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The Black Cauldron (novel)

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Black Cauldron3

The 1980s Dell Laurel-Leaf cover.

The Black Cauldron

The 2000s digital painting cover.

The Black Cauldron is the second book in The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. It is an epic fantasy, in which the protagonists are embroiled in a grand struggle against evil, supernatural forces. Yet Alexander weaves into its story personal themes of oath-keeping, self-sacrifice, the distinction between honor and honesty, loyalty and friendship, and the consequences of over-reaching power-hunger.

For an overview of the various editions and cover illustrations of The Black Cauldron, see Book Editions and Illustrations.

This page contains spoilers. If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not read further.

Brief Synopsis

At a council at Caer Dallben, Prince Gwydion explained to all the kings and war leaders assembled that Arawn Death-Lord was using the Black Cauldron to create more of the Cauldron-Born, deathless warriors. Gwydion's plan was to seize the Cauldron and destroy it. The plan proceeded apace, involving a diversionary military assault, until Doli discovered that the evil pot vanished. One of the Fair Folk disclosed that it had been taken by Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch, and Taran, Eilonwy, Fflewddur and Gurgi set out to find it.

When they reached the Marshes of Morva, the enchantresses agreed to trade the Cauldron for a valuable item. Each protagonist in turn offered his most precious possession, but in the end Taran's desire to win the day compelled him to give up the Brooch of Adaon, an enchanted medallion that imbued him with great insight, in exchange. Yet the Cauldron was a terrible burden, and the only man who could help them lift it was Ellidyr -- a proud and arrogant prince who would claim all the glory of finding the Cauldron for himself.

Black Cauldron4

The 1970s Dell Yearling cover by Don Maitz (used on 5-book Chronicles boxed set).

BlackCauldron7

The 1990s cover by Jody Lee (with Morva and Kaw featured at bottom).

Black cauldron5

Unknown date or imprint.

Black-Cauldron-Disney-cover

The mid-80s Laurel-Leaf edition with Disney poster artwork.

Chapters

  1. The Council at Caer Dallben
  2. The Naming of the Tasks
  3. Adaon
  4. In the Shadow of Dark Gate
  5. The Huntsmen of Annuvin
  6. Gwystyl
  7. Kaw
  8. A Stone in the Shoe
  9. The Brooch
  10. The Marshes of Morva
  11. The Cottage
  12. Little Dallben
  13. The Plan
  14. The Price
  15. The Black Crochan
  16. The River
  17. The Choice
  18. The Loss
  19. The War Lord
  20. The Final Price

Characters

Black Cauldron2

The 1960s English hardcover art.

Black Cauldron Book Cover

Late 60s/early 70s Dell paperback cover by Evaline Ness.

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