Cue some character building!
For my non-familiar fans, one of the book details that hasn't made it in here so far is that Gurgi smells strongly like wet dog. Wolfhound, to be precise. So this level of physical contact with him requires enough compassion to override the aversion.
Oh my God, so heroic. Gurgi terrified me as a little girl. I thought his voice was annoying.
It's funny, now that I've seen the Lord of the Rings movies for the first time (haven't read them yet, and usually I don't see movies before reading the books, but this time I made an exception), it's really interesting to see where Lloyd Alexander was obviously influenced by those books. But then again, every fantasy writer is, aren't they?
It either goes the Lord of the Rings way or the Conan way. There are Conan variations, like Elric Stormbringer or Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.
I admire Diana Wynne Jones because she seems to immune to these influences. But I love Tolkien and his vision, so bring on your Alexanders and Martins and Rowlings.
To some extent, but really they were both pulling from classic myth structure, so I don't find Alexander derivative as much as contemporary. I love Tolkien but he could have stood to be influenced by Lloyd's sparing prose; not to mention excising having his characters spontaneously burst into a four-page song like a broadway musical. XD
You raise some good points. I think there are definitely some big similarities between the two, something that will have to be considered if they ever get around to making these films, but there are also many differences. For starters, LOTR is basically one long story divided into three books, whereas Prydain is 5 distinct books that, while all fitting into the larger arc, each tell their own story. There's lots of other differences too.
Tolkien's easier for those of us used to Homer, Vergil, and all those Norse and Celtic (from Iceland to India and Urumchi) sagas. It's sung poetry and prose set down onto papaer for what was meant to be one huge, honking book (even compared to The Hobbit - wartime paper rationing divided it into three books, though nearly six). Also, other than, perhaps, Hermes compared to other Gods, nothing in literature was like Hobbits as central heroic characters.
Tolkien is so iconic and deliberately derivative that we can miss his shocking originality. Judaism and Christianity are the same way, arguably, so that's pretty high praise.
KRBLACK2 makes an interesting point about the utility of lips. With God, or as an author, all things are possible, I suppose.
Whoa this got really intense...
*Waves his white flag*
To be sure, there is tons of diversity among contemporary fantasy writers and the best, like Lloyd Alexander, bring a lot of different influences as well as their own sensibility to the table! I think as influences, Tolkien and Howard loom large over the genre, but that can be by inspiring differentiation as well as imitation.
What Tolkien gave us was a contemporary example of how to use fantasy as a medium to tell a story of personal growth and moral development in a world that was unapologetically imaginary but not the setting of a cutesy fairy tale. He obviously didn't invent these things--There and Back Again is the story of the Odyssey--but he did it differently than anyone else and demonstrated the market potential in one stroke.
I do feel a lot of Tolkien's influence in Prydain. When I just read through, I was struck by how Arawn's function in the narrative is so similar to Sauron's, in his dark kingdom so similar to Mordor. Caer Dallben's place in the narrative feels very similar to the Shire. This particular setup is so very Tolkien. But from there it goes in fresh directions! C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, and Tolkien were my first fantasy loves, encountered in that order, and read over and over in my grade school days.
Good page as always! The drought has turned into a flood.
I like your interpretation of Gurgi. Seeing it so well visualized, however, I worry that his canine features would make it impossible to form speech sounds. Which is something I'm sure C.S. Lewis never spent time thinking about!
Well, some birds manage it!
But yeah, I don't know. It might be an interesting job for a linguist to research what sort of an "accent" an animal might have, if it could speak, just as a side-effect of anatomy.
And given that Lewis pontificated on what the voice of a creature without a physical body at all might sound like (re: the eldila in the Space Trilogy), it's rather surprising he didn't address the same question in animal speech.
A fantasy creature like Gurgi could conceivably have a tympanum in its voice box instead of paired vocal chords; that kind of arrangement is potentially as versatile in the sounds it can produce as the speaker used in telephones, stereo systems, etc., so a creature that had one wouldn't need to form consonant sounds with its lips, tongue, and teeth.
Birds, that's true! Where there's a will there's a way.
I think this scene is a big turning point in Taran and Gurgi's relationship and Gurgi's character evolution overall. This is where he starts to go from being a somewhat comic, mostly annoying character to showing the bravery and devotion that will come to define him later.
Which is exactly why I can't rush this scene! :) It's going to continue shortly.
So, did they see (or hear) Gurgi...?
No, they're not THAT close, and he's pretty stealthy.
They probably wouldn't be paying attention to the treetops anyway; humans looking for other humans don't tend to look up, and there's no reason the inhumanity of the Cauldron-Born should change that particular tendency.
That's true; the Cauldron-born are singular of purpose and are likely only chasing them because they are marked as involved somehow in the castle's destruction, which Arawn is no doubt aware of. (I think the CB are kind of a hive mind with him controlling them from Annuvin.)
Mantis, I have one friend who theorizes that the CB turn back later not due, as T thinks, to their distance from Annuvin (which seems ridiculously convenient and coincidental) but because they recognize Dyrnwyn. Curious on what you think of that.
I don't mean to jump in on this convo, but I like this theory a lot, as it makes perfect sense. Without getting too spoilery here, I think it can also apply to stuff that happens later in the series and fix a plot hole or two.
I like the hive-mind theory... explains a lot (spoilers). Also like the Dyrnwyn theory - certainly has a clear logic to it. Though sometimes convenient coincidences only seem so in the fullness of time...
Oh, poor Gurgi! Taran won't let you down, pal.
I love watching this cast grow together, and you're taking your time and telling it so well.
One of Taran's major Character Moments, and it's easy to forget that it's also one for Gurgi. Both of them evolve a little. ;)
Wait! Gurgi was only joking!
In a bad moment, a real hero doesn't worry about petty things like a bad smell. That's my boy!