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 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.
- Honor Before Reason
- 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.
- Kid Hero
- 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.
- 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.
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
- 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).
- Princess Diahan from Lloyd Alexander's earlier novel Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth, who was an obvious precursor to Eilonwy (evident in both her appearance and personality), is consistently described as wearing sandals.
- 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." 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!"
- Go-Getter Girl: Eilonwy is dedicated to becoming a capable enchantress, and can be somewhat snotty to those she sees as slacking off.
- Heroes Want Redheads: By the third book, Taran's pretty irrevocably in love with her, although it's not until near the end that he admits it even to himself. He states it blatantly in the fourth book.
- 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
- 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.
- Rebellious Princess
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Stay in the Kitchen: Don’t tell her to do this.
- Talks Like a Simile
- Tomboy Princess
- Tyke-Bomb: Achren intended her to be this, but Eilonwy proved difficult to control.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!
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. His 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Undying Loyalty: He refuses to be parted from Taran until the very end of the last book.
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.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's much better at fighting than he is at being a bard.
- Consummate Liar: Though due to harp strings breaking, 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.
- 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.”
- Older Sidekick
- 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.
- 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.
- Wandering Minstrel
- 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.
- Wild Hair
- 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.
- Badass Beard
- 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 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.
- The Sixth Ranger: Especially in the final book.
- 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.
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.
- 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. It is revealed that this is because Dallben is forbidden from killing.
- Badass Beard
- Badass Teacher
- Big Good: Shares this duty with High King Math.
- Book Ends: Most of the books begin and end with Dallben lecturing Taran about something.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In the final book, Arawn sends Pryderi to slay Dallben. Dallben demonstrates why he is the Big Good.
- Deadpan Snarker: Usually to Taran, when he’s being particularly childish.
- Enlightenment Superpowers
- Good Is Not Nice: He is probably Taran’s most outspoken critic.
- Obstructive Code of Conduct
- Really 700 Years Old
- Seeker Archetype
- 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."
- Trickster Mentor
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.
- The Confidant: To Taran, especially in the last book.
- Heroic Sacrifice
- Mentor Occupational Hazard
- Nice Guy
- Old Master
- 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.
- Stout Strength
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.
- Babies Ever After
- Blessed with Suck: Oracular powers are a heavy burden for a pig.
- Brought Down to Normal: At the end. She is happier this way.
- Loyal Animal Companion
- No Man of Woman Born: Her final prophecy.
- Non-Human Sidekick
- Spider-Sense: She can sense evil, and tends to flip out when she does.
- Waif Prophet: A non-human example.
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.
- A Boy and His Crow
- The Cavalry: Shows up near the end of the final book, leading an army of crows.
- Cool Pet
- 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.
- Instant Messenger Crow
- Loveable Rogue: He seems to be considered this in-universe, though most of his thefts and 'jokes' take place off-screen.
- Hulk Speak
- Loyal Animal Companion
- Non-Human Sidekick
- Speech-Impaired Animal: He generally speaks in one-word sentences.
- Talking Animal
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.
- Cool Horse: Lluagor (who becomes Eilonwy/Gurgi's steed.)
- Dreaming of Things to Come
- The Empath
- Guest-Star Party Member
- The Medic
- Team Mom
- Walking the Earth: As a bard, he does a lot of this.
- Warrior Poet
- Wise Beyond Their Years
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/Redemption Equals Death
- 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.
- Glory Hound
- Guest-Star Party Member
- Impoverished Patrician: And not happy about it.
- Heroic Sacrifice
- 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
- The Rival
- Rival Turned Evil: Although he does have his limits.
- Sacrificial Lion
- Small Name, Big Ego
- 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.
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.
- Face–Heel Turn
- Fallen Hero: Gwydion mentions that he was once a great ally to them, and that he will honor Morgant for the man he once was.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He's banking on the Black Cauldron enabling this.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: He tries to impress this upon Taran in the midst of his Evil Gloating.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome
- We Can Rule Together: He tried to pull Taran over to his side with promises of power.
- Walking Spoiler: He is one of villains of the The Black Cauldron.
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: More like a Wolf in Wolves' Clothing. It's immediately clear there's something wrong with Morgant when he arrives at the war council, but it goes unremarked upon until he confirms his Face–Heel Turn.
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.
- Book Dumb
- 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.
- Guest-Star Party Member
- 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
- 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.
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.
- Adipose Rex: Of the Robert Baratheon variety.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Badass Beard
- 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.
- Big Eater
- Big Fun
- Boisterous Bruiser
- A Father to His Men
- Fiery Redhead
- Promotion to Parent: He tries to take the A Father to His Men thing literally and offers to adopt Taran. Taran is flattered, but turns him down.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Shoplift and Die: He uses this as a threat to two of his lords quarreling over errant sheep, possibly intentionally to teach Taran the art of moderation and negotiation.
- Stout Strength
- Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Taran initially compares him unfavorably to Morgant due to his appearance. Morgant is handsome and well-spoken, but morally bankrupt, while Smoit is fat, unkempt, and loudmouthed, but incorruptible.
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.
- Air Vent Escape: Manages to pull this off in a castle.
- Author Avatar: Lloyd Alexander has admitted that he based Gwystyl on himself, unintentionally.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: A very rare case of the character being both the complainer and the rescuer.
- The Eeyore
- Heroic Willpower: How he manages to hold a waystation on the very borders of Annuvin.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Known to fake illnesses to further peoples' misconceptions of him.
- Iron Butt Monkey
- 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
- Really 700 Years Old
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.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
- Boxed Crook
- Brought Down to Normal
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Played with; from time to time his complains are grounded in common sense.
- Cursed with Awesome
- 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 a giant, Glew was miserable and could only think of being small again. As a dwarf, he only wanted to be tall. Admittedly, his morose giant persona is very different from his prickly dwarf one.
- Grumpy Old Man: As a dwarf.
- 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.
- Big Brother Instinct: He brings this out in Taran.
- The Cavalry: Shows up as part of this in The High King.
- Guest-Star Party Member
- The Magnificent Seven Samurai: His father talks Taran into becoming a one-man Seven Samurai for his village.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: He leads the Commotmen to Caer Dathyl in order to repay their collective debt to Taran.
- He's All Grown Up: Not that much time passes between Taran Wanderer and The High King, but one of the first things Taran notices about him when they reunite is how he's almost as tall as Taran is now.
- Tag Along Kid: Taran was once one to Gwydian; now Llassar is one to Taran.
- Took a Level in Badass
- Training the Peaceful Villagers
- Unexpected Character: He's about the last person you'd figure would show up to help the heroes Walk into Mordor.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: He's surprisingly understanding of Taran's Gene Hunting situation in Taran Wanderer.
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.
- Broken Pedestal
- Cavalry Betrayal: Pulls this off masterfully at the Battle of Caer Dathyl.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: He fires the Chekhov's Gun cocked by Dallben all the way back at the start of The Book of Three by touching the eponymous book. It doesn't end well for him.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He's the last of a long line of villains seeking to topple Arawn and become the Big Bad of Prydain himself.
- Knight Templar: Known for wearing his sword unsheathed in wartime and proclaiming that it will not return to its scabbard until he has claimed victory.
- Light Is Good: Initially held up as a shining example of heroism. Until he actually shows up and helps Arawn curb stomp everyone.
- Nietzsche Wannabe
- Self-Disposing Villain
- The Starscream: He takes over this role from Achren almost immediately.
- Too Dumb to Live
- Trojan Horse
- Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: The companions are a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits, while Pryderi ranks up there with Jaime Lannister in terms of handsome villains.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dallben implies he might actually be trying to save Prydain in his own way, but his methods are simply too evil for The Powers That Be to let him go through with it.
The king of the Fair Folk.
- Fantastic Racism: Not the biggest human fan.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Goes from taking companions prisoner to having Doli lead his troops to aid Taran.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Averted even more than with Doli.
"Orwen, Orddu, and Orgoch"
A trio of witches in the Marshes of Morva who tend to finish each others sentences. They take turns acting as each other and arementioned as having raised Dallben, who 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 Ladies: 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.
- Genre Savvy: They didn't really expect Arawn Death-Lord to keep his side of a bargain. Also the reason they no longer extend credit.
- God in Human Form: It's heavily implied the three witches are more than they seem.
- 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
- 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
- Nice Hat: Wears a jewel-encrusted headband.
- Not So Different: From Taran as it turns out. Especially notable when Taran befriends the baby gwythaint.
- Wizard Beard
A shepherd who Taran meets on his way to the Free Commots. He claims to be Taran's father, leaving Taran discouraged because hethought that he was of noble birth.
- Handicapped Badass: He leans on a staff, but is still pretty tough.
- Luke,I Am Your Father: To Taran. He's actually not.
A legendary potter in the Free Commots. He gives Taran some lessons.
- Meaningful Name: His full name is Annlaw Clay-Shaper.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard
- Old Master: To Taran for a while.
"High King Math"
The supreme regent of Prydain and one of the two Big Goods. Presumably the father of Gwydion.
- All-Loving Hero
- Badass Grandpa: Stand up to the Cauldron-Born.
- Badass Pacifist: Stands up to the Cauldron-Born right after expressing his sorrow at all the bloodshed.
- Big Good: Shares this with Dallben.
- The Good King: His defining character trait.
- Papa Wolf: To Prydain as a whole.
- Really 700 Years Old: Mentioned as looking older than Dallben, who's in his 300s. However, we don't know how much of that is due to Dallben's aging.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- 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 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.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Averted. Arawn is more of a trickster than a fighter.
- Big Bad: Of The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, and The High King.
- The Chessmaster
- 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.
- Evil Overlord
- Evil Sorcerer
- Greater-Scope Villain: Of The Castle of Llyr and Taran Wanderer.
- Load-Bearing Boss
- Manipulative Bastard
- Master of Illusion
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast
- 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.
- Squishy Wizard
- The Starscream: In the past, Achren was the ruler of Annuvin. Arawn became her consort, then betrayed and deposed her. She is not happy about this.
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 Baroness: Definite shades of this.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: When they first meet, Taran assumes Achren must be an ally as she is beautiful and kind. Gwydion warns him that this is a ruse.
- Big Bad: Of The Castle of Llyr.
- Brought Down to Normal: She loses her power in the third book.
- Chewing the Scenery: She is prone to being…overdramatic.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: She slowly goes through this following her Villainous Breakdown. Maybe.
- Enemy Mine: She assists the companions in bringing down Arawn in the last book.
- Faux Affably Evil: Her cordial demeanor only serves to make her more intimidating.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: It is often implied she was even worse than Arawn.
- Heel–Face Turn: Possibly; in the fifth book, it's unclear to what extent she's reformed, but she is nonetheless a valuable ally to the companions during their Enemy Mine.
- Ninja Maid: She becomes Dallben's maid, for all intents and purposes, after The Castle of Llyr, but The High King shows that though she's lost her magic, she's lost none of her cunning or physical prowess.
- Older Than They Look: She looks like a beautiful young woman but…
- Really 700 Years Old: It is never stated exactly how old she is, but she’s clearly been around a long time.
- Save the Villain: Gwydion saves her from the Castle of Llyr. She is furious about this at first, but after some convincing, she accepts her defeat and takes refuge at Caer Dallben.
- The Starscream: Plans to betray Arawn as he betrayed her. Eventually, she gets even, though ironically it's after she did a Heel–Face Turn anyway.
- Vain Sorceress
- The Vamp: She tries to use her feminine wiles on Gwydion more than once. It doesn’t work. She also uses them on Taran, who is about to fall for it when Gwydion warns him.
- Villainous Breakdown: After losing her power at the Castle of Llyr. This sets the stage for her Heel–Face Turn.
- Woman Scorned: Her desire to get revenge on Arawn goes way past obsession…
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.
- The Heavy: Arawn's Orcus on His Throne style leads naturally to the Horned King, his general, being the main adversary in Book 1.
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.
- The Dragon: To Achren and later Arawn.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
- Evil Chancellor
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Just like the rest of the Big Bad Ensemble, Magg is obsessed with trying to pull this off and unseat Arawn. And just like everyone else, it blows up in his face ... literally.
- Hero Killer: He manages to capture King Smoit's castle and his men kill Rhun in The High King, despite the latter's Taking a Level in Badass.
- In-Series Nickname: Fflewddur insists on calling him "the Spider".
- Karmic Death: He's obsessed with claiming a crown of his own, eventually sighting in on claiming Arawn's crown, but when he places the Death Lord's crown upon his head, its power burns him to ashes.
- The Mole
- Obviously Evil
- Sharp-Dressed Man: For a time, this is his defining trope.
- Treacherous Advisor
- 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.
- Amulet of Dependency: The source of his power.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Morality just doesn't compute for him.
- Baleful Polymorph: He ends up turning Fflewddur and Gurgi into these.
- Big Bad Ensemble: In Taran Wanderer with Dorath.
- Evil Gloating: His need to explain his backstory to Taran proves to be his undoing.
- Evil Old Folks: Like every other villain, plans to become the next evil overlord, despite his age.
- Evil Sorcerer: Naturally, as an Expy of a classic fairy tale example.
- Expy: Of Koschei the Deathless, though his Soul Jar has fewer layers of defence.
- No Man of Woman Born: He goes out of his way to let Taran know he's invulnerable to weapons and magic, so Taran shatters his Soul Jar instead.
- Soul Jar: His detached finger bone.
- Transformation Ray: His amulet.
- You Killed My Father: While he didn't explicitly kill Eilonwy's mother, he did sit back and let her die, then looted her corpse for the hell of it, which is where he found the amulet.
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.
- Attempted Rape: Threatened, extremely euphemistically, but never conducted. It's a kids' book, remember.
- Big Bad Ensemble: In Taran Wanderer with Morda.
- Broken Aesop: He pursues Taran right up to the Mirror Of Llunet, but the significance of the reflecting pool is lost on him when Taran lets him look into it.
- Chekhov M.I.A.: Gets away clean in Taran Wanderer only to come back and meet his end in The High King.
- Egomaniac Hunter
- 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.
- Only in It for the Money
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Dorath's MO.
- The Sociopath
- Terms of Endangerment: He calls Taran "Lord Swineherd" and Eilonwy "Princess Vixen".