Chapter 3: Gurgi

What do we learn about Prince Gwydion in Chapter 3? What reasoning does he show?

Taran learns to respect Prince Gwydion. Taran was disappointed to see him wearing a coarse jacket, but Gwydion is highly competent at tracking. Nothing escapes his eyes.

We learn that Gwydion knows quite a bit about Coll and Dallben.

Gwydion reasons well. He knows that Hen Wen will stay away from Annuvin because of bad things that happened to her there. Therefore, he knows one direction in which Hen Wen will not run.

In addition, Hen Wen will not go to another evil place: Spiral Castle, where Queen Achren lives. So that is another place where Prince Gwydion knows not to look for Hen Wen.

What does Taran learn about Coll and Hen Wen in Chapter 3?

Hen Wen once lived with a farmer who did not know her powers.

Hen Wen was captured by Arawn’s men and taken to Annuvin, where bad things happened to her.

A mighty warrior rescued her. That man was Coll (who is bald headed). Bards sing epic poetry about this rescue and this rescuer.

Who is Queen Achren?

Queen Achren is as evil as she is beautiful.

One of her literary ancestors is probably Morgan le Fay of the King Arthur myth.

Her castle is called Spiral Castle. Hen Wen will stay away from this castle.

Write a short character analysis of Gurgi based on what you learn in Chapter 3.

Gurgi smells like a wet wolfhound.

Gurgi is a fantastic creature — apparently, he is both animal and human. He can talk, but he is hairy and his feet are flexible.

Gurgi is always hungry, it seems. He always wants “crunchings and munchings.”

Gurgi seems to pity himself a lot.

Gurgi is superficially threatening. He hints that he would like to eat Taran, but Prince Gwydion points out that Gurgi is more of a nuisance rather than anything else.

Gurgi does know what is going on in the forest. He is aware of the Horned King and his warriors, and he knows that they are searching for Hen Wen.

Gurgi has a characteristic kind of speech.

What is characteristic about Gurgi’s speech?

Gurgi’s speech has two notable characteristics:

1) Occasional Rhyme.

Ex: “crunchings and munchings” (38 — and many other pages).

2) Occasional Alliteration.

Ex: “swimmings and splashings” (40).

Of course, as we will see later, Gurgi will sometimes use rhyme and alliteration in the same phrase.


Rhyme: identical end sounds of two words (catand hat)

Alliteration: identical consonant sounds at the beginning of words (catand cape, hatand help)

What do we learn about Dallben in Chapter 3?

Prince Gwydion says that Dallben is sly and knows what is happening around Caer Dallben. The fire that Gurgi talked about must have a trap that Dallben set up for the Horned King and his warriors.

Discuss the theme of education in Chapter 3. How does Taran’s education progress (if it does)?

Taran is learning not to judge by appearances.

Coll is bald (and stout), but he is a hero. Prince Gwydion points out that you can’t tell how brave a man is by looking at how much hair is on his head.

Prince Gwydion wears a coarse jacket and a travel-stained cloak, but he is worthy of respect. His eyes miss nothing while he is tracking Hen Wen.

Taran should be learning to obey Prince Gwydion. Prince Gwydion told him to stay close behind him, but Taran lagged behind. This allowed Gurgi to jump on him.

Chapter 4: The Gwythaints

What are Gwythaints?

Gwythaints are dangerous and carnivorous birds that serve the forces of evil — at least usually. They have been trained by the evil Arawn in Annuvin to be his flying spies and messengers. Prince Gwydion tells Taran that the gwythaints are called “the Eyes of Annuvin” (45). He adds:

“The errand of the gwythaints is less to kill than to bring information. For generations they have been trained for this. Arawn understands their language and they are in his power from the moment they leave the egg.” (46)

Who are the Cauldron-Born?

The Cauldron-Born were once living men. However, Arawn steeped their bodies in a cauldron to bring them back to a kind of life.

The Cauldron-Born are Arawn’s slaves, and they do his bidding.

The Cauldron-Born lose power the further they go from Annuvin and the longer they stay away from Annuvin.

Arawn sometimes sends the Cauldron-Born out of Annuvin to perform tasks for him.

The Cauldron-Born are warriors.

The Cauldron-Born are silent.

The Cauldron-Born now have no memory of themselves as living men.

What is foreshadowing?

The 6thedition of A Handbook to Literatureby C. Hugh Holman and William Harmon defines “foreshadowing” in this way: “The presentation of material in a work in such a way that later events are prepared for” (201).

Here are a couple of other definitions:

Foreshadowing is the use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in literature.


Definition: A literary device used to hint at events that will follow later in the story, sometimes generating feelings of anxiety or suspense. Anton Chekhov once said that “if there is a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, it must fire in the last.” That remark captures the essence of foreshadowing.


What do we learn about Medwyn in Chapter 4? (By the way, this is foreshadowing.)

Medwyn is a character whom we will see later. Thus, the talk about him here is foreshadowing what will happen later.

Medwyn is a mythological character.

Gwydion has heard of him, but has never seen him. Other people have sought Medwyn, but  they have been unable to see him.

Medwyn knows and understands animals.

What do we learn about Gwen the Hunter in Chapter 4?

Gwen the Hunter is riding now.

Gwen the Hunter serves a master whom Gwydion does not know.

Gwen the Hunter rides alone with his dogs, and slaughter follows. (This means that war is coming to Prydain.)

The hunting horn of Gwen the Hunter is a warning to men: Watch out! War is coming!

Gwen the Hunter knows when war is coming.

The echoes of Gwen’s hunting horn are worse than the sound of the hunting horn itself. They can cause men to lose hope and give up because the good things in life seem to be forgotten. Men who listen to the echoes wander hopelessly over the earth.

Write a short character analysis of the Proud Walkers based on what you learn in Chapter 4.

The Proud Walkers are the warriors of the Horned King.

They hark back to ancient times when men were cruel and “no more than savages” (52).

They dance a dance of war.

What is the purpose of the baskets?

Men are in the baskets, which are then set on fire, killing the men inside.

The baskets are an old method of executing men.

What is your opinion of the end of Chapter 4?

The end of Chapter 4 is a cliffhanger.

Gwydion has discovered that the cantrevs of the south have joined the Horned King and that there will be war.

Gwydion needs to return to Caer Dathyl immediately to warn the kingdom, but instead five mounted warriors begin to charge him and Taran and Gurgi.

Discuss the theme of education in Chapter 4. How does Taran’s education progress (if it does)?

Taran certainly learns about evil by seeing the men executed when the baskets are set on fire.

Taran learns by listening to Gwydion, who tells him about Medwyn and Gwen the Hunter and the Proud Walkers and the Cauldron-Born and Gwythaints.

Taran learns to be cautious. He jumps into a bush where Gurgi is hiding because he is afraid that whoever or whatever is in the bush is a threat to Gwydion. (Gwydion tells Taran to be more cautious, but he acknowledges that Taran is brave.)

Gwydion tells Taran that he “scorn[s] the help of no man” (50). This is an important lesson.

Gwydion tells Taran that he must be responsible for his own actions after Taran does not tell Gwydion that he could not swim before crossing the river and after Taran blames Gwydion’s horse, Melyngar, for sitting on him while crossing the river (43). Presumably, Taran learns that learning to swim takes time and effort.

Chapter 5: The Broken Sword

What magical powers does Prince Gwydion have?

Prince Gwydion has learned some magic from Dallben. Earlier, to make a point to Taran, Gwydion made a weaving of grass. In Chapter 5, Gwydion uses the weaving to neutralize an enemy warrior. He flings the weaving into the man’s face, and the weaving grows and binds the man.

What do we about Prince Gwydion in Chapter 5?

We certainly learn that Prince Gwydion is a good and brave warrior. Gwydion fights several warriors in Chapter 5, and he fights well despite being outnumbered and eventually defeated.

Prince Gwydion is a caretaker of Taran. Gwydion knows that he cannot defeat the Cauldron-Born, so he tells Taran to flee. (Taran is both stubborn and brave, so he stays and tries to fight.)

Later, in the castle of Queen Achren, Gwydion knows that she is trying to get information from Taran — it is a trap. Gwydion knows that Queen Achren is evil. Gwydion is defiant in her presence.

How well do the Cauldron-Born fight?

The Cauldron-Born fight well. Prince Gwydion drives the point of his sword deep into the heart of one of the Cauldron-Born, but since the Cauldron-Born are already dead, the wound has no effect on him.

The Cauldron-Born fight silently. This is something that Taran finds upsetting. It is eerie.

What do we learn about Queen Achren in Chapter 5?

Queen Achren has a forebear in Morgan le Fay. Queen Achren is beautiful, with silver hair, but she is evil through and through.

Queen Achren pretends to be nice to Taran to get information from him, but when Gwydion points out that she is evil, she says that Taran is of no consequence, dead or alive.

Queen Achren breaks Gwydion’s sword, and she intends to have him tortured until he begs for death.

Discuss the theme of education in Chapter 5. How does Taran’s education progress (if it does)?

Taran learns more about evil. Certainly, Queen Achren is evil through and through.

Again, Taran learns not to judge by appearances. Queen Achren is beautiful, but she is evil.

Perhaps Taran learns to obey Gwydion’s orders. Gwydion ordered Taran to flee; Taran did not flee, and so he was captured.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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