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The Black Cauldron

(The Chronicles of Prydain #2)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  56,056 ratings  ·  1,456 reviews
Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, and his friends are led into a mortal struggle with Arwn and his deathless warriors. Taran must wrest the black cauldron from them, for it is the cauldron that gives them their evil strength. But can he withstand the three enchantresses, who are determined to turn him and his companions into toads? Taran has not foreseen the awful price he ...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published March 1969 by Dell Yearling (first published 1965)
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Sherry Sharpnack I think he's OK starting w/ this one. He'd get more background on Taran's friends by starting w/ Book #1, but he could always go back to that one if…moreI think he's OK starting w/ this one. He'd get more background on Taran's friends by starting w/ Book #1, but he could always go back to that one if he wants.(less)
Melissa The Disney movie takes elements from both this book and the first in the series, "The Book of Three", though this is the book it takes it's name from.…moreThe Disney movie takes elements from both this book and the first in the series, "The Book of Three", though this is the book it takes it's name from. If you're looking to read the book the movie is based on, you're best starting off with The Book of Three.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  56,056 ratings  ·  1,456 reviews

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Paul Christensen
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Black Cauldron

Much better than ‘The Book of Three’;
Deepening the mystery
With shades of lore and history
And urgent electricity
(And sometimes added duplicity
When characters dabble in trickery),
As three Crones with their witchery
Complete the synchronicity.

Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Heavier than the first novel (The Book of Three) with a lot more on the ball teaching wise and lesson wise. This includes lessons on everything up to self sacrifice.
Rebecca McNutt
I loved this book. It's definitely the kind of fantasy novel that anybody can enjoy, simple without being dry or boring, sentimental without being saccharine, and it has lots of likeable characters. It does differ from its Disney film adaptation counterpart, and it's actually not the first in its series (although arguably it's the most well-known book of that series), and that makes it really fun to read, because so much of it is unexpected. It's not a particularly deep work of fiction, but its ...more
This book is the one that gave the Disney film from the 80s its name--you know, the one nobody saw that was a complete box office disaster--right before The Little Mermaid came out and ushered in Disney's Golden Age. I saw the film once and wasn't impressed with it. It bears almost no resemblance, aside from its characters sharing the same names and a few select characteristics, to the books.

As stated in my review for The Book of Three, I was not very impressed with this series to start off with,
Bryce Wilson
Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
Old Shit I'm Revisiting: The Prequel: Part 2

Aw this is more like it. As I said I was a bit disappointed reading The Book Of Three this is more like The Prydain I remember. There are still flaws, writing at times can be a bit flat, and the exposition a bit heavy. But the moral universe of the characters has grown nicely adding shades of grey to what was starkly black and white before, there's room for some apt and surprisingly lovely metaphor (The broach that causes everything to look
Meg Cabot
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 4th grade all I wanted to be was Princess Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron.
Maggie Stiefvater
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: susan cooper fans, diana wynne jones fans
On of my all time favorites as a kid. Recommended for those who like Diana Wynne Jones and Susan Cooper.

***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite books -- not every book I read. Consider a novel's presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement. I can't believe I just said "hearty." It sounds like a stew.****
Mar 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: decent people
The first book in the Prydain series didn't exactly impress me. I was afraid the whole lot of them would be stories where this motley crew of adventurers makes one mistake after another because they're silly and self-righteous but somehow manages to magically win in the end.

The Black Cauldron changed my mind. While the characters didn't get too much smarter, they matured quite a bit. Their bumbling isn't quite as tiresome, and they seem to learn a lot quicker and think less about themselves. So t/>The
Book 2 of the Chronicles of Prydain series, which I sort of worshipped as a kid. I really wish that my copy of the book features the cover pictured with this review, as it seems to ignore Taran completely and just features Eilonwy doing something badass, which is pretty cool.

Also, I will repeat a warning I made in my review of The Book of Three: The Walt Disney Corporation, in a well-intended but disasterous move, decided to make an animated movie called The Black Cauldron several years ago. The plot
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Still one of the best childhood reads. Damn I liked hardcore books as a kid.

Aspiration, pride, loyalty, self-knowledge and sacrifice - this takes on growing pains with a vengeance as Taran continues to try to Do Good in the face of a bewildering line-up of the evil, the self-interested ...and powers he may never understand.

Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I loved this book as a child, and now that I’ve read it again as an adult, I found a great degree of humor I may not have caught as a child. The storytelling is excellent and has aged well.
Sotiris Karaiskos
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
In the second part of this series, the heroes we met in the first are back in action, taking on with the help of a few more warriors a very difficult mission, particularly crucial for the outcome of the fight against evil. As part of this mission, they are confronting great dangers but also themselves and are connected even more through all these difficulties. In the end, however, they find that evil can have many more forms, as well as good, which makes things much more complicated.

This is the second of 5 books & I liked it better than the first. It was more focused in large part because the characters & world needed no introduction. Most were well known from the first. Fun characters, although there's a continuous moral behind each that's obvious. It's great for kids, a little much to take as an adult at times. Still, I enjoyed the simple story immensely & am looking forward to the next. Well narrated, too.
May 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans, especially kids and young adults
Recommended to X by: Q
Yet another fast moving, easy reading book. I wish I had read it sooner, as I was confused in the beginning trying to remember who all the characters were. However, after the first chapter or two it was quite good. A few parts were disturbingly LOTR reminiscent, but not enough to make it a cheap rip-off. Most of the characters were good and the mythological influences were nice. I'll think I won't wait so long to read the rest of the series.
Bill Tillman
Oh yes, after a long time away I am back again reading and listening (Audible) to Black Cauldron.

So finished again, must admit that I've forgotten parts of it, but all the better to enjoy again.

Just finished The Black Calderon wonderful balance of themes. Faith, friendship, courage, self worth and the balance of good and evil. Above all I think the lessons of discernment are done will.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-read as audiobook.
Juho Pohjalainen
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this a little better than the first in the series, I think. The somewhat bland and bog-standard beginning of the Book of Three no longer applies at all: the story has been untethered and allowed to be its own thing, and continues along its own way in this story. It has the same characters I like from the first, along with a passive-aggressive fairy and a particularly mean-spirited ponce. Pretty much every hero is thrown through the wringer, they all learn and grow as they learned and gre ...more
My parents bought me the Prydain book series as a bundle, at my insistence, from the Scholastic Book Fair. I was in eighth grade and riding high after a long-awaited family trip to Disneyland. I was also fairly convinced that I wanted to become an animator and had read about Disney's The Black Cauldron (1985) in Bob Thomas's Art of Animation. Since the movie wasn't available on VHS, I figured reading the books upon which it was based was an acceptable alternative. Of course, I did not expect then to fall in love with Ta ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read all five of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain in my early teens, and frankly, it's hard for me to remember much about them beyond general emotional impressions: the first two were adventurous, the third a bit odd, the fourth dry and philosophical, and the fifth - well, it all went to hell in the fifth book. The announcement of these new yearly 50th Anniversary editions, therefore, are a great excuse not just to revisit the series but to separate them out and consider them somewhat mo ...more
Lara Mi

“For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are.”

Taran’s home of Caer Dallben serves as a venue for a great council - Prince Gwydion intends on invading the evil kingdom of Annuvin to seize and destroy their source of power; the black cauldron which spawns deathly warriors. Taran feels honoured to march alongside Gwydion but soon finds himself separated from the company. Luckily, his former companions, the Princess Eilonwy and Gurgi, have followed him in secrecy and are now
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me: Okay boys, today we're starting chapter three of the Black Cauldron and-

I love it when I find things that my reluctant readers get hooked on, and this exchange happened during the second class I've ever had with this kid. I'm all like:

Stand back, Mrs. Student'smom, let me work.

So anyway, I read this book when I was a kid and I
Benjamin Thomas
While I enjoyed the first book in this series, I think part of my enjoyment was due to finally diving into such a classic series that had eluded me for so many years. I did enjoy that first book, The Book of Three, but it did seem to meander a little too much for my taste. This time around, I felt the plot was much tighter and focused on just a handful of characters, allowing me to get to know them much better.

I also liked how Taran, the main character, grew through the novel. He is still
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, sf-fantasy
One of the best books in this series, as our heroes join the mission to steal the magic cauldron the the Dark King uses to create his zombie soldiers.
They find the Cauldron, get separated from the main army and have to deal with witches, a treacherous swamp and the forces of evil.
Great fantasy adventure novel, full of strong characters and a clever sense of humor.

Aj the Ravenous Reader
This was an enjoyable read. I love the adventures and the pureness of the characters.
Phillip Murrell
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing! I loved the movie, but as so often is the case, the book was far superior. I was surprised the Horned King didn't return. I associate him with the title, but he was really the villain from the first book. There were some differences, but they proved to be pleasant surprises. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and seeing how the more grown Taran and Eilowny deal with the threats of Arawn.
Second one down. These are really quick reads, but rewarding all the same. The Black Cauldron definitely kicks the series up a notch, with darker themes, beautiful prose but with the same quirky humor. I was completely expecting it to end the way the Disney movie did and was caught off guard. I think I like this ending better. Going to keep going with book 3!
Michael Sorbello
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than the first book in every way. Darker subject matter, nastier villains, stronger plot and character development and so on. The pacing is much more smooth while still maintaining its fast, action-packed style.

The stakes felt higher, the scope of the world felt bigger and the humor felt more natural. Taran and his crew grew on me in this book, I see a lot of potential in the misfit leader and his comrades. I think he’ll grow into a fine hero.
Moira Fogarty
Oh, James Langton, you silver-tongued devil. Your audiobook recordings are so unbelievably good, so lively and full of unique characters, I could listen to you read for days (and I have).

'The Black Cauldron' is the second book in the Prydain chronicles - a classic quest, full of Princes and crones, evil undead and courageous warriors. We begin in Caer Dallben, where Taran works as Assistant Pig-Keeper, dreaming of greatness and glory.

If you are lucky enough to have the audio version of this book, you will del
Mr. Graham
Great book. This is a fantasy with a human element in the hero that is rare. Taran, a lowly "Assistant Pig-Keeper," is humble, though often hot-headed. To this hero honor matters, but integrity rules. His decisions are always selfless and courageous, though often youthfully unwise. His companions and superiors are often the more wise and honorable, yet Taran's leadership takes them where they must go. The self sacrifice and humility he shows makes him a great hero for young people, most of whom ...more
Courtney H.
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked The Black Cauldron better than I liked The Book of Three. The characters we knew grew a bit, but not so much that they were unrecognizable. As irritating as Taran can be, too much change wouldn't quite be believable. The Black Cauldron also introduced a number of new characters, as quirky as the last batch. I particularly liked Orddu, Orwen and Orgoch -- they might be my favorite characters of the series (I'm writing this review after having finished the Chronicles). They were multi-face ...more
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Lloyd Chudley Alexander was an influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents, as well as several adult books. His most famous contribution to the field of children's literature is the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. The concluding book of the series, The High King , was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1969. Alexander's other books have also won the Nat ...more

Other books in the series

The Chronicles of Prydain (5 books)
  • The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain, #1)
  • The Castle of Llyr (The Chronicles of Prydain, #3)
  • Taran Wanderer (The Chronicles of Prydain, #4)
  • The High King (The Chronicles of Prydain, #5)
“Child, child, do you not see? For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are.” 2207 likes
“Indeed, the more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts.” 121 likes
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