This page breaks my heart in all the right ways. I'm currently writing my own story about Eilonwy's parents Angharad and Geraint, who are canon characters appearing in a short story from a spin-off collection Lloyd wrote after Chronicles. My version takes their five page bedtime tale and mangles spins it out into an unabashedly melodramatic epic-novel-length romance which you can follow HERE, if you’re inclined.
Paired with some appropriate music this page literally made me cry WHILE I WAS DRAWING and since I am nothing if not generous, you can have the same emotional experience by opening this link in its own window.
btw, there is no update schedule in the summer. I post when I'm done. You'll just have to keep checking. :)
Oh my. I was really not expecting a gut punch like this. Having read your fanfic, I immediately knew what was going on (although it should be clear even to someone who hasn't read it). Anyway, a ton of emotions just crashed down on me and I wasn't even expecting to see an update when I checked your page.
Awww, you're reading? Thank you! I can't tell you how much I love writing this one. I'm such a sap. Taran/Eilonwy will always be my OTP but Geraint/Angharad are giving them a real run for the money right now.
I haven't read your fanfic (you have a fanfic? Where?), but do still know enough about Geraint and Angharad to similarly feel gut-punched from this page. Very well done (and I love how their faces are always just off-panel. Reflecting Eilonwy's minimal memories of them, I assume, since she was abducted by Achren when she was little?).
Oh lord I write Prydain fanfic almost as prolifically as I create art. I’ve got loads, but my WIP Geraint/Angharad story is Here.
It’s long, and slowly- updating, but meanwhile check out my profile over there if you’re a fic reader. It’ll keep you busy for a while.
And you assume correctly, of course - sorry, got so keyed up about fic I forgot to finish answering. XD
Awesome, thanks for the link (and replies). :)
Oh, man, these pages are really wonderful... especially this one. I love how you keep Eilonwy's parents' faces out of frame. It really gives us a sense of how distant she feels from them now. Even in memory, they're more of a presence than a person.
(And welcome back!)
Symbolizing that she's really pulling up vague images rather than clear memories - though nothing would make me happier than drawing her parents. Once I finish writing my story about them I might turn it into its own comic.
Please do it! If you want to continue from your fanfic, I'd love to see a happy family AU where Eilonwy grows up with her parents! It would be great if they lived by the seashore!
Sing me back home!
Music will do it every time!
I have to reread my copy of The Foundling to understand this one!
Read The True Enchanter, and then go read this: Clicky!
'Tis me. Thank you, I will add it to my list.
Thank you Rick!
Definitely one of your best pages, such vivid detail! I thought you might be linking this to your ongoing story, which I've been following and am curious to see where it goes. The series sets-up well for additional expansion and adaptation without breaking cannon, and I'm glad you've been able to do so in a number of different media.
Another reader! I’m so glad to hear it - hope it does not disappoint.
I suppose the woman holding baby Eilonwy is Angharad and the man behind her is Geriant. Pardon me, I’ve never seen them depicted visually before.
Correct! Of course we aren’t given any physical description of Geraint besides the blue eyes he passes on to his daughter, but he’s firmly established in my mind after years of plotting their story.
Also, for someone who has no schedule, for the last two days you have been working extremely quickly.
I have been neglecting all else. We will not discuss the state of my house or children at the moment.
Poor Eilonwy. I'm trying to remember if Alexander ever specifies how young she was when she'd lost both her parents. She has clear memories of Llyr, of what people call the waves there, and what it really means, but I feel like she can't have been more than four-ish when she was taken away and into a nightmare, and probably younger. You certainly give this page the feel of a discovered memory.
He doesn’t really, and it’s somewhat confusing, since Morda describes Angharad as begging for help in searching for her “infant” daughter. My personal interpretation is that A is delirious at that point and not quite coherent, since we do have Eilonwy’s vague memories of being at the seaside and being told at least a little of Llyrian lore, and an infant/toddler wouldn’t have those memories. Moreover she is still too “whole” to have been in Achren’s dubious care for the most formative years of her life. So I’ve always thought she must be around four or five at her kidnapping.
"Infant" is a somewhat broader term in British English, for what that's worth. The ceiling is at age five or six.
Good to know. I feel vindicated. :)
THEY'RE RISING TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE RED BULL!!
Can anyone name that fantasy reference?
Oh man I haven’t read TLU in years. My first “Red Bull” reference thought was the drink, haha.
Funnily enough, while I was very familiar with the film (one of the earliest ones I ever watched as a kid, when I was 3 or 4), I never read the book until I got to college and my roommate had a copy. Like the Neverending Story, I didn't even know it was a book for the longest time.
Meanwhile, I've been a Prydain fan ever since a book order couldn't fill the four books I did want, so substituted them with four other random ones from the same or similar genre and thus gave me The Black Cauldron (plus Doctor Dolittle and two others I don't recall at this point).
I saw the film in 1983, and immediately went out and found a paperback version, which puzzled me, as I was 13 at the time. Good stuff. I loved, most of all, the film's amorous old crone of a tree.
You talking about the cleavage scene with Fflewddur and Orwen? Cringe-inducing. I break out in hives at the thought.
No, I'm pretty sure Honz was referring to this scene from The Last Unicorn -- Schmendrick is tied to a tree by bandits, and the spell he casts in an attempt to free himself animates the tree instead.
Showing my age I guess...I had to Google what "OTP" means. Another brilliant and
beautiful page and thanks for the links to the "fanfic." (That one was relatively easy to figure out...)... :-)
She is, and has long been my favourite character. I've gotten to the last book of the series (thanks to you) and despite the constant kvetching on Goodreads about Alexander's supposed misogyny or Eilonwy's having been repeatedly slighted, she is described as just about as perfect as a seemingly daft chatterbox designed to be irritating to a middle school boy could be. If King Flam doesn't get rabid "defenders", she shouldn't either. Plus the books are so Taran centered that OF COURSE he misses the point repeatedly. It's how we see his depth. You've consistently grasped that, and it's one reason I understand the books better than I otherwise would, had I even read them (I owned them, in the expectation I'd read them to my daughter, but my mother-in-law intervened - at least I got Narnia in).
Oh, internet. I'm so done with the misguided craptalk about Eilonwy, which stems from a surface reading of the material through a knee-jerk offendedfeminist lens that completely fails to grasp the depth of her character and the fact that even today her arc is absolutely, totally empowering.
I have an essay in me that's been brewing for a long time about this, and I need to just sit down and get it out.
I look forward to reading that. (Also I love this page, great way to do a flashback.) It has been close to 30 years since I read them but I think I would like to go back and re-read the Westmark series now that I have a more solid literary background overall and see what parallels exist between Theo/ Taran and Mickle/ Eilonwy. The most obvious that both series are a bildungsroman for all four.
(Also I always liked Count Las Bombas, such a roguish "heart of gold" scoundrel... once charged with the Salamanca Lancers...or so I've heard.)
I discussed the similarities and differences between Taran/Eilonwy and Theo/Mickle some in the comments to Chapter Eleven, Page 3, and also the comments to this illustration on Saeriellyn's DeviantArt page; search the respective pages for "Theo" and you'll find the relevant comments.
What? How could one read Eilonwy's character and think that she is anything less than a fully developed character? She's the co-star of the show, so to speak, so how could she be anything less?
Sign me up to read your essay when it's available. Your art and writing are enviable talents that you skillfully display on every occasion, so thank you for sharing them.
The kerfuffle revolves around the way she sort of fades into the background in the last several books - SPOILER ALERT: in CoL she's absent for much of the story and then is forced to give up use of her powers (and in feministthought this is seen as giving up her agency); she's entirely gone from TW, and then in THK she seems a little less rebellious than she used to be, and by the end gives up her chance at immortality in order to stay with Taran (again, in femthought: SHE GAVE IT ALL UP FOR A MAN. TEH HORROR) There's also some kvetching about Dorath's attempted assault, which was, granted, a terrible thing for Lloyd to do to her, but perfectly realistic for his character and a crucial scene for the stakes in that chapter.
Again, on the surface, this all could be pretty damning. But the critics typically fail to take into account that literally every single character of note in these books makes similar sacrifices, none more than Taran himself...gee, it's almost like it's a THEME or something, and certainly not limited to Eilonwy and the fact that she is female. As for her not being present for a good chunk of the series, nobody misses her more than I except Taran himself, but it's his story, and any astute reader can see why it's necessary. I could go on and on here, but...I'll save it for the essay.
I appreciate your take on it, because try as I might, I can't quite twist my mind far enough for any of what you outlined make any rational sense. Life is not magical fairy time and "no man is an insland unto himself", and that quote/paraphrasing doesn't *just* mean men, it means all Humankind.
It's rather like the people who say the US Bill of Rights and Constitution ignore the rights of women, Native Americans, African Americans and so forth. They *completely* neglect, or more likely ignore, to take into consideration that, in the language of the period, the use of the term "Men" in that context, particularly when capitalized, means *all* humankind. You don't need to label and categorize people when you are referring to the entire human race, which is their favorite ploy for rousing anger and dividing in people. It's enough to drive a rational person to despair for the future of humanity sometimes.
Anyhow, you excel in expressing yourself in art an writing, so I am keen on reading what you write, whenever that may be.
My first thought was the horses, and Tolkien's added riverine touch by Gandalf, and my second was pity that there were only three, instead of "four white horses", like Fezzik's find in The Princess Bride.
...when you wake, you shall have...AAAAALLLL the pretty little horses....
Three is a magic number in celtic lore, you know.
Agh! This page!
Oh! I do hope you end up having the chance to do The Castle of Lyre! :3 It was my personal favorite! (Cause, you know, girls didn't have too many thoughtful girl fantasies back in the day XD)
And now Eilonwy's flashback...
Both this page and the previous one really bring out some strong emotions in me. You just know how to hit all the right notes in your artwork to really make me feel something as I'm reading these pages. I feel like, as a parent, it can be so bittersweet as your children grow up because it's so awesome to see the people they are growing up to be, but it's also sad at the same time because you miss that little child that he/she was.
Anyway, to get back to the page - it's so good - the water, Eilonwy and her parents having their day at the beach...and Eilonwy in the last panel is just beautiful.
I totally get you. It all goes so fast. I loved the opportunity in these pages to show that these characters have childhoods and histories even if they aren’t part of this story. They’re still part of their stories.
As moving as this lovely panel is, I am a little bit surprised by finding it. In the dungeons, Eilonwy had assured she could not remember any time she had not lived in Spiral Castle and later she had that fierce clash with Taran about sending her to a place and people she had no inner relationship to at all. Now her choice of words in this passage does not suggest to me that some suppressed infant memory has unexpectedly welled up. She rather sounds like the related incident was familiar to her and she only wonders why it has come up just now.
You know, this scene is another very Tolkienesque element in the narrative, and Alexander was no doubt aware of it. Tolkien's books are full of people who gain first sight of the sea and it kindles in them an everlasting longing to return. I am tempted to relate Eilonwy's image particulary to Frodo's dream vision of the sea in LotR. Always implied by Tolkien is also faring across the sea, to Valinor, i. e. the earthly Paradise. In Prydain this refers, more down-to-earth, to the crossing of the Children of Don and, if they should succeed, their departure back across. So what Eilonwy may have seen in the book was not really her past but a premonition of her future - both on Mona and beyond - as laid out for her if Taran had not come along.
In my understanding, therefore, Eilonwy's seaside experience is later than her abduction which she does not remember. It was Achren who has stealthily taken her to Mona on one or more occasions to pursue her sinister purposes there - including conveying some trivia about local maritime culture to Eilonwy - and that's where she got her lively memory from. So much then for "not knowing anything beyond Spiral Castle".
Your above interpretation meanwhile is opening a few cans of worms. It suggests that despite her assurances to the contrary Eilonwy really has a home to long for, and wasn't Dallben then right about sending her there? Wasn't his decision then at least in part welcome to Eilonwy? But why then was she so unwavering about staying in Caer Dallben at the end of BoT? I am afraid you might have sketched yourself into a corner here once you will tackle CoL.
Oh this is no corner, but it IS a can of worms. It’s one I am more than delighted to open and explore, however.
To make a very, very long story short, I believe Eilonwy’s abduction took place when she was about five years old. Before that point she lived with her parents, though not necessarily on Mona. Angharad’s ancestral homelands at Llyr is destroyed (through means I am currently developing in my own fanfiction) and although her elopement with Geraint has become local legend, they deliberately disappear to protect their child, who they know at the outset will be sought by Achren.
How Achren tracked them down, and how her parents met their demise, is a topic I have vague ideas about, but in the end Eilonwy only consciously remembers spiral castle because most people don’t remember much before their mid-childhood, and also Achren deliberately alters her memory through magical means. It’s possible however that vague images and sensations “leak” through that barrier, however, and especially in moments of vulnerability. Music is a powerful means of evoking the subconscious mind and emotions, and this harp in particular has that power. So what she’s experiencing here are not so much clear memories as brief and sharp dream-like moments.
As for Castle of Llyr, I can’t wait to explain it all! ?
Well, my daughter recalls events from a seaside trip that we made when she was 2 years old, which I find surprising. My own memory commences at 3 or 4, which I can tell because we moved twice during that period.
The point is, though: Eilonwy states as a fact that she has been at the sea while assuring that she has no memory of her time before Spiral Castle. Her vision during the harp-play is thus no suppressed memory of hers but an event she is also otherwise aware of. I think we don't need to involve Achren's magic here: Either Eilonwy is right, then the seaside voyage happened indeed after her abduction and she had been in the retinue of Achren, or she is not aware that her memory is in fact older than that. But in the latter case she would have remarked on recalling (only now?) that there had been persons with her who were neither Achren nor any of her henchmen, wouldn't she? And in that case her memory would have again an effect of her later opinion about a return to Mona, wouldn't it?
No. This is a suppressed memory only just now coming to the surface, and it doesn’t even come all the way up. Note her words: “It made me think of the sea again, though I haven’t been there since I was a little girl.” No mention of who she was with, but in my mind Achren would have had no reason to bring her near her ancestral home until she was old enough to access the full extent of her power. I interpret her as actually not having thought about the sea in years and only at this moment realizing it, and wondering why.
Then in that same sequence Eilonwy describes some imagery that is clearly a Llyrian legend (the white horses), which Achren would have had little motivation for instructing her in. Thus she heard it and remembers it from someone else: her own mother. But of Angharad herself she remembers nothing beyond vague impressions.
But this is not Mona, and as far as Eilonwy is concerned she has no particular yearning for a place as much as for a family. Thus her distress at leaving Caer Dallben, because the trio of bachelors there have become that. Mona itself does nothing for her, but she does get drawn to Caer Colur, which is what makes her so vulnerable to Achren’s spells in CoL, and makes her struggle so much to give her heritage up in the end climax.
You are, of course, welcome to your own interpretation, but you will not convince me to change mine! ? I have already written an entire novel on Eilonwy and am almost finished with one about her parents’ elopement and the fall of Llyr, so my plot is not budging.
And yet she knows that she has been at the sea, it had not come as a surprise to her. If she had said, "Why, I can't remember that I have ever been there", than that would have supported your interpretation. But on the contrary: her "again" suggests that this particular piece of memory is not unfamiliar to her at all, she only wonders why it had been invoked right here, by the harp-play. Since OTOH she is adamant that she has lived in Spiral Castle as far back as she can remember, at least to her the notion is plausible that she must have been at the sea during that time. And who are we to question her judgment? ?
I can assure you there are few, if any, people on earth who have thought about this more than I have. I am not saying my interpretation is the only “true” one - only that it is perfectly consistent with what we are told and not told in the text. You are free to believe whatever you like, but insisting that my version is impossible is just incorrect.
I have reasons for believing that Eilonwy had a happy life before living with Achren. The first, I have already mentioned above. Secondly, if she had lived with Achren all her life, with her only example being set by an evil, manipulative, power-hungry enchantress, it is extremely unlikely Eilonwy would turn out as well as she did. She is damaged, yes, but not destroyed; her hardness is a protective shell over a fundamentally good human being. This suggests she had positive examples and loving relationships during her earliest formative years.
Further, I content that Achren would have had no reason to take her to Mona at any point in her life, much less that the memory would be a pleasant one. Eilonwy’s bauble and pendant would have made her instantly recognizable as the lost princess of Llyr by any of the island inhabitants, so it would have been very stupid to take her there, and Achren, whatever else she is, is definitely not stupid.
So I am not questioning her judgement or memory (though it’s perfectly valid to do so; children’s memories can be faulty just like anyone else). She is truthful when she says she has lived at Spiral Castle as long as she can remember. But she had a life before that which she cannot remember, except in brief moments like the one here. This is a fundamental part of my handling of her story and understanding of her character, and I’m not changing it.
You can take that or leave it, however you wish. I will not argue it further.