YMMV / The Chronicles of Prydain
aka: Chronicles Of Prydain

  • Anticlimax Boss: Arawn, despite his build up, he just turns into a snake which is promptly killed by Taran in book five. Disney's version of The Horned King, who more closely resembles Arawn than the Horned King in the first novel (who was The Dragon to Arawn's Big Bad), also suffered from this.
  • Cargo Ship: Fflewddur and his harp.
  • Designated Hero: Taran's foolhardiness and obsession with his own glory in the early books leads many readers to wonder why we are to cheer him on. He gets better.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Horned King
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Despite appearing in only a few scenes, the Horned King was notable enough to be promoted to the Big Bad in the Animated Adaptation of the first two books (which bears the title of the second, but draws about equally from both — which is to say, very little).
  • Fridge Logic: Okay. Dyrnwyn can kill the Cauldron-Born. Why did Gwydion not twig onto this while he had it in his possession?
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The protagonists are a farm boy, a cocky fighter, a wise master, a princess, a snooty complainer, and a really hairy thing. Yeah, this may have inspired a certain something.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Ellidyr. He spends pretty much the entire book being a jerk to everyone, but especially heaps scorn on Taran, going so far as to drag him bodily across Caer Dallben and take it for granted that Dallben would punish Taran for "impertinently" backtalking a prince. This reaches new levels around the climax, when Ellidyr uses the heroes' desperation to bring the Black Cauldron to Caer Dallben as leverage to force Taran into agreeing to basically act as his servant and pretend that Ellidyr was the one who found the Cauldron (which is doubly cruel considering that Taran only got the Cauldron himself by giving up a brooch that his dead friend bequeathed to him). When they all agree to these terms, Ellidyr goes on to lose his mind and try to kill them anyway, somehow convinced that they were going to double-cross him. However, over the course of the story, it's revealed that he's such a jerk because his family squandered their nobility and fortune, leaving him with virtually nothing but his title as a prince and his ill-tempered horse. He also ends up severely beaten and taken prisoner while trying to bring the Cauldron back to Caer Dallben, and is horribly broken when he is unable to even free himself to save the group from death. He ends up throwing himself into the Cauldron at the cost of his own life because that's the only thing he can do to help the others, and does so after swearing "on what little honor [he] has left" that he only wanted the Cauldron destroyed, and never intended to use it himself.
    • To make it even more of a Tear Jerker, said ill-tempered horse deliberately runs off a cliff in anguish at Ellidyr's death.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Arawn.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Reading the final book, it seems that at least part of why actual displays of full-force magic are so rare in the series is that Prydain-style spellcasting results in this when fully unleashed.
    • In Taran Wanderer, Morda transforming the protagonists into animals is plenty creepy. Doli, who was turned into a frog, seems to constantly be ill, spasming at one point, and nearly dies from lack of water. When the rest are caught by Morda, he creepily ties them all up before enchanting them one by one, gleefully musing to Taran about how he wants to pick a form for him that's particularly humiliating and easy to enslave. And when Taran manages to free himself and fight back? Morda used his magic to make himself unkillable. Even more scary, Taran only found Morda's Soul Jar completely by chance. If he didn't have it with him, not only would it have been impossible to kill Morda, but there would have been nothing to protect Taran from the ensuing attempted transformation spell after stabbing the guy didn't work.
  • Reader Punch: Coll's death.
  • Tear Jerker: A half dozen in the last book, easily. Among the highlights: Coll dies and is buried far from home in a barren wasteland. King Rhun is killed while leading a badass rescue mission. Fflewddur Fflam destroys his beloved harp and, as one of the Sons of Don, has to leave Prydain forever. Gurgi must also leave with him. Doli and the Fair Folk all withdraw to the underground realms, never to visit the surface world again. The list goes on.
  • Hidden Depths: This is implied about Queen Teleria. In the third book, she seems like a shallow, mother-hen type. However, Eilonwy mentions in the fifth book that Teleria taught her how to achieve a goal without being pushy. Seems that she's found her own way of getting things done.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Why does Taran get over his Aesop Amnesia after Book 2? One of the reasons is that in The Book of Three, everyone comes out as well as, if not better, than they started out — he gets honor, Doli Took a Level in Kindness and gains Invisibility, Eilonwy now has friends and a home, Gwydion gets the ability to talk to animals, etc. However, The Black Cauldron involves Ellidyr and Adaon making a Heroic Sacrifice, and Taran giving up the brooch which meant so much to him. He's learned the real cost of adventures.
    • Furthermore, his near-terminal obliviousness towards Eilonwy in Book 5 may well not have (entirely) been his being clueless. At a couple of points, he seems on the verge of proposing, but seems to have decided not to do it in the middle of a war.

Alternative Title(s): Chronicles Of Prydain