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4/15 c5 J. Willem
I love it. And I appreciate your thought and sensitivity with regards to Eilonwy's assault. Really, I'm glad that you added a note explaining her thoughts. Far too many woman have had to experience such horrible things, and worse. Not one of them should have to feel "oversensitive" for having been the victim to such heinous and atrocious acts. Each deserves all the support and strength that we can offer. Each deserves healing.
4/15 c4 J. Willem
Nailed it. Dear Fflewder. And yet, he doesn't know yet... I think there must be room for some sadness in the Summer Country. For surely once there, Fflewder's thought would inevitably flicker to Taran and Eilonwy, and loving them as he does, he would surely feel some heartache at their absence, and eventually at their passing.

He wouldn't dwell on it, and you're right that his optimism wouldn't allow him to not be grateful for the time he was able to share with them before composing his next song. But I think there would always be a bit of an un-fillable hole in his heart where Taran and Eilonwy should be.
4/15 c3 J. Willem
Oh MAN! I love this! You nailed Gurgi's perspective, and I love the use of his smell to show intangibles (emotions/magic/etc...). I am so excited for him to go to the Summer Country. He's going to be so happy there :)

I agree that finding a balance between Gurgi's two natures has to be tricky. Don't apologize for the sadness. I once heard that "A heart that hurts is a heart that works". And having a heart that works is very important indeed. Life is more than laughter, and part of it's beauty comes from things that make us sad.
5/3/2020 c5 2Skyboy91
Again Wow - this is such a thought-provoking chapter, you write about PTSD like someone who has been there. I guess this piece points out the stark contrast between LA’s more or less fairy tale ending, keeping in mind that it was written for the young, and the reality of dealing with the aftermath of war. Of course LA does deal with that in his own way, but without taking a more adult look at it, as this chapter does.

I’m glad the couple had this discussion here – it’s so much more realistic than the little we are given in THK. The thoughts of just abandoning their home and their country, the realities of war, Eilonwy’s terrible brush with extreme violence and violation, which she is yet to share with him (again probably very realistic) - Taran’s misgivings, his musing on the humanity of his enemies, maybe some of them were not so different from himself – it all strikes close to home, and rings very true. And the thought that they should all just sail happily off to a paradise, Tra La La, and leave a war ravished country to rebuild itself – I guess Taran was already having second thoughts, but I’m glad Eilonwy had the same thoughts, and helped put those thoughts into words, as she usually does. Maybe knowing that Eilonwy actually agreed with him, and it was a choice they more or less made together, made it a little easier for him. Fortunately, things worked out better for the two of them.

Great chapter - such mature, insightful writing. I guess this kind of writing is what makes me interested in Prydain fan fiction, I find it thought provoking to see these situations from a more adult perspective. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on what an additional chapter would add to this story.
4/30/2020 c4 Skyboy91
“A Fflam is deep-thinking and philosophical!”

There’s just no end to how a Fflamm can surprise you. First, I really see how Zosia took some inspiration from your Fflewddur portrayel here for her own writing, and a few plot points as well. Her story really choked me up at some points, maybe especially the death of Glyn. And I know she loved the story of Eleri also…she is the one who told me I should read this story.

Even as a kid I often wondered how Fflewddur did out on his own, without someone to be theatrical for, and what a lonely life it would have been in many ways. Still, it was what he wanted. You’ve captured a side of him here that was never really well captured in the books...he was a little bipolar, maybe? I’m sure Llyan was a huge amount of company for him, after she came into his life.

Eleri sounds exactly like the kind of woman that would capture Fflewddur’s imagination…were there gypsies in Wales in Medieval times? I know that the Scots describe rovers, migrant farm workers basically, who used to roam the countryside, and there were and are a lot of folk songs written about them, from Robert Burns on down, and probably before. So maybe that is more of what you had in mind here, vs. ethnic gypsies. Anyway, I’m sorry their love story didn’t work out, she would have been so perfect for him, except for the being a queen part. But maybe that would have made a great story…maybe she would have made a interesting queen, as long as it was part time, Haha.

I like how Fflewddur is discreet enough to leave Taran and Eilonwy alone at this point…I remember he was their first cheerleader - in CoL, where he mused to Taran that he hoped if Eilonwy was going to marry anyone, it would be him. And Fflewddur musing about eternity certainly is interesting…will it be overcrowded? Will it be just one endless day? I guess that’s something we’ve all thought about on occasion, whether you believe in some sort of heaven or not. We’ve never had the option of taking a sea voyage to get to heaven, it’s a bit more difficult path in Christianity, hehe. I’ve often thought about the parallels between the Summer Country and Valinor in Tolkien, I assume they come from the same mythological roots, the thought that there was something magical and eternal about “the West,” some place just out of reach, just over the horizon, like the end of the rainbow. So I guess that puts the Sons of Don in the position of the Elves of Middle-Earth…you’ve probably read more of this mythology than I have.

I figure that Gwydion wasn’t that concerned about a lack of an heir because for a long time he, along with Dallben, had hoped that Taran would fill that role. Of course, Fflewddur doesn’t know that part of the story yet.

All in All, I just have to say that I really like this more grown-up take on Fflewddur, as a little less larger-than-life comic relief, and a little more thoughtful and philosophical. And I do like the idea that I discussed with Zosia – that something very plausible happened that made it possible for him to stay in Prydain - and he and Llyan turned around and got off the boat. I wouldn’t mind if Gurgi did that too. I don’t think the Summer Country is for everyone.
4/29/2020 c3 Skyboy91
This is so creative! I would never have thought to use all lower case to capture Gurgi’s stream of consciousness, but it works perfectly. I actually love how Gurgi lives “in the now” as is shown here - not really thinking that much about the future or the past. When people ask me why I love flying so much, I usually respond that it’s the only activity that I am really familiar with – besides playing some sports perhaps – when I am living totally in the present. Especially when it comes to instrument flying (i.e., in the clouds) it’s a mental activity that usually requires your full attention, and demands that you be in the here and now, not really thinking about the future, or the past. And that is very relaxing and liberating at times.

I love how Gurgi uses his nose, like a wolfhound of course, and can smell fear, or happiness, or sadness, or joy, or togetherness, or worriedness. And I love his views on wisdom…it might come later, but crunchings are something that might come now, hehe.

I love how he is with the children, and how they are with him. That kind of acceptance is probably something he has never known, and I really hope there are children in the Summer Country. I suppose he has to make the voyage, I assume there is an element of magic in Gurgi, given his unusual makeup, although I don’t think that is ever stated. But the thought of him leaving Taran and Eilonwy makes me so sad. The thought of “gaining wisdom” to me seems like a poor exchange, and in my mind that is not the right word to use anyway, if LA really meant intelligence…I’ve often felt that human beings are extremely clever, but not very wise. So I understand completely the melancholy you felt writing this, it’s hard not to share it. The feeling of this part of the book, and your expansion of it here, is like a beautiful fall day, but with a touch winter coming on, that gives you a shiver.

It’s like LA was saying to all of his young readers at the end: “OK I hope you enjoyed the story, but playtime is over! Magic time is ending, reality is out there waiting for you, so grow up and deal with it, please…I love you all, but time to grow up!”

So, thank you for so often taking me back to magic time. That’s quite a gift.
4/27/2020 c2 Skyboy91
Oh wow… I didn’t really know what to expect with this chapter, most of your writing that I have read so far has been from a romantically inclined couple’s point of view, and not that I had low expectations, I just thought a chapter from the point of view of a four-hundred-year-old man might be more of a stretch for you. And as usual, you proved me wrong. I actually can’t think of any section of the chronicles that portrays Dallben with as much insight as you showed here. And you didn’t just get inside the mind of any old enchanter – not Gandalf, or Merlin, but Dallben, with his own distinct personality, and you showed your mastery of it. To say that I am impressed is such an understatement.

You did a wonderful job of showing Dallben’s inherent goodness and compassion - the dragon egg incident is inspired, how did you come up with something so adorable? - but those qualities in him are forced to normally be at a distance from the rest of humanity, by the realities of his situation, his enchantment, and his detached intellect. I appreciated how you mentioned Coll as the father figure, and Dallben’s envy of him, and the normal human interaction Coll and Taran normally shared that he could not completely be a part of. I wonder why the Three O’s chose him (I can’t fully accept that it was just an accident that Dallben popped those burned fingers covered with potion into his mouth) and if even they fully understood what doom they were putting on him. Even now, after an over-elongated life, he must go the summer country and live forever as an ancient and withered man (I guess he will get a lot of meditation in) like butter stretched over too much bread, as Bilbo said. It doesn’t sound like a very wonderful fate to me, but he will bear it with his usual intellect and resolve.

And he had to live some 360 years before Taran came into his life, and his purpose came close to being fulfilled. How did he manage it without dashing his head against a wall? The Three O’s chose well, as well as Taran himself was chosen. They chose a man with the underlying character that would make him capable not only of absorbing what the wisdom potion had to offer, and choosing the Book of Three over the other choices (I wonder if the Book itself predicted that), but with the steel and determination to live a life of stark solitude, in service of an end goal that stretched further than he could ever imagine into the future. So yes he is aloof and in some ways dispassionate, but not from his underlying wholesome character, but in service to an ideal and a goal that was necessary for the survival of Prydain (and humanity itself, within the scope of the chronicles).

The only thing I will say here that might be to some extent missing, is that he does not seem to anticipate Eilonwy’s choice, or consider that such a choice might occur. Maybe there is a reason, and I know from the book that he did not want to even tell Eilonwy that she had a choice, but for that question to come from her. And maybe Eilonwy’s own enchanted background made it impossible even for The Book of Three to predict what might happen on that front.

This is a poor attempt to pay homage to what you did here, but as much as anything you have written that I have read, this showed me your range and what you are capable of. You have my respect and admiration, you are indeed a writer.
4/26/2020 c1 Skyboy91
To warm up for this, I re-read the last couple of chapters of THK, just to put myself in the right frame of mind.

In the first part of the chapter, you’ve taken all the pathos and melancholy of Taran’s “last night” in Prydain, pulled it back to that evening, expanded it, and made it even more achingly beautiful, full of longing and sadness, than LA ever could have. I suppose we’ve all had to leave a place that we loved, but the first ones probably hit us the hardest. For me, the first was leaving a town, place and house that I loved at the age of six for a place that I didn’t know and had a much harder time fitting in, and wondering why I couldn’t go back the place and friends that I loved, and the second, at the age of 18, leaving the old farm house I grew up in, the familiar trees and fields, sights and smells, to go off to college, knowing I would never really return, and nothing would ever be the same.

And the second part of the chapter, so full of utter joy that the two can finally be one, a young couple with one heart and one mind, and everything can be forgotten in the bliss of each other, and still making new discoveries, like the thin line between anger and passion. But underlying that, the inescapable sense of duty that is in the back of Taran’s mind is already pressing itself forward, with the utter dread of what he might have to do tomorrow, and Eilonwy already feels it. It’s just heart rending. Your writing can be so completely evocative and beautiful.
3/15/2019 c2 Suvon
Oh, well done! I am new to this inexplicable thing called "fanfiction" and when I started talking to my niece about it and asking questions, she was over the moon that I was interested in it, if only in reading it. At this point, I wouldn't dare write fanfiction about Prydain. I am too close to it, even after all these years. But you, my dear, have captured it so well! I am still working my way through Sunrise, which I love. my No disrespect meant by "working" my way through. Laughing and crying my way through is more like it.

Reading about Taran from Dallben's point of view is fascinating. Your grasp of Taran as a little child is on the mark. I, like Dallben, have never had children, though I was married once … I remember my niece being convinced that she rode a unicorn one night, and only years later, finally admitting that it was probably a dream.

Your description is close to poetry and very vivid. Having tried and failed as a visual artist, I am obviously very visually oriented. Sometimes I have to go back and reread your descriptions, not because they don't make sense, it's that I've never used my own words in quite that way. I have been a prose writer, although I haven't written much for general consumption in years.

I am very picky about grammar and the like, and sometimes I find myself editing other people's published work as I read it. It sometimes gets so bad that I can't finish reading a book. I am a born editor, I think. (Sigh.) But of course, this is more about me than your piece here.

One additional thought. I find myself seriously identifying with Dallben here, having to be "wrested into the present". Imagine, me comparing myself in any way to Dallben!

Keep up the good work! As I think I remember Mr. Alexander writing once, (and I paraphrase), I promise to keep reading more if you promise to keep on writing more. Oh, BTW is my pseudonym okay?
1/6/2019 c5 18DianaChaseKirkland
So...I've read several of your stories now, currently reading Princess Diaries; and I'm hardly an expert, with me being a week-old follower of Chronicles of Prydain, but I really need to say that your stories are some of my favorites.

Your style has, to me, so many elements of that simple elegance with which Lloyd Alexander seemed to just smoothly and effortlessly slide through the series — I know that he didn't, but you get it :p — and you have beautifully captured the essence of these great characters. In the case of this particular story, I think you did a very good job for Gurgi, but the simple charm of that creature is truly something else.

Thank you so much for your hardwork, and for all these wonderful stories that have allowed me to revisit Prydain after finishing the books — and not quite knowing what to do with myself for a good couple hours afterwards.
9/4/2018 c1 mnx59
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7/10/2017 c5 2Mantis FA
It does seem very right to me that Eilonwy should also feel ambivalent about leaving Prydain behind, even if a lot more of her memories of it than Taran's are unhappy ones. There's also one thought regarding her nightmares that doesn't seem to occur to her here, but will no doubt be a comfort in the future: at least when she wakes up from one after this night, she won't be alone.
7/10/2017 c4 Mantis FA
I don't think it had occurred to me that Fflewddur might have ADHD, but the way you describe his difficulty with both running a kingdom and completing the studies necessary for recognition as a bard sounds very much like that. It also makes sense to me that he would have been the younger son, never meant to be the heir to the throne. His love story with Eleri is very touching, even told so briefly; one hopes she understood that he wouldn't ask her to marry him because he knew she'd be miserable living a settled life in a castle even part-time, and not because a Rover girl wasn't a fit consort for a king.

His philosophical musings are interesting, too; it's tricky trying to imagine eternity in a way that doesn't start to sound awfully dull after a depressingly short time, not to mention the problem of unlimited population growth if people continue to be born but nobody dies. It's also sad in the same way that Gurgi's is, since at this point Fflewddur thinks that Taran and Eilonwy will be coming with them.
7/9/2017 c3 Mantis FA
And speaking of difficult points of view to capture, this is *amazing.* This isn't a moment when Gurgi needs to focus and be clever, so I think it makes sense that his carefree canine nature would dominate on this particular evening. I see what you mean about melancholy - it sounds like the mother whose campsite Gurgi visited was Llonio's widow. Also, even if becoming fully sapient in the Summer Country means that Gurgi won't need Taran as he has before, you just know he'll still miss his Master the most of any of the friends who sail away into the west.
7/9/2017 c2 Mantis FA
The view of Taran through Dallben's eyes is illuminating. His confidence that Taran will make the right choice, and the niggling sliver of doubt that maybe he was wrong... and then the greater uncertainty about Eilonwy's choice, or whether she'll have the presence of mind to ask if she has one. You did a good job of getting into his head; I think that his would be one of the hardest points of view in Prydain to write from.
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