Follow TV Tropes


Characters / The Chronicles of Prydain

Go To

    open/close all folders 

    The Companions 


The protagonist of the series, Taran is the Assistant Pig-Keeper of Caer Dallben, charged with caring for the oracular pig, Hen Wen. Taran is dissatisfied with this life of tedious drudgery and would prefer to have exciting adventures like his idol, Prince Gwydion. Over the course of the series, Taran is caught up in many battles for Prydain's future, but the heart of the story is more focused on Taran's own personal journey, and he undergoes an enormous amount of Character Development as he grows from a boy to a man.

  • Aesop Amnesia: At the end of The Book of Three, Taran learns that grand adventures are far more dangerous than he thought and that he was ill-prepared for the trials he had to face, and he much preferred living a peaceful life at Caer Dallben. At the beginning of The Black Cauldron, he is back to being a Heroic Wannabe again. Thankfully, the lessons stick this time.
  • Ascended Fanboy
  • Being Good Sucks: Doing the right thing for Taran always requires sacrifice, and very often demands that he give up the things that are most important to him, often with little thanks or reward. He does it anyway.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: This series is as much about Taran growing up as it is about cool adventures in a high fantasy world, if not more so.
  • Cool Horse: Melynlas, the son of Prince Gwydion’s own steed, Melyngar, is gifted to Taran in the first book, and serves his master faithfully for the rest of the series. Melynlas only allows Taran (and sometimes Eilonwy) to ride him.
  • Cool Sword: Dallben gives him one early in the second book. Taran assumes it is enchanted, a notion Dallben finds fairly repugnant. Later in the series, Taran loses this blade and forges his own sword, and eventually earns the right to wield Dyrnwyn in battle.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After numerous painful sacrifices on his part, including giving up a chance at eternal happiness in paradise, the series ends with Taran marrying Eilonwy and becoming a wise and respected ruler.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: His official title is Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper. However, Hen Wen is a very important pig, and Taran takes great pride in caring for her.
  • The Everyman: Taran is never physically described (the only thing a reader can be at all certain of is his gender) and meant to be very easy for a young audience to identify with.
  • Fearless Fool: In the first book, and to some degree in the second one. However, though he never really loses his gung-ho attitude, he gets a lot less foolish about it as the series progresses.
  • Friend to All Living Things: While not as blatant as other versions of this trope, Taran is shown on many occasions to have a very strong kinship with animals, especially Hen Wen. He is capable of taming even a savage gwythaint fledgling, and his horse, Melynlas, obeys his commands alone. Even Medwyn is impressed.
  • Glory Hound: Early on, Taran wishes to make a name for himself and be a hero. This is a major plot point in the second book.
  • Guile Hero: He spends as much time of the fourth book solving problems through his own cleverness as he does with violence.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Taran falls for the redheaded Eilonwy, but he doesn't figure it out until the end of the third book.
  • Honor Before Reason
  • Idiot Hero: In the first book, he's a Fearless Fool who doesn't know when to shut up, though even then he shows signs that he's smarter than he acts. By the third book he's mostly grown out of this.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: Taran Wanderer
  • Jumped at the Call: Taran is so eager to join Gwydion on his quest that Gwydion questions his sanity. He actually literally jumps — headfirst into a thorn bush, because he thinks that what's moving in there is a threat to Gwydion's life. It's really only Gurgi, but Gwydion is surprised and impressed by Taran's selfless bravery — if not by his judgement:
    "You may be many other things, Taran of Caer Dallben, but I see you are no coward. I offer you my thanks."
  • The Leader: He leads the group largely by being headstrong in the first book, but his defining leadership trait is charisma, which takes over as early as the second half of The Black Cauldron.
  • Magnetic Hero: Taran is amazingly charismatic, a trait that he shows signs of as early as the first book, and his ability to inspire loyalty in his friends is superior to even Gwydion's, a trait which becomes vital when he raises the Army of the White Pig in The High King.
  • Meaningful Name: He begins calling himself "Taran Wanderer" in the fourth book as he begins to outgrow his former identity.
  • Oblivious to Love: From the end of the third book onward, Taran acknowledges his love for Eilonwy. He's completely unconvinced that it's mutual, right up until his proposal near the end of the final book. Eilonwy herself even lampshades it.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: A terminal case, especially when dealing with Eilonwy. In any given situation, if it's at all possible to accidentally insult her, Taran will manage it each and every time.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Taran doesn't show any interest in anyone other than Eilonwy.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Taran takes about one per book. It’s really amazing to see how much he has changed by the end of the series.
  • The Unchosen One: Subverted. The last chapter of The High King reveals that he was The Chosen One the whole time.
  • Undying Loyalty: To all of the Companions, but most especially Gwydion.
  • Walking the Earth: The fourth book is basically Taran doing a lot of this.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Far more noticeable in later books, but even in the early books there are signs that Taran is far cannier than he seems.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Taran has a few moments of this. In the first book, he assumes that his sword is enchanted. Later, he's surprised that Coll was a hero because of his baldness, and assumes for most of Book 4 that because Eilonwy is a princess, she won't be interested in him.

Princess Eilonwy

A princess of House Llyr and the last in a line of powerful enchantresses, Eilonwy was stolen as a child by Queen Achren, who intended to use Eilonwy’s power to conquer Prydain. She escapes Achren’s clutches and serves as a loyal companion and romantic interest to Taran…sort of. She is of Taran’s age with red-gold hair and has very peculiar speech patterns. She is quite the Action Girl, despite the protests from many characters that she should Stay in the Kitchen.

  • Action Girl: She is better with a sword than Taran for much of the series.
  • Barefoot Loon: She has a lot of quirks, including a penchant for going barefoot (see Does Not Like Shoes).
  • Battle Couple: With Taran
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: She uses both weapons with equal deadliness.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Eilonwy is shown to be rather quirky.
  • Cuckoosnarker: While she originally seems to be an airhead and a scatterbrain, she is very snarky towards Taren. This is one of the first indications that she is much sharper than she may seem to be (actually one of the series' most intelligent characters).
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Eilonwy prefers going barefoot over wearing shoes (as noted by Dallben in The Castle of Llyr); when she has to wear shoes, they are usually sandals (like in The Book of Three).
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Amusingly, the fact that Eilonwy is a princess is revealed only in passing near the end of the first book, and doesn’t become a plot point until the third.
  • Fiery Redhead: The narration often identifies her as "Eilonwy of the red-gold hair." (Though in Taran Wanderer she's described as being "golden haired") The supplemental volume The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain confirms that she inherited her hair color from her mother, Princess Angharad, who was a Green-Eyed Redhead.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: "Taran of Caer Dallben, I'm not speaking to you!"
  • Generation Xerox: Like her mother, she is a redheaded royal with magical abilities, and falls in love with and marries a commoner.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Eilonwy is dedicated to becoming a capable enchantress, and can be somewhat snotty to those she sees as slacking off.
  • In Harm's Way: She would much prefer to be hiking through the wilderness than stuck at the royal court. She has this reaction upon setting up the party's first camp after starting the trip to King Smoit's castle in The High King:
    Eilonwy happily flung herself to the ground. "It's been long since I slept on comfortable roots and rocks!" she cried. "What a pleasant change from goosefeathers!"
  • Little Miss Badass: She is very young in the early books.
  • Modest Royalty: She never even mentions to Taran that she's a princess — it's Dallben who informs him.
  • Motor Mouth: Shown to be rather talkative, often beginning a conversation talking about one thing and then switching gears to whatever other subject pops into her head while speaking of the first one.
  • Peerless Love Interest: In the sense that Taran fears he can't ever be good enough for her. In fact, part of what drives him to undertake his quest in the fourth book is his hope that he'll turn out to be of high enough birth that he can ask her to marry him.
  • Princess Classic: Eilonwy appears to have become this briefly in the final book, only for she herself to lampshade how unnatural it feels.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: While her kingdom no longer exists, Eilonwy is not one to stand on the sidelines and twiddle her thumbs.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: While she comes close to being betrothed to Prince Ellidyr, it's more of a possible Arranged Marriage than anything else, and she doesn't show interest in anyone other than Taran.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Don’t tell her to do this.
  • Talks Like a Simile: Eilonwy frequently peppers her speech with metaphors and similies.
  • Tomboy Princess: Eilonwy would much rather be outside or going on adventures than spending her time on needlework or gossiping with the ladies of the court.
  • Tsundere: Acts as a Type A towards Taran.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Achren intended her to be this, but Eilonwy proved difficult to control.


A strange, shaggy forest creature who speaks in third person and uses a lot of rhymes, Gurgi is neither man nor beast. At first, Gurgi is a miserable coward who flees at the first sign of danger, but as the series goes on he grows to become brave and loyal. He comes to admire Taran for his wisdom, and eventually becomes his closest friend.

  • Big Eater: If he's not hungry, then something is probably seriously wrong. He's even given a magical food pouch which never goes empty so as to keep him from begging.
  • Cowardly Lion: After his friendship with Taran triggers his Character Development. He still gets scared, but his instinctive reaction changes from "run away" to "help friends."
  • Dirty Coward: At first. Then upgrades to Lovable Coward, and then to Cowardly Lion.
  • Hyper-Awareness: It's downplayed, and not nearly on the level of, say, Adaon, but Gurgi does tend to notice the things that other people miss. Even in the first book, Gwydion comments that Gurgi is a good source of information because he "somehow manages to see most of what happens." When it comes to finding hidden or lost things, it would probably be quicker to count the times Gurgi wasn't the one who ultimately located them.
  • The Lancer: Although he's usually dubious and woebegone, not sarcastic.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: It's never really made clear just what Gurgi is, though it's hinted that he's something in-between human and animal. According to Medwyn, "Gurgi's misfortune is that he is neither one thing nor the other, at the moment. He has lost the wisdom of animals and has not gained the learning of men. Therefore both shun him."
  • Rhymes on a Dime: A peculiar version, as he doesn't actually speaks in rhyme, but rather peppers his speech with rhymed pairs of words, such as "crunchings and munchings" (meaning food), "smackings and whackings" (meaning a beating) and "sneakings and peekings" (meaning spying).
  • Third-Person Person: The word "I" does not seem to be in his vocabulary.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: He's introduced as a self-serving nuisance and a Dirty Coward who tries and fails to be wicked and ferocious, and who tends to lapse into self-pity whenever things don't go his way (which is most of the time). Throughout the course of the first book, his developing friendship with the other characters (particularly Taran and Eilonwy) awakens a more noble and selfless side to him, and he ends up a kind and devoted friend and comrade — and the most loyal and steadfast character in the books, bar none.
  • Undying Loyalty: He refuses to be parted from Taran until the very end of the last book.

Fflewddur Fflam

A loud-mouthed bard who tells exaggeratedly wild tales of his own acts of heroism, Fflewddur is a good-hearted if overzealous adventurer who frequently accompanies Taran on his quests. It is quickly revealed that he is not actually a real bard, but is actually a king who grew bored with life at court and decided to be a bard instead. Fflewddur carries a magical harp whose strings snap when Fflewddur exaggerates a little too wildly. (They break often.) It is not all bluster though, as Fflewddur actually is fairly badass. His catchphrases are "A Fflam is (insert appropriate adjective here)!" and "Great Belin!"

  • Anime Hair: He's described as having wild yellow hair that is always sticking up in spikes.
  • Badass Normal: He has no magical abilities (while he's technically of the Sons of Don, he's from a cadet branch and has no powers) and isn't even a bard. He's a good enough fighter to match up to the Huntsmen of Annuvin.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He's much better at fighting than he is at being a bard.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's a bit of an idiot, but he's probably the most skilled warrior in Prydain short of Prince Gwydion.
  • Consummate Liar: Though due to harp strings breaking when he does, it's always clear.
  • Cool Horse: The enormous mountain cat, Llyan, eventually adopts Fflewddur and allows him to use her as a mount.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: As noted above, the narration describes him as having "spiky yellow hair," and while he's a little wayward, he's definitely got his heart in the right place.
  • In Harm's Way: He's the king of a small drafty castle in a dreary corner of Prydain. He'd much rather be trekking through the wilds than sitting at home doing kingly stuff.
  • King Incognito: Though he's not always trying to hide the fact, and he isn't worried about anyone finding out he's royalty; he just generally doesn't act or dress like it.
  • Large Ham
  • Lie Detector: His harp, although it only detects Fflewddur’s lies. Whenever he lies, a string breaks. The bigger the lie, the more strings break.
  • Magic Music: His harp practically plays itself. The music itself has no magical effects, although it does have a charming effect on Llyan.
  • Master Swordsman: He really is skilled; Taran mentions that his sword is worth six, at least.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Downplayed. He's very fond of boasting about his heroism and great deeds, but he actually is a competent and heroic badass. He tends to exaggerate though.
  • Oh My Gods!: One of Fflewddur’s favorite expressions is “Great Belin!” Belin is a God of the sun in Welsh Mythology, although in-universe he is referred to as “The King of the Sun.”
  • Refused by the Call: All Fflewddur really wants is to be a bard, but he failed at all the tests, due to his own ego.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Ironically, Fflewddur is actually a pretty lousy king and is far more competent as an adventurer.
  • Self-Insert: Fflewddur's description (unkempt blond hair, thin and gawky, large nose) is a pretty good description of Alexander himself.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: A mild case; he actually is brave and competent, but he's always trying to present himself as a lot more heroic, fearless and successful than he really is.
  • Spoony Bard: Very averted, he’s one of the deadliest fighters in the series. In fact, bards in this setting are universally respected and revered, though not normally for their fighting prowess.
  • War Is Glorious: One of the few heroic characters who seems to genuinely enjoy the glory, if not the bloodshed.
    Fflewdur (eyeing his harp cautiously): Terrified. Absolutely green.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Due to his bardic training, Fflewddur thinks he is clever. It turns out, not so much.


A member of the Fair Folk, Doli is a grumpy dwarf who complains all the time but secretly has a heart of gold. Nevertheless, he tries his hardest to be as disagreeable as possible. He is a skilled warrior and craftsman, and possesses the ability to turn invisible at will, although he hates to do this as one of the side effects is an awful ringing in his ears.

  • Achilles in His Tent: Doli frequently fumes at the companions and vows to stop helping them, but can never bring himself to actually leave them.
  • Baleful Polymorph: An encounter with Morda turns him into a frog.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Throughout the first book, he is infuriated when his attempts to turn invisible fail. Once he masters the ability, he wishes he’d never learned it at all, since it's uncomfortable if not outright painful to use, and the situations he finds himself in keeps requiring him to use it as a scout or infiltrator.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Saves the day at the end of the second book.
  • Blessed with Suck: He possesses invisibility powers, but it is very irritating to use it; specifically, it causes painful ringing in his ears. Also a case of Be Careful What You Wish For — he spends most of his time in the first book complaining that he can't become invisible. Doli is then given said powers by Gwydion as a reward for helping the companions, and spends the rest of the series complaining about it.
  • The Fair Folk: A much more benevolent example than most.
  • Fiery Redhead: He's described as having "flaming red hair," and the temper to match.
  • Got Volunteered: Doli's lot in life is to do the dirty work no other Fair Folk want to do.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Unlike Fflewddur, Gurgi, and Eilonwy, Doli only journeys with Taran for a few chapters in each book (and never appears in The Castle of Llyr).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It is pretty clear throughout the series that Doli is extremely fond of his companions, and only pretends to be grumpy to stay in character.
  • Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me: In the final book, it is implied that he will die due to exposure to Annuvin, the Land of Death, but his invisibility powers protect him.
  • Only Mostly Dead: He appears to die in the final book. He gets better, but at this point many central characters have died and the implication that Doli may have actually died was very real.
  • Only Sane Man: Sees himself as this.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted, as he doesn't display any of the stereotypical dwarfy traits other than short stature, Stout Strength, and using an axe.
  • Phrase Catcher: People tend to call him "good old Doli". He doesn't care for it.
  • Stout Strength: Well, he is a dwarf.
  • The Smart Guy: Perhaps not quite to Genius Bruiser levels, but he's very skillful and competent, and despite his grumblings he tends to give good advice and is usually worth listening to.

Prince Gwydion

Gwydion, Son of Don, is the war leader to High King Math and one of the most beloved and universally respected figures in all of Prydain. Taran idolizes him due to the many tales he has heard of Gwydion’s bravery and heroism, however, Gwydion takes no joy in his lifestyle, instead doing it to protect his people. He is very strong, brave, and wise, and leads his people in the battle against Arawn. He becomes something of a mentor to Taran.

  • Above the Influence: After capturing him and imprisoning him in Spiral Castle, Achren attempts to seduce him and turn him into her black knight, but he shrugs her off.
  • Animal Motifs: Gwydion is often likened to a wolf.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Heir of the High King of Prydain, and one of the most powerful fighters in the series.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Gwydion and Taran, initially. They soon become Back-to-Back Badasses.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Gwydion loves doing this.
  • Big Good: After his uncle's death in The High King, Gwydion becomes the High King of Prydain until the end of the book.
  • Celibate Hero: Never has a love interest or even arranged marriage, despite being first in line for the throne of the High King.
  • Cool Horse: Melyngar, the mare he always rides.
  • Cool Sword: Taran does not believe a man dressed in rags could be a Prince, until he sees how ornate and finely made Gwydion’s sword is. He upgrades to a Flaming Sword later.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Only in The Book of Three. Taran falls in with Gwydion when hunting for Hen Wen and Gwydion allows Taran to come with him, but he's obviously not happy about it and voices his annoyance at Taran's clumsiness and lack of caution several times. Taran gets better though and Gwydion comes to see him as a friend and ally.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Unites with Taran & company once or twice per book, but never stays for long, as he's always juggling multiple responsibilities.
  • Hero of Another Story: It is often implied Gwydion is in the middle of something far more important and awesome elsewhere whenever he appears.
  • King Incognito: Gwydion generally dresses like a common traveler to disguise his intentions.
  • Left for Dead: In The Book of Three, was last seen a prisoner inside Spiral Castle right before it collapsed.
  • Magic Knight: He knows some simple sorcery, but it's generally downplayed since his martial and leadership skills are stronger. In The Book of Three surviving the dungeon of Oeth-Anoeth gives him additional powers, but these are never alluded to again.
  • The Mentor: As a mentor who frequently travels with the protagonist. Unlike most, he lives to the end of the series.
  • Modest Royalty: So much so that when Taran first meets him, he suspects that Gwydion is lying about his identity, because he doesn't look anything like Taran thinks a prince should.
  • Not Quite Dead: See Left for Dead entry.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: He has vowed in the first volume that he will face the Horned King, with either one of them dying. He accomplishes this by learning from Hen Wen the Horned King's true name and using it to destroy the villain.
  • Papa Wolf: To Prydain in general, as the heir of the High King, and Taran and his friends in particular.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Nephew of King Math and one of the few with the skills to act openly against Arawn.
  • Ship Tease: There is a surprising amount of this between him and Achren.
  • Supporting Leader: When he isn't a Guest-Star Party Member, it's because he's managing his many other responsibilities.
  • UST: Achren would just love to make Gwydion her "consort..."
  • Warrior Prince: In the Aragorn tradition.
  • Wild Hair: It's referred to regularly as adding to his "wolfish" air.
  • The Wise Prince: He's one of Taran's primary mentors for most of the series.



The master of Caer Dallben and the mightiest enchanter in all of Prydain, Dallben is a steadfast ally of the Sons of Don and staunch opponent of Arawn. He is very old and wise, and serves as a mentor to the young Taran. He knows much of the happenings across Prydain, but rarely concerns himself with trivial matters, focusing all his attention on watching the movements of Annuvin. He possesses the mystical Book of Three, a tome of mysterious lore, which only he may read from.

  • All-Powerful Bystander: Despite being a powerful wizard and opponent to Arawn, Dallben rarely actually uses his powers to help the heroes.
  • Big Good: Shares this duty with High King Math.
  • Book-Ends: Most of the books begin and end with Dallben lecturing Taran about something.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Usually to Taran, when he’s being particularly childish.
  • Really 700 Years Old: He's stated to be 379 years old in the first book (though as his story in The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain reveals, he was artificially aged by reading the Book of Three - it's unknown whether this number is how old he became physically, or if he just stayed as he was after his age-up, and really has been around that long afterwards; it could also be a plain old retcon).
  • Superpower Lottery: He is probably the most powerful being in all of Prydain.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Only "half-truth", according to Dallben. "No man has ever suffered death by my hand, but those who scorn my spells do so at their own peril."


A farmer who lives at Caer Dallben, Coll's simple appearance belies his prowess as a warrior. In his youth, he marched into many battle, yet found that war was foolish and unfulfilling, and chose to become a farmer instead. He is the original owner of Hen Wen, although he knew nothing of her power until Dallben arrived. He now serves as Taran's surrogate father figure, although when called upon to serve the Sons of Don, he does not hesitate to take up his sword once again.

  • Almighty Janitor: He’s a simple farmer, yet even Gwydion respects and defers to his experience.
  • Bald of Awesome: Taran is shocked to learn Coll was once a great hero, due to his lack of hair.
  • Badass Normal: He possesses no powers or enchantments or royal lineage, but he’s still one of the mightiest warriors in Prydain.
  • Resigned to the Call: He gave up fighting long ago, but will still take up the sword when his allies need him.
  • Retired Badass: The man who once fought his way into Annuvin single-handedly to rescue a pig now passes the time by growing turnips.

Hen Wen

The oracular pig, Hen Wen, dwells at Caer Dallben, watched over and cared for by Taran and Coll. She does not possess the ability to speak, but may communicate her prophecies using special letter sticks. Due to her abilities, she is greatly respected by Dallben and Gwydion, and Arawn himself once attempted to capture Hen Wen for his own uses.


A talking crow who serves as a messenger for the Fair Folk, he later comes into the service of Taran and his companions. He is raucous and playful, although he knows when to take matters seriously.

  • The Cavalry: He shows up near the end of the final book, leading an army of crows.
  • The Gadfly: Whenever things get dull, he'll make trouble for sheer amusement.
  • Generation Xerox: His father was even worse of a rogue than he was.
  • Loveable Rogue: He seems to be considered this in-universe, though most of his thefts and 'jokes' take place off-screen.


Son of the chief bard, Taliesin, Adaon is respected for his learning and wisdom but has yet to seek admission to the bardic order. A gifted seer, healer, and warrior, he accompanies Taran on his mission in The Black Cauldron, along with Prince Ellidyr, and serves as a mediator between the two.

  • The Ace: A better scout than Gurgi, a better warrior than Ellidyr, a prophet and a Combat Medic. Adaon is a younger Gwydion in terms of ability.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: His brooch, which gives him his prophetic powers and a certain enhancement to his already-excellent wisdom.
  • Cool Horse: Lluagor, who becomes Eilonwy/Gurgi's steed.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: He has prophetic dreams, though they're usually steeped in symbolism and he isn't always sure what the exact meaning is.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: He only appears in one book, The Black Cauldron, but is a prominent character in that book.
  • Hyper-Awareness: The only character in the series who thoroughly outclasses Gurgi on this field. Adaon notices things, both about his surroundings and about the people around him. It turns out that part of this hyper awareness, as well as his prophetic dreams, come from the magical brooch he always wears... but it's made clear that a fair bit of it comes from Adaon himself.
  • Nice Guy: There isn't a mean bone in his body; he treats everyone with kindness and never speaks harshly to anyone.
  • Team Mom: A male example. Adaon tries to look out for everyone with advice and comfort whenever he can.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: He's an all-around awesome human being, bordering on The Ace at times, so of course he doesn't survive the search for the Black Cauldron. His death is foreshadowed a few times, like in one of his prophetic dreams... or, following storytelling clichés, when he starts talking about his fiancee back home whom he intends to marry when he gets back home to her.
  • Walking the Earth: As a bard, he does a lot of this.
  • Warrior Poet: Prefers to be a poet rather than a warrior, but he's skilled with the sword as well.

Prince Ellidyr

The youngest son of Pen-Llarcau, Ellidyr is a bitter, scornful young prince who looks down on those beneath him in station. Due to his family’s diminishing reputation, he is eager to claim honor and restore his family’s name. He accompanies Taran on his mission in The Black Cauldron, along with Adaon, and becomes a rival to Taran.

  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite his many character flaws, he is a very skilled warrior.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: For reasons that are never really explained, Ellidyr has phenomenal strength.
  • Cool Horse: One of the hints that Ellidyr may not be as a big of a jerk as he seems is how loyal the otherwise-intractable Islimach is to him. To the point that when he dies, she jumps off the nearest cliff.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to Taran’s usual companions who are all unambiguously noble people, Ellidyr is a much darker and more complicated character.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Along with Redemption Equals Death; the two tropes are closely linked in his case. He willingly sacrifices himself to the Black Cauldron in order to make up for having unwittingly delivered it to the bad guy in the first place — and to a lesser extent to make amends for having been such a Jerkass.
  • Determinator: His most admirable trait. If he sets himself a goal, he will see it through, no matter the cost.
  • Everybody Has Standards: He steals the Cauldron from the companions and even tries to kill them to ensure he gets the glory for taking it, but he genuinely believes that it should be destroyed and is horrified by Morgant's plans.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Although Ellidyr and Taran are never really friends.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Gets an awesome one near the end of the book.
  • Impoverished Patrician: And not happy about it.
  • I Owe You My Life: After his treachery and thirst for glory deliver the Black Cauldron right into the hands of a man who intends to use it to create his own army of Cauldron-born undead monstrosities, Ellidyr realizes the depth of his folly, and swears to serve Taran to the best of his ability. In the end, even unarmed and bound, he finds one last way to serve him, and gives his life for the right reasons.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: With his arms tied behind his back, and unable to fight or do anything else to repay the debt of servitude he feels he owes Taran, Ellidyr dashes past all guards, shrugging off injuries, and hurls himself into the Black Cauldron alive, destroying the evil it represents forever at the cost of his own life.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Very deeply hidden, but he does turn out to have a sense of honor, and willing to make amends for his mistakes.
  • Jerkass: From teaching 'the pig-boy' some manners to driving off his companions in a paranoid rage, he's rarely anything but derisive and spiteful.
  • Not So Different: He is deliberately set up as a parallel to Taran.
  • Prince Charmless: While Ellidyr is a strong and powerful fighter, he's got a bad attitude and a worse personality, and he rubs everyone else in the group the wrong way.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Although he does have his limits.
  • Redemption Equals Death: At the end, as Gwydion sadly prepares to honor the dead traitor Morgant for the man he once was, he honors Ellidyr himself for the man he became.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: The youngest of impoverished royalty with too many sons. His family fortune is gone and he feels helpless against the fates, who have condemned him to poverty and mockery. Then, when he finally wins a place in a mission that could bring him immortal glory... he is assigned to 'the reserves' with a failed bard and a pig-keeper.
  • Together in Death: His horse commits suicide after her master dies.
  • Token Evil Teammate: He seems to be this, but it is not so simple.

King Morgant

One of the many kings of Prydain. He rides to Gwydion's war council at Caer Dallben and pledges his army in support of capturing the Black Cauldron from Arawn's clutches, but in truth he seeks the Cauldron for himself. He serves as the hidden half of the Big Bad Duumvirate of The Black Cauldron (the book, not the movie).

  • Black and Gray Morality: Gwydion uses his fall as an example to teach Taran how fine the line between good and evil truly is.
  • Deal with the Devil: Implied. It's indicated that he made a deal with Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch to learn the secrets of the Black Cauldron (possibly to help the Sons of Don), and that the bargain cost him dearly.

Prince Rhun

The Prince of Mona, Rhun is foppish, clumsy, and generally clueless. He is, however, ultimately well-meaning and tries his best even though things never seem to work out for him. He accompanies Taran on his quest on the Isle of Mona.

  • Born Unlucky: Despite being a prince, the poor guy just can’t catch a break.
  • The Ditz: Borderline Cloudcuckoolander at times; he generally doesn't have much of a clue.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Occasionally points out obvious things that the other characters have overlooked.
  • The Fool: Occasionally his clumsiness leads him to remarkably good fortune.
  • Killed Off for Real: In the High King, he dies after freeing King Smoit's castle from Magg.
  • The Load: In The Castle of Llyr, despite his royalty.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Lampshaded by Taran.
  • Nice Guy: Despite not being terribly useful most of the time, and somewhat of an annoyance with his bumbling cluelessness, there's not a mean bone in his body and he treats everyone with jovial kindness.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Even the author notes that The Castle of Llyr is probably the most comedic of the books, and that this is pretty much all down to Prince Rhun.
  • The Pollyanna: Despite his misfortunes he never loses his bright and sunny attitude, and if he's down it's never for long.
  • Romantic False Lead: Rhun’s parents intend for Rhun and Eilonwy to be married, much to Taran’s chagrin. However, Rhun himself is not particularly interested and gladly steps aside when he realizes she’d be much happier with Taran.
  • Sacrificial Lion: His death near the beginning of The High King indicates the raised stakes of that book.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat
  • Took a Level in Badass: He seems to have gotten his act together in The High King, though his cheerful clumsiness remains.

King Smoit

The king of Cantrev Cadiffor and its surrounding lands, and an ally of the Sons of Don. King Smoit is always ready to rush to war, but only sets out for good causes.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's described as a jolly, fun-loving character in peacetime, and as a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He's loud, booming, and not at all afraid of getting into a scuffle or six.
  • A Father to His Men: Despite his fondness for fighting he's a genuinely good and caring king, who looks after his subjects in peacetime, and his soldiers in wartime.


A member of the Fair Folk, and agent of King Eiddileg, sovereign of the Fair Folk. While he appears to be a thin and sickly creature, he's surprisingly adept at espionage and infiltration. Doesn't stop him from complaining about it though.

  • Lame Excuse: Uses these to get out of fighting. He's more than capable of kicking everyone in the room's ass ... he'd just rather not.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: When he actually has to, he shows everyone why he's the greatest of the Fair Folk's agents.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Upon first glance, he seems pretty useless, weak and unwilling to help. This is pretty much just a role he adopts, as he's actually far more formidable, and even far more helpful, than he likes to pretend.


A gifted chemist and would-be con-artist; when the companions first encounter him, he'd accidentally managed to turn himself and his cat into giants. He's Brought Down to Normal and joins the companions on their final adventure, with mixed results.

  • Apologetic Attacker: When attempting to cure his gigantism, he finally decides that the cure will require a human being as an ingredient. Both his cowardice and what little decency he has argue against it, but he finally decides that he's going to have to murder somebody.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Played with; from time to time his complains are grounded in common sense.
  • Didn't Think This Through: He turned himself into a giant inside a small cave. Nice going...
  • Dirty Coward: He falls into this role after Gurgi grows out of it.
  • Drunk with Power: He gets better, once he's Brought Down to Normal again.
  • The Eeyore: As a giant, Glew is miserable, morose, and perpetually unhappy.
  • For Science!: Very little is made of his motives for his experimenting with potions.
  • Grass Is Greener: As as a young dwarf, Glew only only wanted to be tall. As a giant, he was miserable and could only think of being small again. After being shrunk down to dwarf-size again, he constantly laments how much better things were when he was a giant. Admittedly, his morose giant persona is very different from his prickly dwarf one.
  • It's All About Me: Utterly ruins a plan Taran and the others come up with (that could have saved the day), and then accuses them of being selfish for not thinking of his lost fortune.
  • The Load: Often shifting into The Millstone.
  • Mad Scientist: An unusually benign version, especially compared to Morda.
  • The Napoleon: Often described as being the shortest member of the companions aside from Doli once he's restored to normal.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: He goes out of his way to remind people that he was, in fact, a giant at one point.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In the end, it's agreed that he did ultimately help save the day, and he gets to join the Sons of Don on their trip to the Summer Lands.


A young shepherd from the Free Commots who convinces Taran to help defend his village from a group of bandits. He later joins Taran's group in order to guide them through the mountains of Annuvin to Arawn's fortress.

King Pryderi

A handsome and beloved king and staunch ally of the Sons of Don ... until he betrays them and sides with Arawn.

  • Animal Motifs: His emblem is that of a hawk. He also indulges in falconry as a pastime.
  • The Starscream: He takes over this role from Achren almost immediately.

King Eiddilleg

The king of the Fair Folk.

Orwen, Orddu, and Orgoch

A trio of witches in the Marshes of Morva who tend to finish each other's sentences. They take turns acting as each other and are mentioned as having raised Dallben, whom they refer to as "little Dallben".

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, the three are, at the most, morally ambiguous, rather than evil, serve as stealth mentors to Taran, and show disdain for Arawn and his use of their cauldron. The movie downgrades them to simple minor villains.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: They casually reclaim a powerful magical item from Arawn's heavily defended fortress, without any fear of retaliation, and essentially concede the idea that they could conquer Prydain themselves any time they felt like it.
  • Cool Old Lady: Once the options of getting turned into animals and/or eaten are off the table, they're actually kind of funny, and they do seem to care about Taran and Dallben as much as they can care about anyone.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Those who dare to brave the Marshes have the opportunity to obtain knowledge, wealth, power, magical items, or some combination of those things from the witches - for a price.
  • Extreme Omnivore: It's implied that they'll eat anything.
  • God in Human Form: It's heavily implied the three witches are more than they seem. The introduction of the third book outright states they have previously been the the Fates, the Norns and the Triple Goddess and their current form is just their latest form.
  • Quirky Household: The three of them raised Dallben. That must've been...interesting.
  • Stealth Mentor: Mixed with Trickster Mentor, they serve as this to Taran.
  • The Weird Sisters: Mysterious old women who have lived for hundreds of years and are masters of magic.


A guardian of animals.

  • Barefoot Sage: He doesn't wear shoes.
  • Expy: Of Noah. It's even mentioned at one point that he once rescued two of each animal from a flood. With an ark.
  • Friend to All Living Things: He loves all animals, and they love him in return.
  • Nice Hat: Wears a jewel-encrusted headband.
  • Not So Different: From Taran as it turns out. Especially notable when Taran befriends the baby gwythaint.


A shepherd who Taran meets on his way to the Free Commots. He claims to be Taran's father, leaving Taran discouraged because he thought that he was of noble birth.


A legendary potter in Commot Merin. He gives Taran some lessons.

High King Math

The supreme regent of Prydain and one of the two Big Goods. Presumably the father of Gwydion. (In the Mabinogion, Gwydion was Math's nephew and heir; having the son of one's sister inherit was a common practice in ancient Britain, as fatherhood was sometimes uncertain, but you always knew who someone's mother was. In Prydain, Gwydion is Math's heir but it's never stated what their relation is.)

"Face me, Assistant Pig-Keeper," Math commanded in a quiet voice. "Fear not to see what I myself know.The hand of death reaches towards mine and I am loath not to clasp it. I have long heard the horn ofGwyn the Hunter, that summons even a king to his barrow home."
  • Martial Pacifist: Stands up to the Cauldron-Born right after expressing his sorrow at all the bloodshed.
  • Papa Wolf: To Prydain as a whole.
  • Wizard Beard: He's not a wizard but still has quite an impressive one.
  • With Great Power: He notes that a shepherd's staff is easier and in some ways better than a crown: One wears you down, and one bears you up.


Arawn Death-Lord

Arawn Death-Lord is the ruler of Annuvin, the Land of Death, and the Evil Overlord threatening Prydain’s stability. Unlike most Evil Overlords, Arawn is not a ruthless tyrant, but a cunning trickster who manipulates mortals through guile and deceit. Over time, he has stolen away most of Prydain’s greatest treasures and secrets, hording them in his fortress. He commands many terrible servants, including the Gwythaints, the Cauldron-Born and the Huntsmen of Annuvin.

  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Arawn gained power in the first place by betraying Achren and apparently hasn't kept a single promise since. Everyone who tries to work with him in the series ends up getting screwed over in some way (often fatally). The only exceptions are the marsh witches - Arawn still tries to break his promise to them but they are able to ignore his efforts.
  • Deal with the Devil: Orwen, Orddu, and Orgoch reveal that he made a deal with them to have ("borrow") the Cauldron from them. They never say what price he paid, but they say it was a very steep one.
  • Evil Is Petty: Arawn doesn't do anything with the treasures and information he has collected over the centuries. He doesn't even allow his servants to do so — he just hoards all that stuff so no one can have it.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Notably more so than your average Evil Overlord. While he does have a lot of power and commands many terrible creatures, he's just as likely to use trickery and deceit to reach his goals, playing people's weaknesses against them.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Reconstructed. Arawn generally acts through proxies and rarely does anything on his own. This ends in Book 5, where it's shown that he can and will get his hands dirty when the reward justifies the risks. It also shows why he generally doesn't.
  • Scaled Up: Arawn turns into a snake. It doesn’t help.
  • Shapeshifter: He can take on the shape and form of any person or creature he desires. This is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness, because while it means he gains all the powers of the creature he changes into, he also inherits all its weaknesses,

Queen Achren

The vain, beautiful Queen Achren was once the ruler of all Prydain. Ages ago, she was betrayed by her subordinate, Arawn, who became the new Evil Overlord. While she continues to serve Arawn, she is obsessed with finding a way to reclaim her former power and become ruler once again. Although not as powerful as she once was, Achren is still a formidable enchantress, and Gwydion fears her as much as he does Arawn.

The Horned King

Arawn's mightiest war leader and the primary antagonist of The Book of Three and of the film version of The Black Cauldron, the Horned King is a bestial man who takes his name from the antlered mask he wears. No one knows his true name. Arawn has imbued him with great power, and he is charged with marshalling the Southern Cantrevs and leading an attack on Caer Dathyl.

  • Ambiguously Human: Though he's not a Horned Humanoid like his film counterpart, he has burning eyes, and he comes off too bestial to be human either. There's also the matter of the way he dies when his name is spoken out loud.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: When Gwydion says the Horned King's secret name, the villain starts flaming, with his horns turning crimson and his mask melting. Taran doesn't see anything else before passing out, but the ground tumbles and Eilonwy says afterwards that there wasn't much left of the Horned King, suggesting that he died in a fiery explosion.
  • The Dragon: He's Arawn's avowed champion until his death.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Prince Gwydion. Gwydion is High King Math's war-leader and Prydain's renowned hero, while the dreaded Horned King is Arawn's champion at least as powerful as Gwydion. They have Animal Motifs that turn around the traditional stereotypes of predator and prey. The heroic and wise Gwydion is often compared to a wolf. The Horned King's antlered mask gives his head a look of a stag, but he — as Dallben puts it — sports with death as you might sport with a dog.
  • The Faceless: No man has seen the face behind the skull-mask of the Horned King. It's not revealed even during his death.
  • The Heavy: Arawn's Orcus on His Throne style leads naturally to the Horned King, his general, being the main adversary in Book 1.
  • Hellish Horse: He rides a black and foam-splattered horse.
  • Horned Humanoid: Averted in contrast to his film counterpart. He wears a mask that has antlers attached to it.
  • Horns of Villainy: He's The Dragon of the Big Bad and decorates his mask with cruelly-curving antlers.
  • I Know Your True Name: His secret name is the one thing that can destroy him. Only Hen Wen knows it, which is why the Horned King chases her. Once Gwydion learns the name from Hen Wen, he destroys the Horned King by saying the name to him out loud.
  • Large and in Charge: Though his size is not explicitly compared to his warriors, the writing describes him to be gigantic.
  • Red Is Violent: He wears a crimson cloak and his arms are stained red. He's also a fearsome warlord who burns men alive in a rite of war and plans to crush the Sons of Don with the mighty army he has assembled.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: His mask is a bleached human skull.
  • Silent Antagonist: He has no spoken lines, only outcries of anger or pain.
  • The Un Reveal: His secret name. Eilonwy asks from Gwydion what it is, but Gwydion just says it must remain a secret and that it wasn't half as pretty as hers.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He chases after Taran and Eilonwy in the climax, and would have likely killed them if not for Gwydion.


The Chief Steward of the House of Mona. He serves as a spy for and Dragon to Achren in The Castle of Llyr, and then to Arawn in The High King.

  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: He appears as a doddering overweight busybody, yet he manages to kidnap Eilonwy and spirit her off to Llyr right out from under both Taran and Gwydion's noses.


An old hermit living in the backwoods of Prydain. He also happens to be an Evil Sorcerer with a penchant for torturing his victims in cruel and unusual ways.


A wandering bandit and leader of a band of petty thugs who stalk the Free Commots. Like Achren, he is a recurring villain and comes the closest to inflicting real harm on the companions on several occasions.

  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: He's torn limb from limb by the series' two resident Savage Wolves, Brynach and Briavael.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: He steals Taran's sword, thinking it to be of excellent craftsmanship, only to have it shattered to pieces by a blade Taran makes for himself.
  • Knight of Cerebus: He proves to be this, both thematically for the series, and personally for Taran. After Dorath shows up in the narrative, named characters start dying in droves.

Alternative Title(s): Chronicles Of Prydain


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: