The Book of Three, Chapter 7 – The Trap – and Chapter 8 – The Barrow
These are two of the less interesting chapters in the book, in my opinion, so I’m going to breeze through them so we can get back to the real action. Eilonwy comes back (yay!) and tells Taran his companion and Melyngar are free. She didn’t find weapons, though, because she didn’t have time to look and “you can’t expect me to do everything, can you?” So she and Taran escape the cell through the tunnel under the flagstone and flee through the twisty underground passages. Taran loses his footing and falls into a sunken chamber. He tells Eilonwy to go on without him. Taran takes himself way seriously, y’all. Instead of leaving him there, Eilonwy sensibly tosses him her bauble so he can look around, and he notes that there is another passageway on his level. Moments later, Eilonwy drops down into the chamber with him. He’s furious at her and goes on a rant, calling her addlepated and foolish, but she just smiles at him until he runs out of breath, because she is awesome, and then says “if there’s a tunnel, it has to go someplace” and that they should follow it together.
They follow the tunnel until it ends, sealed off with boulders, and then investigate a side passage, which leads them to a chamber full of jewels, weapons and the withered corpses of warriors, encircling a stone slab on which another skeleton lies in state. Taran feels a gust of wind and finds a tunnel in the far wall. He takes a sword from one of the warriors, and he and Eilonwy crawl through the tunnel. They exit to fresh air just in time to find that Spiral Castle is aflame and collapsing. Eilonwy gets stuck in the tunnel, and Taran pulls her free. She thanks him for saving her life, then laughs about how Achren will be furious to find they’ve escaped. Taran somberly says that “if Achren is under those stones, she’ll never punish anyone again.” Eilonwy had gotten stuck in the tunnel because she took the sword and scabbard that the dead king was holding, and it was too big for her to wear at her waist, so she slung it from her shoulder, which sounds really uncomfortable. Taran is surprised that she took the king’s sword, but she simply says “It should be the best one, shouldn’t it?” (So awesome.) They see the shadowy figures of a man and a white horse. Taran cries out “Gwydion!” but, oh snap! It’s not Gwydion at all, but a man Taran’s never seen before. Dun dun DUN!
Another chapter made more compelling by a reading of the story of Dyrnwyn in The Foundling. King Rhitta (the dead king) is a tragic figure, a victim of hubris and paranoia. I also love me a good Eilonwy chapter.
Dang it, now I'm feeling like I should have started with "The Foundling"! (But would that be like starting the Chronicles of Narnia with "The Magician's Nephew"?)
Eilonwy is totally the best thing about this section; all the tunnels and skeletons just didn't do it for me (a little surprising, considering how much I loved "The Goonies")! But things get really good in chapter 9!
Joe, you are my kind of fan.
Lifelong obsession with Eilonwy over here. Are you a reader of fanfic, perchance?
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