Prince Gwydion announces it is time to make an attack against Arawn and his indestructible Cauldron-Born army by destroying the Black Cauldron from which they are made. Taran, Fflewddur, Doli, and a number of other friends of the prince join him in his quest, but it quickly proves to be more dangerous than expected and the friends are separated. It is up to Taran to decide how his group should proceed – go after the Black Cauldron, or go back to Caer Dallben and regroup with the others.
The second installment of The Chronicles of Prydain stands on its own right from the off. There is hardly any recap of the events from The Book of Three, but rather a reunion of old characters coupled with introductions of new characters and their goal – to destroy the Black Cauldron Arawn has been using to create an undead army.
While none of the characters have changed much between books, Lloyd Alexander still manages to give us new information about them and their backstories to help us understand them more. One such character is Taran’s guardian, Dallben. There is a lovely segment in which Taran finds out some information about Dallben’s childhood that comes as a bit of a shock to him. Also included is more information about the Black Cauldron and how Arawn came to possess it, which is a nice way of showing more of the Lord of Annuvin without actually bringing his character front and center. Having him remain in shadow is a nice way to build up to when the reader finally meets him (whenever that will actually be).
You can read the rest of my review at my blog: http://readerlymusings.com/2014/03/11/review-the-black-cauldron-by-lloyd-alexander/