chapter Nine: page ten

posted 2nd Feb 2017, 1:14 PM

chapter Nine: page ten
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view Saeriellyn's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 1:14 PM

Saeriellyn

Just keeps popping up like sore thumb. Or that annoying kid from the dorm that doesn't know how to act at parties.

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user comments

2nd Feb 2017, 1:28 PM

Lori

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view Nef's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 5:02 PM

Nef

If someone were to teach that shining orb to simply hover over the user on command, it would make things so much more practical... Maybe a business idea for and entrepreneurial do-it-yourself enchanter?

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view Saeriellyn's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 6:28 PM

Saeriellyn

In the animated adaptation Disney made it float. That always annoyed me but I can see why it was more convenient.

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view Nef's profile

8th Feb 2017, 9:14 PM

Nef

Wow! I didn't know they did that. Seems like I'm ready for a job at Disney. ;)

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view The Doodler's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 6:30 PM

The Doodler

That lighting! It really makes it look like pitch dark while still letting you see things.

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view Saeriellyn's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 10:10 PM

Saeriellyn

Always a challenge to portray darkness yet ensure visibility! Let's pretend the moon is really really bright.;)

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2nd Feb 2017, 7:39 PM

RHYMESOFTHERENEGADES

crack "HARK! Danger approaches!"

Also, very good job on the lighting contrast, but Taran looks like he has different colored eyes in panel six.

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view Saeriellyn's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 10:12 PM

Saeriellyn

I noticed that on my phone; it was much darker on my monitor at home...bleh, such are the challenges of digital!

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view Odd May's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 9:26 PM

Odd May

Yaaay! Gurgi, you've come back! Also, look at those two with their protective stance around Eilonwy in panel 6! Too adorable.

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view Saeriellyn's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 10:14 PM

Saeriellyn

You noticed that! :) I would expect no less of Fflewddur but Taran surprised me here. A subtle reminder of the noble heart under all his foolishness.

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view joeyballast's profile

2nd Feb 2017, 10:58 PM

joeyballast

JUST when Taran thought this day couldn't get any worse. I get the feeling that the other two are going to enjoy Gurgi's company.

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view Saeriellyn's profile

3rd Feb 2017, 1:19 AM

Saeriellyn

Fair guess. Taran is the only one with any real reason to dislike him, besides his just being mildly annoying.

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6th Feb 2017, 7:29 AM

CM

Wow. I've been rereading these half-remembered treasures from my childhood, and came upon your comic completely by accident.

Your work is amazing. Keep it up!) I'm frankly amazed that this comic even exists, since so few people seem to know about these books.) I'm eager for another update, but glad that it's not all up yet (otherwise, I would be binging).

Reading the comments, though, I have to say I think people are being unnecessarily hard on Taran. Having already reread the first three books, I actually think his growth and maturity is rather stunning. Granted, on my read, this is basically the point where he completely realizes this is adult swim, but from here out, he handles most things with remarkable determination, courage, and maturity, for his age.

Which, again, is--what?--thirteen? Fourteen? The poor kid's lost, away from home for the first time. He's nearly been killed several times over, suffered two sword wounds, almost drowned, almost been strangled, been knocked unconscious, and knows that the lives of a whole heck of a lot of people depend on him.

Which, let's not forget, is part of the reason he's so impatient with her in the first place. Dude is legitimately bound up in a quest to save a lot of lives--and is in way over his head. He can be forgiven for not keeping it together flawlessly. Also, in the books, it's clear Achren uses some sort of magical power on him to begin to get him to talk--he's got some reason to be suspicious of this girl he just met.

And (as you've said), he's incredibly patient when it comes to Eilonwy insulting him quite frequently.

Okay! Climbing off soapbox. Keep up the truly breathtaking work!

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view Saeriellyn's profile

6th Feb 2017, 11:13 PM

Saeriellyn

You are correct on all points, of course! If people are hard on Taran, we can perhaps blame it on the fact that it's easy, given the time between updates, to evaluate his behavior in a single page in isolation, without giving too much thought to the bigger picture - particularly on part of those for whom this comic is their first introduction to the stories; they don't know the endgame, and are unacquainted with the Taran-to-be which we see only glimpses of here - though I do try to drop hints.

There's also the unfortunate fact that teenagers behaving like teenagers are often obnoxious, even when they have legitimate excuses for their behavior. As you may have noticed, I adore Eilonwy in particular, but fully acknowledge that her manners are frequently objectionable, especially at this stage.

This is, after all, one of the strengths of the books - the believability and relatability of the characters and the arc they undergo.

Glad you are enjoying this, and hope to hear from you again! Such thoughtful commentary is so motivating to me. :)

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7th Feb 2017, 12:31 AM

CM

I'm glad it's motivating to you! I so would like to see you continue this; it really is excellent work.

I have noticed you particularly like Eilonwy--the amount of screen time she's received since her introduction is a little disproportionate, in a sense--but you have such fun with her that it's impossible not to have fun along with you.

Of course, Eilonwy's behavior towards Taran is, in a sense, objectionable, but I think she too can be forgiven. When Taran's rude to her, it's usually because he's being oblivious; he doesn't mean any harm. But she's mostly rude to Taran because she's got a crush on him, and either doesn't know how to acknowledge it (yet, at any rate), or to convey it. And being mean to the people you especially like is something kids do. (Sadly, it's still something adults do, all too frequently.) Rereading through the books as an adult, I was amazed how quickly this becomes clear, even in the first book. (I was also amazed at how natural it seems, rather than forced or cliched.) The way she works in compliments with insults, dropping hints without wanting to drop the fact that she's dropping hints. I don't think she's really aware of it, herself, but it's definitely there.

I have to say, I really enjoy the subtle hints of this whole thing you've managed to work in already. (Like the way you emphasize her noticing that he shields her from the blast of the collapsing Spiral Castle with his body, as if she's half-thinking, "Oh. Wow. Cool." Which definitely undercuts her hurt feelings at being accused of being a traitor by evidently the first person she's had powerfully demonstrate putting her good before his own. I mean: ouch.)

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view Saeriellyn's profile

8th Feb 2017, 6:55 PM

Saeriellyn

Oh, goodness, forgive me for pontificating, but this is one of my favorite topics.

My interpretation of T and E's behavior toward one another is one of if not THE thing I enjoy the most about the books (being a romantic at heart). You've hit on one aspect of why things go as they do, but I've actually got more complex stuff at work.

(Warning to other readers; spoilers ahead)

Taran has had a presumably happy, healthy, and wholesome childhood, even in his parents' absence. We're given just enough to know that, although he wishes he knew his family for the sake of identity, he doesn't seem to lack for affection or guidance in the care of Dallben and Coll. He's a very typical, well-adjusted kid overall; rash and impulsive like most teenage boys but thoughtful, compassionate, and sincerely well-meaning underneath. Although Eilonwy is, presumably, his first meaningful interaction with any girl, and his response to her - a mixture of intrigue, befuddlement, and annoyance - is normal for his age, he also treats her with an amazing amount of deference and courtesy (considering her treatment of him) when those traits aren't being overridden by some emotional crisis. I think it's likely that Dallben's education has included plenty of noble concepts about chivalry toward women, and Taran, serious as he is about nobility, would have internalized that.

Eilonwy, on the other hand, is a traumatized child. We don't know the circumstances of her kidnapping, nor how old she was when it happened. She remembers almost nothing of her life pre-Achren, and her only role model has been a bitter, de-throned, nearly insane evil enchantress who only wants to use her as a puppet. I can't imagine Achren being terribly nurturing; in fact she is probably abusive on several levels. The only other residents of Spiral Castle would be Achren's henchmen. Nice, wholesome environment for a young girl, no? It's amazing, all things considered, that Eilonwy turns out as well as she does - not that there's anything new about the "invulnerable orphan" archetype. Anne Shirley comes to mind immediately.

So when she snaps at Taran or gives him backhanded compliments or flies into temper tantrums, what I see is someone who has literally /never had a positive relationship/ in her living memory trying to navigate what that actually looks like. She's naturally forthright and doesn't know how to be diplomatic. She's sarcastic because sarcasm is a defense mechanism when she starts to feel vulnerable. Her hurt over Taran's accusations is real precisely because he is her first friend - never mind even crush yet. She lets her guard down and he betrays her - not intentionally, of course, but the damage is there. And yet she forgives him quickly, despite an Achren-ish wish to see him grovel, because she desperately wants the relationship; this is a child who has just escaped a prison and he is her lifeline.

It's remarkably complex for a children's book.

And of course it's my own interpretation, built off of my own experiences and a liberal dose of self-indentification with her character. Others might get something completely different out of it, but it's the inner narrative I'm working within while I'm adapting the text. A few years ago I started writing The Book of Three from Eilonwy's perspective (I write fanfiction too, as if this wasn't enough), and spent a lot of time hashing all this out to my own satisfaction. I need to finish that project!

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8th Feb 2017, 11:43 PM

CM

No forgiveness required! You've obviously thought a lot about this--a lot more than I have. It is touching how much these books clearly mean to you.

I should have clarified that, when speaking about Taran and Eilonwy's relationship, I was doing so in a broader context, not simply as regards the happenings which you have covered thus far in this (wonderful) comic. It seems to have come off as if I was saying, "Yeah, she's into him even at this point" but that's not what I was trying to do. That said, I *do* think that we are meant to believe that this is the case by the end of the first book--not necessarily meant to believe that Eilonwy knows that this is the case (she is, after all, a traumatized child--as you say--interacting for the first time with another person her age). But there are, I think, at least a few lines that talk about her giving Taran "glances" when she says significant things. And, even if you factor in in the age issue, I don't think mere desire for friendship, affection, etc. is enough to account for the emphasis laid on her (somewhat) glomming on to Taran, specifically--as opposed to Fflewddur or Gurgi. After all, a recurrent theme in the books is the insistence that friendship is not restricted to members of a common age--or class, or standing, or even (in this fantasy setting) species.

The way she behaves towards Taran is consistently and markedly different from the way she behaves towards anyone else, even those she calls friends. (Granted, she can be sarcastic and insulting towards them, too, but it's not the same kind of sarcasm.) I mean, I suppose you could reduce this to a sort of symbolic psychological structure: Taran represents for her the possibility of freedom and friendship, and hence her behavior towards him can be read in light of mixed longing and fear that this possibility induces. To me, that would seem a little too impersonal, as if she regards Taran more as a talisman than as a person. But, despite her trauma and sarcasm and fear, she's too kind to do that. And, isn't another recurring theme of these books that we are much more than the products of our upbringing? That who we are is not determined by psychological conditioning or responses, or our heritage or state, or even current abilities, but by who we choose to be? This provides a pretty good basis for understanding how Alexander could even write Eilonwy as he writes her--otherwise, her virtue and selflessness at the beginning simply boggles the mind. But it seems to me that, despite how traumatized she is, despite the harshness of her upbringing and the loneliness of her life, we're clearly meant to realize that she's consistently opted for virtue, and rejected Achren and her influence as much as she was capable. It's this that even makes it possible for her to form a friendship with Taran, rather than do what he tragically suspects her of doing. And it's this that also informs her growing affection for him: she herself is good, and recognizes basic goodness when she sees it. I don't think it's that Taran is the first person who comes along, and she's got some sort of fixation on him because of this. (Granted, I don't think you're claiming *this* precisely; nor am I saying that something like this is not at all operative in their relationship. I just don't think it reduces down to this.)

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8th Feb 2017, 11:49 PM

CM

In other words, though we are not given access to Eilonwy's point of view, as we are Taran's, we are given enough to realize that she develops/realizes her feelings for him well before he does for her. My interpretation is that, as regards Eilonwy, these are already manifestly present, at least inchoately, by the end of the first book. (They are certainly there by the beginning of The Black Cauldron. I defy anyone to gainsay me!--Defy, you hear!?)

But, speaking of recurring themes, as I remember them now another one that runs through Alexander's books is the general pattern of boy meets girl in some sort of fateful meeting, girl helps boy significantly, boy slowly realizes his romantic feelings for girl . . . girl has been waiting for boy to catch up all along. This happens so frequently in Alexander's books that it would be tremendously difficult to not see it happening here. (Indeed, the Prydain books are pattern-setting for Alexander's children's fantasy.)

That being said, I do think you're very correct when it comes to your analysis of her history and motivation up to this point. You've done a lot of deep thinking about it, after all! Indeed, it is astounding that she is the way she is at all, considering what we know or can deduce of her life up to this point. The level of selflessness she displays is crazy. E.g., ripping up her own clothes to bind Taran's wound, then later wondering (albeit, unrealistically) about the feasibility of getting him out of the pit by completely destroying the dress and even cutting off all her hair. It's rather over-the-top, but it indicates a level of deep-down selflessness that is nothing short of extraordinary. But, again, we can be sure that this is an aspect of something Eilonwy's chosen, repeatedly, well before we meet her or she meets Taran--not to be ruled, morally, by Achren as she is, physically; to be an anti-Achren.

So, I suppose the main difference between our interpretations of Eilonwy's motivation when it comes to helping Taran reduces down to the dominant force in this decision. Yes, I think she sees him as her lifeline out of Spiral Tower; but she doesn't see him as just this; she sees he is a good person. She herself is a good person, despite all the odds, and though she may want to stay with Taran/not have anywhere else to go, I don't think she's primarily being opportunistic, even if it were to be understandable. Of course, I may have completely misread what you were saying! Actually laying everything out in com boxes, while trying not to spoil anything for new readers, is very difficult

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view Saeriellyn's profile

9th Feb 2017, 4:09 PM

Saeriellyn

omg I hope you stick around forever. You have no idea how deliriously happy I am with this convo.

I obviously didn't express myself entirely clearly up above - alas, you're right, this forum doesn't particularly lend itself to prolonged discussion, or maybe I was in too much of a hurry, which in my life is highly probable. Anyway, let me clarify - I absolutely am not disagreeing with you on ANY point! You will not find a more ardent supporter of the romance between these two, nor of the idea that E falls for T roughly 5.25 minutes after laying eyes on him. My previous comment wasn't intended to contradict that aspect but to expand upon it.

A first crush is a complicated phenomenon even for emotionally healthy people, which Eilonwy is not - therefore her response to Taran is likewise complicated. She likes him, but liking someone makes you vulnerable, and her history has taught her to avoid vulnerability. So she is in continual conflict with herself. She alternates between adoring him, often against her own will, and being infuriated with him for failing to live up to her adoration; writing him off for that reason and then forgiving him because she can't help it. She'd deny it all if asked point-blank, and undoubtedly denies it to herself most of the time. When I called him her lifeline, I meant it in more than practical terms - he's her ticket out of Spiral Castle, yes, but he's also her emotional anchor, her first friend, and her romantic interest, giving her the stability and acceptance she hasn't had while she balances out his idealism and inflated sense of self-importance with her pragmatism. They need each other. But right now her need is the most obvious.

I use their interaction with Fflewddur as contrast here - Alexander does this in very subtle ways, as Fflewddur's wry observations are, I suspect, the voice of the author and his gentle wisdom; it's no accident that the bard's physical description and livelihood mirror his creator's. I think he uses the simple and straightforward relationship between Fflewddur and the two youths as a contrast to T and E's relationship, which serves to clarify what's really going on between them, and I've tried to hint at that in the comic. Fflewddur, the consummate gentleman, treats E like a lady from the beginning, and she responds instantly with trust and affection. He is everything she needs him to be - an avuncular figure if not a paternal one, kind, protective, sympathetic. There's nothing confusing about her relationship with Fflewddur, and so her barbs of temper are almost never aimed at him. She reserves those for Taran because he, and her own feelings for him, are confusing, contradictory, and complex.

You know, you should really just read my story. It explains everything, including just how obsessed I really am. lol It's right here. :)

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11th Feb 2017, 8:57 PM

CM

I read it, and enjoyed it, although it felt radically different (at points) from Alexander. You have a way with words, and I enjoyed your depiction of Dyrnwyn as semi-sentient, and of Eilonwy's affinity with magical things and places. I sometimes felt she was depicted as being almost too fragile--not something I associate with her at all. And it read a little cerebral for me. But over all, very good stuff! Thanks for sharing!

(Also, I was completely unprepared for that last chapter.)

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view Saeriellyn's profile

12th Feb 2017, 1:42 AM

Saeriellyn

Ah well, alas, I don't claim to be able to write like Alexander! The story is my own interpretation and my own style, and while I'm aware of its flaws, I've had a wonderful time writing it. :) Glad you enjoyed.

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12th Feb 2017, 5:49 AM

CM

Ah, that probably came out wrong (again). I did enjoy it. I suppose I was thrown off a bit because it felt very adult. (Not in that euphemistic way, of course!!) You really should continue the project.--Only not so that it takes time away from this drool-aducing comic gorgeousness. Mowr. Mowr now.

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view mjkj's profile

6th Feb 2017, 2:17 PM

mjkj

Oh, they are jumpy...

Well, is it a ghost or some wildlife? *Taran gets wide eyes and flees*

I love Eilonwy's look in the second to last panel <3

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view Saeriellyn's profile

6th Feb 2017, 11:14 PM

Saeriellyn

You just never know! But in this case, it's somebody we've seen before...

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7th Feb 2017, 6:35 PM

RHYMESOFTHERENEGADES

I don't think he is fleeing in terror so much as storming off in annoyance.

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9th Feb 2017, 5:35 AM

CM

Also: sorry for bombarding you and your com boxes! I just relish talking about books with people who also relish talking about books.

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view Saeriellyn's profile

9th Feb 2017, 3:33 PM

Saeriellyn

Oh, did you just apologize for engaging thoughtfully on my favorite books and my favorite topic within them? Please! Bombard me all you like!

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