Farewells is the twenty-first and final chapter in The High King, and the final chapter of The Chronicles of Prydain. Here one of the most heart-wrenching decisions in all of fantasy literature must be made; the writing of it caused author Lloyd Alexander to weep. Many readers have been baffled or disappointed by the choice the hero makes, but a close reading of the material makes it clear that he could not have chosen any other path without losing his moral authority or turning his back on the many promises he has made along the way -- both to himself and others.
After his dream, Taran realized there was much work to do in order to rebuild Prydain, and he had made many promises to himself and to the folk of the land to do so. Thus he determined to remain behind, and so not accompany his Companions and the Sons of Don to the Summer Country. Eilonwy, at first saddened, chose to give up her magical nature via the Fair Folk ring which Prince Gwydion once gave her, in order to remain with Taran.Dallben then revealed that Taran had completed a path prophesied in The Book of Three whereby an orphan of "no station in life" would slay a serpent, choose a kingdom of sorrow over one of joy, and so succeed the Sons of Don as High King. Many years ago, Dallben traveled to seek such a one to try to hasten the day; he found a baby hidden in the trees beside a battlefield of great carnage, without any token of parentage. Taran fulfilled all these prophesied criteria, and so was made High King. He and Eilonwy were married and presented to a cheering crowd.
Taran received many gifts including The Book of Three itself, although "it no longer foretells what is to come, only what has been". In it Dallben wrote a conclusion: "And thus did an Assistant Pig-Keeper become High King of Prydain." And in time, only the bards knew the truth of it.
|The High King|
|1. Homecoming | 2. The Letter Sticks | 3. The Prophecy | 4. King Smoit's Castle | 5. The Watcher | 6. A Clutch of Eggs | 7. The King of Mona | 8. The Messengers | 9. The Banner | 10. The Coming of Pryderi | 11. The Fortress | 12. The Red Fallows | 13. Darkness | 14. Daylight | 15. The River of Ice | 16. The Enchanter | 17. The Snowstorm | 18. Mount Dragon | 19. The Death-Lord | 20. The Gift | 21. Farewells|