crossed with least danger, and the path indeed was burned into his memory. Here, when he and Eilonwy, Gurgi, and Fflewddur had sought the Black Cauldron, the Huntsmen of Annuvin had attacked them, and Taran had lived the moment again and again in nightmares. Giving Melynlas rein, he beckoned to Gurgi and rode into the Marshes. The stallion faltered a sickening instant, then found footing on the chain of islands that lay beneath the brackish water. At the far side, without Taran’s urging, Melynlas broke into a gallop, and the pony pelted after, as though fleeing for its life. Beyond the stunted trees at the end of a long gully, Taran halted. Orddu’s cottage lay straight ahead.

Built against the side of a high mound, half hidden by sod and branches, it seemed in even greater disrepair than Taran had remembered. The thatched roof, like a huge bird’s nest, straggled down to block the narrow windows; a spiderweb of mold covered the walls, which looked ready to tumble at any moment. In the crooked doorway stood Orddu herself.

Heart pounding, Taran swung from the saddle. Holding his head high, in a silence broken only by the chattering of Gurgi’s teeth, he strode slowly across the dooryard. Orddu was watching him with sharp, black eyes. If she was surprised, the enchantress gave no sign other than to bend forward a little and peer more closely at Taran. Her shapeless robe flapped about her knees; the jeweled clasps and pins glittered in her weedy tangle of disheveled hair as she nodded her head rapidly and with evident satisfaction.

Yes, and so it is! Orddu called out pleasantly. The dear little fledgling and the—whatever-you-call-it. But you’ve grown much taller, my duck. How troublesome it must be should you ever want to climb down a rabbit hole. Come in, come in, she hurried on, beckoning. So pale you are, poor thing. You’ve not been ill?

Taran followed her not without uneasiness, while Gurgi, shuddering, clung to him. Beware, beware, the creature whimpered. Warm welcomings give Gurgi frosty chillings.

The three enchantresses, so far as Taran could see, had been busy at household tasks. Orgoch, her black hood shrouding her features, sat on a rickety stool, trying without great success to tease cockleburs from a lapful of wool shearings. Orwen, if indeed it was Orwen, was turning a rather lopsided spinning wheel; the milky white beads dangling from her neck seemed in danger of catching in the spokes. Orddu herself, he guessed, had been at the loom that stood amid piles of ancient, rusted weapons in a corner of the cottage. The work on the frame had gone forward somewhat, but it was far from done; knotted, twisted threads straggled in all directions, and what looked like some of Orgoch’s cockleburs were snagged in the warp and weft. Taran could make out nothing of the pattern, though it seemed to him, as if by some trick of his eyes, that vague shapes, human and animal, moved and shifted through the

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4.3
55 évaluations / 41 Avis
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  • (4/5)
    In which Taran must lose himself to find himself...

    The most literary of the series, Taran Wanderer is probably my favourite thus far. Alexander seems to have got all his Tolkien ambition out of his system, and this book retreats back into a lovely, picaresque character study.

    While several of the main characters return, many - including a couple of notable omissions - get a rest, which allows the format to focus on Taran's development. Here, he surpasses so many young orphan boys of fantasy lore, establishing a quest to genuinely find himself, whatever the answer may be. Along the way, he encounters numerous paragons of evil, of treachery, of cowardice, self-deceit, hypocrisy, and vapidity. At the same time, he meets people completely contented with their lot, and attempts to find his own place in the world.

    There's not as much outright comedy in this book, although there are many moments of truth that earn a warm, knowing smile. And, along with the bard and the Fair Folk, Gurgi provides more than his fair share of joys. Is there any sight more beautiful in this series than that of Gurgi, perfectly cheerful, at the head of a small army of sheep? Adorable.

    I'll be interested to see how Alexander ties things up in the final book, but certainly Taran Wanderer is an admirable continuation of the story.
  • (5/5)
    It's odd that the fourth book in a series of five should stand out as the best, but there you go. After a couple of enjoyable but unimpressive sequels to "The Book of Three", this book breaks formula and focuses on the assistant pig-keeper, Taran. He's growing up and realizes his love for a certain lady. This orphan lad feels unworthy to seek her hand, however, until he discovers the truth behind his parentage. So he goes off on a quest, leaving the cliches and most of the supporting cast behind. I guess I may even have to steal this one from my kids.--J.
  • (2/5)
    I think I say the basically the same thing after reading each book in this series, so again: the plots and writing are too simplistic, and I don't find Taran compelling. Even less so in this book, with all his angst about his origins.

    I've realized that my mental image of Gurgi is that of Taz the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes.
  • (5/5)
    The fourth volume in "The Chronicles of Prydain" is yet another compelling adventure. I must say that I found the ending a bit disappointing, but at least it was not something I expected. However, getting there was absolutely fantastic. This book, perhaps more than any other in the series, is chock-full of amazing life lessons and wisdom for readers young and old, and Alexander manages to spin his tales in such a way that one never gets bored reading.
  • (4/5)
    I have been re-reading his classic series aloud to my son. It has been many years since I read them so it is also a pleasurable rediscovery for myself. 'Taran Wanderer' is in some ways the most difficult of the series, especially for children. It has fewer adventurous and fantastic elements than the other books. Taran does not have many of his companions around him (except for the faithful Gurgi) and spends the book searching for himself and his parentage in lands far from those familar to him. The book has several emotional low points for Taran, one of which (Craddoc falsely claiming Taran as his son and puncturing all of his high-born dreams) is so depressing that my son didn't want to read on for quite a while; the mood of the whole book is serious and heavy-hearted. Taran persists, however, and comes to some mature realisations about himself.
  • (4/5)
    The series continues. Taran and Gurgi go out on their own to seek Taran's roots. There is some adventure in this story, but not as much as in previous books. This seems to be more of a Taran-coming-of-age book, where he helps various workers, and through these experiences learns more about himself than any ancestry search could show him.
  • (5/5)
    Taran Wanderer is the fourth Chronicle of Prydain and one of the most philosophical. Here Lloyd Alexander pits his Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran against his own worst enemy: himself. As he grows older, Taran begins to think of seriously aspiring to the Princess Eilonwy's hand — but how can he, when he knows nothing of his parentage or birth? Hoping to find a noble lineage that would make him an eligible suitor, Taran sets out with his friends to discover what he can of the world and his place in it. It's a quest story, really, but the object of the quest is self-knowledge rather than a magical item. Of course, there is a magical item that comes in very handy in one of his adventures along the way (Morda's finger — to which Rowling's Horcruxes bear a very direct resemblance). But what Taran is really looking for is within. This sounds like a very 21st-century, self-esteemist, humanist perspective (no thanks!), but it isn't because ultimately Taran doesn't find his fulfillment within himself. He actually faces failure after failure in his own abilities as he travels the Free Commots and seeks to master the various trades and callings of its people. When he does find Craddoc, a humble shepherd-farmer who claims to be his father, Taran must make the hardest choice of all. Throughout the story there's a clear-cut villain in Dorath the outlaw, but on reflection I think he is really just a personification of Taran's own worst side: what he could become. After The Castle of Llyr, this was one of my less-loved of the Prydain stories, probably due to the lack of battles and enchantments and traditionally heroic deeds. But rereading as an adult has made me appreciate its depth a little more. The direction Alexander takes his story is so much more genuine and wholesome than the usual Disney tripe of "look within to find your destiny." Character is critical but it's outside ourselves we must look for lasting fulfillment. What a fantastic setup for the final and most moving Prydain Chronicle... recommended!
  • (4/5)
    Probably my favorite of the Prydain series. It's a change from the earlier books in that Taran's quest is more personal than public and heroic, and the ending isn't quite as triumphant as his earlier missions. (Also, Eilonwy's absence means less humor than usual.) But I appreciated that he finally comes into his own and learns what is really important about identity (something I took longer to learn myself), and enjoyed his adventures among the Commot folk, especially Llonio the Lucky.
  • (5/5)
    My memory was that this was my favorite book of the series, and the audiobook did not disappoint. Taran is at his best when he is separated from his more able companions; his weakness and inexperience made him easy for me to identify with as a kid, and as an adult I find it all the more appealing. While Gwydion and to a lesser extent Eilonwy are both Mary Sues, Taran comes more slowly to find his defining characteristic. Unusual in fantasy lit, Taran is repeatedly bested in battle. The part of the book I remembered most clearly was the time he spends among the common folk learning their trades. It is poignant and grounding as an introduction a side of the world rarely seen in fantasy and especially in young adult fantasy. And yet it is just fantastic enough that the young man would show quick aptitude for such diverse tasks that in my memory it shines as the best part of the series; I was surprised on this re-read to find what a short chapter of the novel it was.
  • (5/5)
    Taran begin to feel the walls of Caer Dallben closing around him. He loves Eilonwy and wants to prove that he's worthy of her - but as long as he is nothing but a foundling, he'll never be able to claim her as his own. So he asks for, and is granted permission to, seek his parentage. First, approaches Orddu and her sisters to ask where he should look and they send him on a quest that starts with him losing everything and results in knowledge of his own self-worth and abilities.This is a really good book about growing up and becoming independent. There is definitely wisdom here and it should be required reading for all tweens... In my personal opinion.
  • (5/5)
    Book 4 in the great Prydain series. A must for any fantasy fan. I think this one might be my favorite. No second favorite, the first is my favorite. On to #5 tomorrow.
  • (4/5)
    This one is so very allegorical, but it is signature Lloyd Alexander and enjoyable nonetheless. The inverted Robin Hood is an idea that Alexander may have reused in his later "The Kestrel". Taran is mixing with commoners for the first time. He's an egalitarian sort in some significant ways, and has some commoner skills, but some of these interactions are still a bit clunky.
  • (3/5)
    The title of this book says it all. Taran wanders. And wanders and wanders. He meets many people and trys many things and grows up. The weakest and most boring of the Prydain series, but necessary in the whole scheme of Taran and his story of discovering who he is.
  • (5/5)
    First read 30 odd years ago, rereading again because this series is an absolute joy.
  • (5/5)
    Taran Wanderer is either a book you will love most of the five or the one you will like least, it seems. As for me, the fourth of the series is perhaps my favorite.Learning who you are is a journey that each of us must take, but few of us have the influences of such a strong cast of supporting characters. Yes, this is a book of characters, not of action. This is a story of development, not necessarily of battle. For those reasons, I, a mother, cherish it.
  • (3/5)
    I lost interest in this series for a while, unfortunately. I still feel that I would have liked it a lot more if I'd read it when I was younger: unlike The Dark is Rising, I doubt this is going to be a series I reread.

    It's a coming of age story, with a lot of helpful hints on morality, as with the other books. As before, it's a bit unsubtle, for me. Things from the previous books start to come together: that's one thing this series handles quite well. The mythology is interesting, though not precisely used in the most original of ways.
  • (4/5)
    This one is so different from the other Prydain books. It focuses very closely on Taran's development--almost all other characters are missing or seen only in passing--and reads almost like a fable. The last two books have definitely been "set-up" books, deepening the characters and the stakes form what started as a light-hearted series. I don't remember enough about The High King to know if the payoff is worth it, but I'm eager to see.
  • (5/5)
    Fascinating, the changes time brings! This was once my least favourite of the Prydain novels--a set of disjointed episodes with little direct bearing on the grand sweep of the series as a whole. The princess Eilonwy and Lord Gwydion don't even appear in this one, although Alexander finds ways to shoehorn in the other usuals, like Gurgi and Fflewddur Fflam. No, what's changed over time is perspective--and change and growth in perspective are what this book's all about, and so I guess it's no wonder kids (or me, as a kid) miss(ed) that. The parts of this that seemed uninspired before now seem canny--the duelling lords, Goryon-the-Valiant-who's-actually-a-coward and Gast-the-Openhanded-who's not that either, who were such hamhanded caricatures that the smart eight-year-old got all offended and fastidious--well, they're meant to be that, of course, with a wink, and the adult sees that Taran's coming of age consists in the reversal of relations between him and his fantasy land. Before he was a junior Quixote, frequently making an ass of himself because the real rules of fairyland were a carnivalized, tricksy version of the epic heroes-are-rewarded-in-this-best-of-all-possible-worlds that he thought he existed in. Not that Alexander's Neil Gaiman, a caster of masques--his Faerie is very much in the traditional mould. But Taran was the callow youth who saw it as more rulebound and reliable than it was, and when he tried to inhabit those forms by aping the epic hero, he was a cock. Now, he understands that things fall apart and rules are slippery, and that you navigate Faerie the exactly the same as you navigate the wonderworld of the Real (what ultimately makes all fairystories compelling)--with a dialogic sense and a reflexivity, with a trust in yourself that doesn't depend on being given "the answer" by the Mirror of Llunet, but on remaining at home within the evershifting boundaries and changes of the subject. So Gast and Goryon are not characters, they're a scenario, a Rabelaisian or Swiftian play of overthetopness, pointed up by the episode where Taran and Gurgi are mistaken for giants--and Taran, smoothly stepping in with a narrative resolution cribbed from King Solomon, gives them the renormative "right answer" their absurd excess seeks. But then he moves on, and all the bits that seemed just a little bit off to the child--the understanding-seeker, the pattern-finder, the narrative-synthesizer--seem appropriately ironized now. I won't do the list; but that's how I found it. And so when Taran goes through another fairy-sequence at the end, learning in heavily symbolic, conventionalized ways that life is in turn a net for catching fish, a smithy for the tempering, a loom for the weaving, clay to be moulded--what he's really learning is that humanness precedes genre, milieu, even fictionality or nonfictionality. He's learning how to see things in shades of grey--that would be the simplest way to boil all this down (the most black-and-white way, ha ha) and that when you know who you are you can wake up and handle yourself tomorrow in a Prydainish cantrev or a call centre. I remember being young and thankfully fitting the Free Commots and Taran's defense thereof into a proto-socialist narrative that does that young kid credit, but it's not what was actually going on. It's showing not only that common folk, and all the craftsman shit they do that the kid was bored by but the adult reflects on with the tolerance of one who has worked, are more important than the Lord Gwydions, but that what you do doesn't depend on your provenance or the story in which you find yourself. There's no epic arc or reward for Taran as he toils beside Craddoc, the good man who's kept him there with lies. There's just knowing that he did his best--confidence in his own strength and a sense of how to engage with, cover for, and in time heal and ameliorate his weaknesses. There's just himself, the only achievable constant (and that only in a very complex sense) in strange, shifting, surprising human life.
  • (3/5)
    This one was slower than the previous three as far as action and adventure go. As an adult, I still enjoyed the book quite a bit, but it's been my kids' least favorite so far.
  • (3/5)
    This is not my favorite of The Chronicles of Prydain. I think I like it less because it is so much more traditional in its form and is focused squarely on Taran. There's some lovely writing here and the story itself has some beautiful bittersweet moments, but the almost ritualistic hero's journey of this book leaves me a little cold.With Eilonwy off learning to be a proper princess, Taran and Gurgi set off to discover who Taran's parents are. Along the way they meet bandits (like Robin Hood, only not very pleasant - then again, maybe Robin Hood wasn't all that pleasant, either) and farmers and craftsmen and Taran makes stops along the way learning what each of them does, trying on each kind of life like a new cloak.There's plenty of learning to be had here and lots of character development, but not nearly as much humor and without Eilonwy I don't like the book as much. I guess she's my hero in these books.
  • (5/5)
    Definitely my favorite of the Prydain Chronicles so far, Taran Wanderer follows Taran and Gurgi on their journey as Taran seeks to learn the truth of his birth in hopes of being worthy of the hand of Princess Eilonwy. Told in picaresque style rather than the high fantasy style of the previous novels, Taran learns many things from a variety of sources before his journey is through. This whole thing just seemed to ring more true to me than the previous high-flying adventures.

    Listening to Listening Library edition narrated by James Langton. Previously read for Children's Literature in Spring 2007.
  • (3/5)
    Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, who wants to be a hero, goes questing for his parentage in hope that will prove noble for the sake of Eilonwy, the princess with the red-gold hair. Accompanied by several loyal friends, Taran begins his search and is sent by three enchantresses of the Marshes of Morva to consult to Mirror of Llunet for the answers he is seeking. In his adventures, he learns life’s hardest lesson, to accept failure. Taran Wanderer, in a moving climax at the mirror, learns his own identity and the secret of the mirror. This book is more mature than the rest of the series and is an attempt at a coming of age tale for Taran. It as such moves slower and has more introspection or what passes for it. Taran, as a character, maintains his selfishness, whininess, and lack of empathy but under the guise of being more mature. The side characters performs their normal roles with little growth or hope for development. The message of the book is salvageable but its packaging leaves much to be desired.
  • (4/5)
    I could really identify with Taran's struggles.
  • (4/5)
    Possibly the best of the 5 books, Taran Wanderer tells of Taran's search for his parentage and the people that he meets on the way. It is the typical story of a boy discovering who he is through his journeys, but it feels like the most thought-through and complete novels in the series.
  • (4/5)
    Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper becomes Taran the Wanderer in order to ascertain his parentage and in the process becomes close friends with the non-royal inhabitants of Prydain and manages to learn what is really of importance in life. Not as much magic as in the other books, but a bildungsroman that sets the stage for the final installment. Without the knowledge Taran gains in these travels, the finale would not be as powerful as it is.
  • (4/5)
    The fourth book in the Prydain series is probably my favorite so far. Taran goes on a quest to seek the truth about his parents and encounters many adventures along the way. In the last half of the book, he learns many valuable lessons, lessons that can work for young readers too. He does seek what he is after, but not in the way the reader would expect. This book is probably more thoughtful and deep than the other three, at least in my opinion.
  • (5/5)
    A childhood favorite that has influenced my own writings and many others'.
  • (4/5)
    Having been taken in as a foundling by the sorcerer Dallben, and now missing his childhood friend,the Princess Eilonwy, Taran sets off on a quest (with the ever faithful Gurgi in tow) to discover his heritage before he can act on his feelings for her. But will he be as satisfied if he finds he comes of common stock rather than noble, as he dreams?This is book 4 of the Chronicles of Prydain. I feel the story flows more smoothly this time, with some nice details and descriptions. However, the passage of time is somewhat glossed over, such as when Taran is hard at work learning the intricacies of a craft from basics through to the finished product. This is a nicely written children's book about the magical land of Prydain.
  • (4/5)
    This was my favorite of the series when I was younger, but this time around I couldn't help but wince at Taran's whininess. It's still an excellent novel, but Taran's quest for identity isn't as compelling now as it was when I was in middle school.
  • (5/5)
    The first half of this book is somewhat boring. But, once it hits the middle, it gets really good and interesting. However, it gets even better in the last few chapters when Taran, the main character, begins wandering around and learning a lot of different skills and ideas from different people that share them with him. He also, in this part of the book, is in a setting (a setting that everyone always is in) where he is learning from those older than him and being a follower, to turning around and being a leader to those younger than him. That situation is really cool to see in this book because Taran, when being the leader, is leading someone that is in the exact same position that he was in at the beginning of these chronicles. It's funny because Taran has grown up and matured so much since then and he now has the opportunity to help another go through the same process.