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5/7 c1 J. Willem
Oh man. I.. I just...

What a sweet, beautiful, poignant, tender vignette. I love this so much. So much. Coll is the epitome of the undersung hero, quietly working in the background, making heart-breaking sacrifices with nary a murmur, and never seeking the lime-light. I think of all the beloved friends we lost in The High King, losing our beloved grower of turnips cut the most deeply for me. Taran could not have asked for a better father-figure. Thank you for also including a little back-history; I love the idea that Coll was married once, and I'm sure the memory of his departed sweetheart influenced how he helped raise Taran, and for the short while she was with them, Eilonwy. Beautifully done. I, too, wish that they could've had a few years of peace before the storm.
2/22 c1 Honzinator
You do domestic as few can, appreciating the male contribution to it, even. It's lovely.
7/16/2018 c1 brianmclyr
yep. the taran/thunder is nice bonus, although as this all takes place in northwest Wales shouldn't Coll have been in on it? /smile..not a critique, not at all, just that realistic observation that has nothing to do with YOUR story
thanks again
7/17/2017 c1 2Mantis FA
I like the idea of Coll having been married. It adds depth to the character, and a bachelor farmer in a setting like Prydain seems more improbable than a widower who loved his dead wife too much ever to seek another. His ambivalence about using the cradle for Taran and giving Rhian's clothing to Eilonwy adds a certain bittersweetness to his recollections here, and of course that mood is also present in the way the story fits into Alexander's canon: we know that the storm on the horizon will break over Caer Dallben within a quarter hour of Taran's return and reunion with Eilonwy, and that Coll himself will not live to see them wed. Of course, if they had been granted the few years of peace for which Coll hopes here, it might well have been harder for Taran and Eilonwy both to participate in the final conflict against Annuvin, because it's likely they would have had one or more young children to look after.

The picture of Eilonwy's years at Caer Dallben and the growing affection between her and Taran as seen through Coll's eyes is lovely. The way she takes to the hard work involved in running a farm underscores just how miserable her life at Spiral Castle was, and her desire to put it behind her and live a completely different kind of life. The effect of her presence on Taran also rings very true - sharing her delight in things he's always taken for granted, and growing more diligent at his work out of a desire to shine in her eyes. Of course, Eilonwy wasn't the only new resident of Caer Dallben at the end of TBo3, and I'd imagine that the tasks of forging horseshoes and mending tack would become somewhat more appealing once there were actual horses there to use them.

I mentioned "The True Enchanter" and Eilonwy not knowing about her mother's elopement and exile in connection with "Wistful;" now it occurs to me that if *Taran* knew that Eilonwy's mother had defied her grandmother to marry a "conjurer of cheap tricks" (as Gandalf might put it), he might have been less concerned about his parentage in regard to asking her to marry him. I think he still would have wanted to know badly enough for his own sake to undertake the journey seen in "Taran Wanderer," but he might have felt less ashamed to believe that Craddoc was his father, and not assumed that being a poor shepherd's son meant he had to give up his hope of marrying the princess.
4/27/2017 c1 7Elen-Di
Beautifully written. i love getting Coll's perspective here, and your take on Taran's infancy. :) I HAD been wondering what his name means, so thank you!
2/14/2014 c1 Mestra
I love that you wrote this from Coll's point of view. He is a sadly underappreciated character. It offers a wonderful perspective on Taran's childhood, Eilonwy's time at Caer Dallben, and Coll's life, all with lovely characterizations of everyone. So well done.
12/16/2013 c1 26crankyman7
I'm not sure what to say, beyond the fact that I love it, and that you clearly love and appreciate these characters.

Just let the favorite do the talking, I guess.
1/4/2012 c1 MedwynsValley81
I really enjoyed reading this story! You do a wonderful job of capturing Coll. He is one of my favorite characters. I love the vicarious Taran- Eilonwy! Coll must have seen them falling in love from their early years in Caer Dallben, and have anticipated their homecomings at the beginning of "The High King" just as you described. I agree that it would have been nice for Taran and Eilonwy to have had some happy romantic times together before the whirlwind events of the last book, living peacefully at the little farm with Coll and Dallben.
11/26/2008 c1 Lealfaithful
i agree! it was hell at The High King and I was screaming at the book when Coll died. anywho great story!
5/13/2008 c1 15Allen Skylark
(gasps)you have captured my heart with this one, my love. Personally I always thought the reason Dallben sent eilonwy to Mona was - aside from the fact that she is of noble birth and deserves a higher education than can be given in a farm - to breed a ruler out of the girl since there was a possibility this would become so, and this is shown in the ending where Taran, before stepping out of the threshold as king, turns back around momentarily with the worry that he is too reckless for rulership, and Eilonwy consoles this fear by telling him if ever he has trouble in matters of state, she will give him her advise. true, both Taran and Eilonwy were a big IF, but a wise man is always prepared. but the extra you proposed here with her presence dulling his wits (lol)distracting him (because of puberty?) was an awesome touch, never would have thought it.

I loved this, "There was something that felt whole and complete about the house when a girl was in it. He was glad she was there, for all their sakes, even though he knew it was primarily for Taran that Dallben let her stay." I could just imagine taran belching, years of habit, and eilonwy nagging at him for his lack of manners lol cute.

Oh, I suck at reviews, all I know is I love the way you portrayed the characters' interactions during their years in the farm.

I liked that you mention Coll's fatherly love for Taran, though we all know it, it's to be expected, Alexander never gave that sort of depth in their guardian/ward connection between them until, perhaps, Coll died. here it's alot more father/son with Coll's special care for Taran's feelings and the loneliness he feels after he's gone. it's totally how i've imagined - or perhaps prefered it. Perhaps i feel so strongly about it because of my own lack of father/child connection with my old man, added with the prydain chronicals being a passion of mine since preteen years, I have always focused on Coll and Taran's relationship. In any case, I LOVED it, and I'm truly happy to have read this.

My favorite part was when Dallben first came with the baby, Coll's pain and his decision to love the foundling initiated by his wife's memory - that almost broke my heart if I wasn't so proud...i stared at the screen, eyes watering, eyebrows knitted together, chest aching - "wtf kind of sissy am I?" ahem, i straightened and carried on more dignified...until I came to this: "But the child, although clearly startled, clapped his hands and squealed delightedly as though he thought they’d caused the phenomenon for his own amusement."

My own imagination led me to a scenerio where Dallben finds him during a thunder storm thus the name - but this was - Wow!- funny, delightful; I was so charmed I laughed out loud, once again leaning into the screen - ahem - then i took mind of my composure. I suppose that's it- I lost myself with the story, completely immersed in the enchantment of the story with a dopey look on my face - you did it. one of you best works in MY opinion. this one truly affected me, my love. Thank you!
9/13/2007 c1 merln
Wise but not preachy, which is something I appreciate greatly about your writing. Again, it fits so well that it seems to have grown there naturally... Sparkling and deep.
8/4/2007 c1 19Oboe-Wan
This is an absolutely lovely story.

I love the interactions between Coll and Dallben the whole way through. You handle their characterizations wonderfully. The opening scene, to begin with is full of such splendid little details of everyday life at Caer Dallben. Hah, the image of Coll mending tack "in an oily heap" at the dinner table is both a little horrifying and completely accurate - the kind of thing my dad would totally do if my mom would let him get away with it. I also love the fact that you have Coll refer to Taran just as "the boy" here. It's so sweet and fitting. And it's so amusing to see Coll just assuming that Taran and Eilonwy are going to be getting married right away, completely ignoring the matters of nobility and birth that weigh so heavily on Taran. Aw, if only...

I also really like that you acknowledge the weird awkwardness of Achren living in Caer Dallben. Darn creepy sorceress woman.

All of Coll's memories of his late wife are so sweetly portrayed. She seems like such an interesting person, and such a good match for our dear Coll! I was especially touched by his thinking that she would have been so much help in dealing with Eilonwy. I rather think that Eilonwy needs that sort of practical feminine influence, rather than what she's getting from the ladies of the court at Mona. Clearly Eilonwy has no use for the trappings of nobility, but it certainly couldn't hurt her to have a female role model whom she would respect. Really, throwing dishes at people is an unwholesome and unattractive habit in a princess or a scullery maid.

I also really adore your whole discussion of Eilonwy's influence on Taran. Really insightfully done.

"...Dallben, who had so little sympathy for the pangs of youth that Coll sometimes wondered if he had skipped his own entirely."

- having read "The Foundling", this, of course, makes me giggle.

The scene where Coll tells Taran that Eilonwy is going to Mona is simply beautiful. I love Taran's responses, which are fantastically in character. Silly, darling Taran.

And speaking of whom... the whole scene with Taran's arrival at Caer Dallben is wonderful. The image of Coll holding the baby at arm's length is written was particularly striking, and it made me laugh. I love all the details that you work in - it WOULD be rather difficult to get a cradle down a ladder!

I'm unsure, from the wording, if Rhian had died giving birth or sometime during her pregnancy. It seems strange to me that Coll would speak of the baby as "it" if the baby had been born - even stillborn, you'd known boy or girl, right? Maybe it's easier for him to think of the baby in general terms rather than as a son or daughter that he'd lost.

"He'd spent most of his toddlerhood running around outside stark naked. Coll grinned at the memory."

Oh my! Funny and... well, yes a little horrifying! It can't be that difficult to get the kid some clothes!

And, oh, the lovely image that you end with, of the sunny loft, is also sharp and vivid and beautiful. Fantastic little piece. I don't think I ever would have thought to write from Coll's point of view, and you quite do him justice.
6/28/2007 c1 8Freawaru
yay! I like it! lovely! i can't think of any thing constructive to say! It's amazing!
6/27/2007 c1 1Araminta18
Oh, so cute! I love the insight you give us into Coll. Thanks!
6/25/2007 c1 szydloski
“Any child with such a gift will know it is loved,” she’d said.

At about that point, tears actually came to my eyes. Wonderful job. Excellent use of a frame story. Coll and Dallben were wonderful (and of course, Taran/Eilonwy is always welcome reading material).
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