This fic was inspired by two things:
One: by the fic Trying Much, Loving More, an excellent read by author LMSharp, in which she retells the events in The Book of Three from the various viewpoints of every character except Taran. I was so intrigued by the idea that it spawned a desire to do something similar. It struck me as a fascinating way to do a character study, in that the events are already plotted for us, so that burden is removed and we are free to simply get inside heads beyond the POV the story was originally written in. In the case of the fic mentioned, the author's intent was to look at Taran through the eyes of other characters to see what it was about him that made such a hodge-podge mix of individuals place their trust in his amateur leadership. A laudable project - but this is where I diverge to my second inspiration.
Two: a conversation I had with a reviewer of The Castle of Llyr on amazon, whose review, though favorable toward the Prydain series in general, was very critical of the portrayal of Eilonwy as the series went on. Her accusation was that the princess's feisty spirit and independence were gradually toned down until, by the end of The High King, she was content to fill the stereotypical female role, forsaking her own identity, and the power and privilege of her birthright to fall into submission to her One True Love and live happily, vaguely, ever after. While I disagreed with the premise, I did find myself mulling over several of the reviewer's key points. It made me realize that, too often in my own fic, I have treated Eilonwy as half of a pairing rather than as a fully-recognized individual - unavoidable, perhaps, given my literary crush on Taran. Much as I adore him, however, it is Eilonwy as a character that has always had my heart, and I decided that hers was a story that, on its own, deserved to be told. While I played with the concept a bit in my Princess Diaries, and may one day return to that phase of her life, it made sense to me to start at the beginning of the series. Technically I suppose I could have gone back even further, but for storytelling purposes, the most crucial part of her life begins the day she escapes from Spiral Castle, so that is where I begin.
A note on canon: This fic could be considered, depending on how much of a stickler you are, a bit alternate, or, perhaps, parallel universe. I have discovered that my personal approach to canon is that I think of the characters and events as "real", as though they were not created so much as they were recorded by the original author. I hope this does no disrespect to the beloved author of these books - though actually, I fancy most authors would say they feel the same way about their works. This philosophy affects my writing in subtle ways - the most noticeable being in my handling of dialog, which I do not always copy verbatim from the original. I frequently rearrange, truncate, or make small additions that feel right to me. My goal is to do it in such a subtle way that unless you have the book open in front of you for comparison, you usually will not even notice the differences. I just want to make the disclaimer now, so that I don't get readers pointing out, "he never said that!" or "I don't remember this exchange".
So, without further ado...
This is Eilonwy's story. In my words.