For most people, THE BOOK OF THREE represents their first entry into Prydain. Those my age may have a different tale. Their first time in Prydain may have been the Disney movie, THE BLACK CAULDRON. However, Now, I am finding no reference to it, but I know I had it. I never saw the Disney movie, but I clearly recall the novel.
With a series one loves so much, it is difficult to be objective about adaptations. Slight variations from the source can lead to major changes in the resolution. This graphic novel was no different. It combined the plot of the first two books, eliminated major characters, added others, and left little room for a sequel using the remaining books. For example, it had no Gwydion, no Achren, and no Arwan Death Lord. So, many differences, but let’s try to examine the novel on its own not compared to the source. (I also had the computer game of the movie for my Tandy 1000 EX. It followed the graphic novel fairly closely, at least as far as I managed to make it in the game.)
I enjoyed the graphic novel very much. It was an excellent adventure in its own right. It had Taran going through the beginning of his coming-of-age journey and meeting the companions.
It was also darker than any Disney work I’d seen then and almost any since. The tone was darker than the Alexander books, also. In it, the Horned King had a toady and sought the Black Cauldron to make cauldron-born warriors.
The cauldron was hidden by the three witches, and the companions tried to destroy it. They could not, it could only be stopped (not destroyed) by a living person entering it. After the Horned King stole the cauldron from them, Gurgi jumped in. The over-reacting cauldron exploded, killing the Horned King, his forming army, and the castle.
The companions barely survived and asked the witches to bring back Doli. After Fflewdurr challenges their power, they do so.
The graphic novel isn’t as good as the novel, but still has the lessons we expect from Alexander.
In this novel, Taran trades away the magical sword (never named to my memory but obviously Dyrwyn), which he sees as his only chance for heroism, for the cauldron. Taran knows that more important than his dream is the continued life of the kingdom. What Taran never realizes is that his sacrifice is what makes him a hero.
Gurgi also makes a sacrifice. He doesn’t want kind, gentle master to die. Gurgi does not know that he will be brought back.