The Black Cauldron is the second title in the Chronicles of Prydain, a series Lloyd Alexander started in 1964, and one which I've read a great many times - though I've actually read The Black Cauldron more than any other book in the set.
For my money, it's the darkest and the most powerful - the story where the character's face more of their own demons and where the wonder is strongest, where the story is tightest, most self-contained. In it, Taran and his companions must destroy the zombie-creating Black Cauldron and the odds are stacked quite high against them.
Now, Taran is a classic boy-hero but far and above my favourite character in the story is the prideful but surprising Ellidyr, and right on his heels are Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch - the three witches who steal the show.
Alexander mentions how the books were influenced by Welsh mythology, which is clear from the first read, from names to setting and myths, all of which he weaves together so well. I devoured The Black Cauldron over and over as a kid (since 1991 I think it was when I was given a copy by Mum for a birthday) and have read it about once a year ever since.
If you've never read these books and enjoy 'children's literature' check this out. It's a classic and well deserving of its longevity.
Free ebook with every newsletter sign up in 2016
Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
Imperial Towers (Never Book 5) - draft 1
Moss Dragon - draft 1
Reed Lavender (working title) - draft 1
Unnamed Spec Fic - draft 1
Whisper of Leaves (sequel) - Outline