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The High King

(The Chronicles of Prydain #5)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  50,315 ratings  ·  1,212 reviews
When the sword of Dyrnwyn, the most powerful weapon inthe kingdom of Prydain, falls into the hands of Arawn-Death-Lord, Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, and Prince Gwydion raise an army to march against Arawn's terrible cohorts. After a winter expedition filled with danger, Taran's army arrives at Mount Dragon, Arawn's stronghold. There, in a thrilling confrontation with Arawn ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published May 16th 2006 by Square Fish (first published October 27th 1968)
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Devyn Duffy The High King probably works well enough if read on its own, but you'd lose so much of its emotional power. So many events in the story have resonance…moreThe High King probably works well enough if read on its own, but you'd lose so much of its emotional power. So many events in the story have resonance because of the experiences readers have shared in the first four books. I would strongly recommend reading the entire series in sequence, especially because they are great books.(less)
Pat Love this series. Since it's for children, it's an easy read and just fun. You'll enjoy it. I'm not a real fantasy lover either, but the setting and c…moreLove this series. Since it's for children, it's an easy read and just fun. You'll enjoy it. I'm not a real fantasy lover either, but the setting and characters are wonderful.(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
The High King (The Chronicles of Prydain #5), Lloyd Alexander

The High King (1968) is a high fantasy novel by Lloyd Alexander, the fifth and last of The Chronicles of Prydain. It was awarded the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1969.

The series follows the adventures of Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, as he nears manhood while helping to resist the forces of Arawn Death-Lord. In the concluding volume Taran and companions join the rest of Prydain in a great effort
...more
Spencer Orey
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lot of childhood classics don't hold up these days, but it was a real treat to read this series again. I enjoyed it more as an adult than I ever did as a kid. Ah I wish I liked this final book as much as I loved Taran Wanderer, but the grim focus on war and preparing for battle was just not for me.

Still it was nice to see all the pieces come together from throughout the series. There was room for everyone to have an important part to play.

I'll miss the companions, but I have a feeling I'll be
...more
Jessica
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
There are times in life where everything seems to go right, and then there are the times where everything seems to go wrong. The High King is both of these. There were times I wanted to throw the book down and times I couldn't even bear to close it at night. The book, while a fairy tale, is life.

Nothing in life is free and all things come with a price, even the price of gifts that we wish we could keep. And the gift that requires the greatest price is that of love. People change, move, and die.
...more
Paul Christensen
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
The High King

A page-turning thriller
With a deeply moving ending,
That draws the threads of the first four books
And strengthens them in the blending.

Juho Pohjalainen
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So ends the saga! The evil is destroyed, the rightful king draws the sword, and at the end the elves leave into Undying La- uh, Summer Country. Also, a lot of friends die. It's all very tense and thrilling while it still happens, sad and bittersweet once it's all done with, and on the whole a pretty much perfect finisher for a great series.

I couldn't believe Taran at the end is the same moronic little child we started with, if I had not read through these books one by one to see his growth first
...more
jillian n.
4.5 stars

...more
Joe
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In my quest to read all Newbery Medal winning books (only 6 to go!!), I was dreading the Chronicles of Prydain. After all, the book in the series that won the Newbery was the very last book in said series, and there's nothing I tire of more quickly than high fantasy.

And boy, are the Chronicles of Prydain high fantasy.

So. Much. Questing.

So. Much. To-ing and Fro-ing.

So. Many. Episodic. Chapters.

I was assured that I didn't have to read all of the other books in the Chronicles to understand the
...more
Natalie
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Let me begin by saying that I very seldom give 5s. To me, a book that gets a 5 is a book that changed my life and a book I have to reread over and over again. This book is a true 5 for me. I can't even count how many times I have read it and I have loved it each and every time I have read it.

I just love the way Lloyd Alexander writes. He doesn't get bogged down in flowery language and instead uses a minimum of words to somehow convey a perfect description.

I love the character development of Ta
...more
Nico
May 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, it-sucked
This one felt more rushed than the others. some of the big reveals were really disappointing. like other books in the series, more time is spent on their daily trivialities than the big picture. the death of the main antagonist of the entire series was addressed in a fight lasting no more than a page. it felt anticlimactic. arawn was killed too easily. lesser villains were given better fights and deaths. I hated glew, better characters than him died whilst we had to endure his whining for an ent ...more
Nate Philbrick
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No matter how many times I read this book, the final chapter always rips me in half. And what a time to go through that again.
Sotiris Karaiskos
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The fifth and final part of this splendid series and as is customary in this all accounts are closed by an epic battle in many stages. Its description is more than staggering, as the author is creating breathtaking combat scenes, who also are making us more emotionally involved with our beloved heroes, who overcome their limits due to the sense of duty and the love they have for each other. In the end all this adventure leads us to a dramatic climax followed by one of the most moving finale I ha ...more
Ashley
Because I listen to my audiobooks in the car, I went for a drive Saturday evening just to finish this book. Time and gas well spent. Really enjoyed making my way through this series over the last month and a half. Some of the best children's fantasy I've read. Wish I would've read it as an actual child.

Aside from a couple of minor complaints, The High King was a really good ending to this series.

Arawn and his minions have stolen the magical sword Dyrnwyn from Prince Gwydion, tipping the balance
...more
James
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great ending to a great series! I think my final ranking is:
1. Taran Wanderer
2. The High King
3. The Black Cauldron
4. The Book of Three
5. The Castle of Ilyr

Lloyd Alexander succeeded in pulling all of the various threads together across the entire series, weaving characters back in who seemed long forgotten, and answering questions that I had even forgotten were posed earlier in the series. The whole series is worth reading, even as an adult, although now I'm excited to share them with my daughte
...more
Andy
Single review for the Chronicles of Prydain, as they are similar in style and quality and could have been produced as a single large volume of five sub-books.

The Chronicles of Prydain are children's books. Some children's books hold up well when read by an adult, but these are definitely for kids and do not carry any added depth. The adventures are amusing but flat. You might smile at Eilonwy's sass and moxie and Fflewdur Fflam's tall tales. But you're probably also going to cringe at Taran's e
...more
Camille
Jun 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
This is to date one of the best children's novels I've read in one of the best children's series out there. Alexander draws on a wealth of Welsh mythology to put together a rags to riches story of a pig-keeper, his growth from child to youth to man, and the decisions we are all forced to make in adulthood. There were many different types of closure in the final book -- the first time I read it I cried, which is really rare for me. I found the portrayals of key characters moving as well as the st ...more
Samantha
Okay, I am going to do a review for the entire series here, because it’s the last book in the series. I own these books, and they were some of my favorites growing up so I thought it was time for a reread. Did they stand up to my nostalgia, as some other books (notably Sabriel by Garth Nix and the His Dark Materials trilogy) have? The answer is partially, but not entirely. Here’s why:

The characterization of Eilonwy bothered me a bit. In the first few books she is quite independent and free-minde
...more
Ghost Ryter
Can...can I give this 100 stars?
Metaphorosis
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-rev, reviewed
3.5 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

Arawn Death-Lord has Gwydion's magic sword, and he has sent out his dread armies to conquer Prydain. With only the slimmest of hopes, Taran and Gwydion must raise an army and strike at Arawn's stronghold to try to end his evil once and for all.

The High King is not the strongest of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain quintet. He's building here on an established foundation, and much of the outcome in a YA adventure is foreordained. Still, for all that there's little suspense
...more
Jim
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a 3.5 star, but it does wrap up everything in a pretty predictable manner. Still, it was fun with a few characters dying that I mourned for. Some others didn't that might have made it more interesting, though. Still, it was a good ending to an excellent YA series. I'm happy to have read it again as an adult. Highly recommended.

If you can find it as an audio book narrated by James Langton, you'll be even happier. He did a great job. Very memorable voices that were the same throughout the
...more
Aj the Ravenous Reader
A great finale to the series. It was a hundred percent worth reading. :)
Kris
Quite an action-packed ending to the series. It always takes me a while to get into each of these books, but by the end I'm not usually disappointed. This one was probably one of my favorite of the five.

So many, many parallels with Lord of the Rings. Seeing so many similar details got distracting toward the end. But somehow, on another level, this universe still contains its own unique story.

Some thoughts on the characters with spoilers -- It was great to see Taran absorb so much from his surrou
...more
Sam Wescott
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Holy character development, batman. I actually liked Taran in this book. The adventures had higher stakes and the characters seemed rounder than usual, with depths not previously seen.

I got weepy at several points in the book (view spoiler), which makes me respect the character development even more. Well done, Lloyd Alexander. I ha
...more
Kerri
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a fun and amazing series! Really good messages of strength, character, good and evil, kindness, life and death, all the things. Great characters who have really grown on me and who grew quite a lot over the series. I am really glad I finally got prodded into reading this series, otherwise I probably would always have passed it by.
Courtney H.
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was my favorite of the five novels, though obviously one reason it was brilliant was because it could rest on, and grow out of, the foundational first four books. Still, I thought this book, better than the others, balanced the fun of YA writing (clear, solid writing, interesting characters, well paced plot) with more challenging plot points and characters.

This books is about war, though, and Alexander does not pull punches: many characters die, characters you did not think he would kill of
...more
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
I never read this as a child, and now that I have just finished it, I'm not crying, you're crying, shut up.

The Prydain Chronicles deserves its place in history as a classic children's fantasy series, although I wonder just how well-known it truly is. It is certainly not at Narnia-level recognition, and I was not really aware of it until I started perusing the children' fantasy section at the library starting at 'A' and reading about the history of fantasy publishing, but that may have been sole
...more
Gwyn May
So, I've finished the Chronicles of Prydain, after a year and a half of reading them off and on, and am still as unsure what I think of them as when I read the first of five. The only way I can sort this out is if I do this review in bulletin form :P

Things I Love or Like about this Book

1. Eilonwy. Same as all others in this series. My goodness, the Princess of Lyr is one of my favourite literary maidens of noble birth out there. I love Eilonwy not caring about her dirty hair and loving to have i
...more
Lara Mi


“For the deeds of a man, not the words of a prophecy, are what shape his destiny.”

Returning home from his wanderings, Taran finds that he cannot continue his former peaceful life; The Death Lord Arawn has finally made a move to conquer all of Prydain. Taran is summoned to be a war leader alongside his friend, Prince Gwydion of Don.

The Chronicles of Prydain kept getting better with each volume - that is until I read this final instalment. I did like it, but not as much as the middle instalment
...more
Aelvana
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Taran is done wandering, but he returns to news of a horrible loss: Arawn has stolen Gwydion's sword Dyrnwyn. Confident he has removed the only real threat to his rule, the death lord is preparing for invasion. But Taran and his friends are not going to surrender without a fight. From the island of Mona to the Free Commots, all friends of good gather for the last great battle for the fate of Prydain.

The war wages fiercely in this book as Gwydion's ever-dwindling army opposes traitors, Huntsman,
...more
Michael Sorbello
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The final battle against Arawn and his forces of evil has come. A climactic battle is fought and Taran's identity as heir to the throne is finally revealed. At the end of it all, Taran is faced with a heartbreaking decision that will change his life and the entire world as he knows it.

What a fantastic conclusion. I started off somewhat unimpressed after reading The Book of Three, but each book ended up being much better than the previous one. And just as I was hoping, the final book was the best
...more
Melaniemouse
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it
A good ending to the series, if, again, it did lean heavily on LOTR (like, bordering on plagiarism at times, in my opinion). I still feel like I don't quite have a handle on how old the characters are, and how much time has passed over the course of the series. I guess my best guess is that when they started, Taran and Eilonwy were like 13 and 12, and at the end they're like 18 and 17? He keeps referencing things that happened in the earlier books as event from his "boyhood," cause apparently he ...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 book ...more

Other books in the series

The Chronicles of Prydain (5 books)
  • The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain, #1)
  • The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain, #2)
  • The Castle of Llyr (The Chronicles of Prydain, #3)
  • Taran Wanderer (The Chronicles of Prydain, #4)

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