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For those of you who need background information: The Prydain Chronicles are a series of children's fantasy books by Lloyd Alexander. For my part, I love them. My fourth-grade teacher read the first three to us and managed to get the entire class completely hooked. Everyone should read them at least once (as well as The Dark is Rising Sequence, but that's another story). The stories are loosely based on Welsh mythology and it's entertaining to match up characters and events with their original counterparts.

This summer I listened to several audio books, The Book of Three (the first novel in the series) being one of them. I wasn't especially fond of it but listening did a good job of making me think about the book. Especially about things that don't come to mind when you're in elementary school! Some general decisions:
--Mrs. W did a much better job of reading the books, very much so when it came to the character voices.
--At this point in the series, Taran is very much in the "Girls Have Cooties!" stage. He is also a drama king at times. (very amusing)
--Gurgi is passive-aggressive.
--Gwydion and Achren Have A Past Together.

Longer speculations:
When the group is in Medwin's valley, Medwin tells Taran that Gurgi is neither fully animal nor fully man. Could Gurgi be based on the "archetype" of the wild man in the wood? I think it's possible, especially after comparing his physical description with that of the title character in Sweeney Astray. He fits the mold very well. Read about the wild man and Green Man stories, and you'll see what I mean. 

Although the name "Medwin" is very close to "Merlin," I do not think that they are at all the same person. Dalben is a closer match. I do think that Medwin is a Noah figure. Almost all mythologies have a story similar to the Biblical Flood; Celtic mythology has several, such as the drowned city of Ys. (That particular legend is unrelated to this book.) There is the skeleton of a ship in Medwin's valley and Taran himself brings up the story of Dalben once saying that water covered all of Prydain. Medwin doesn't say it's true, but he doesn't deny it. 

More about Gwydion and Achren. I have a strong suspicion that Achren is based upon Arianrhod. (For starters there names are a bit similar, although that can often be unreliable.) Unfortunately, I don't have my copy of The Book of Three with me (left it at home and the college library doesn't have a copy, dammit) with me but when Gwydion and Taran are brought to Spiral Castle, Gwydion and Achren's interaction and dialogue makes me certain that they had a romantic relationship at some point. In the stories, Arianrhod is Gwydion's sister. He's not a very pleasant person, very different from the honorable  warrior-prince he's represented as in the series. To put the story as simply as possible: Gwydion somehow makes Arianrhod give birth to a child when she's proving that she's a virgin so that she can get a high position at the castle. She is understandably very ticked-off about this. Depending on which version you read, there are hints of incest between them, which is common in all mythologies. My theory is that in The Prydain Chronicles, they had a romance, one or both of them broke it off on bad terms. Achren then becomes Arawn's consort. Later on she is also cast aside by him, surely contributing to her evilness. If you read the books and stories, you'll see exactly what I mean.

Wikipedia is all right for looking things up, but I strongly recommend the Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology by James MacKillop. It's one of the better resources out there (and one of my favorites). Have also found hints in it to King Eidellig and the dwarf that keeps trying to turn invisible, but I can't remember the details at the moment.

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