Pardon me for forgetting about this series. No excuse, just a bad fail of mine.
TARAN WANDERER, the fourth book in Prydain, begins with Taran our orphaned hero of unknown parentage longing to know who he is. From the beginning, he has wanted to be more than a pig keeper, but that desire always came from his own ego. He wanted fame and glory. Oh, give that boy a sword, and he would take down any invading war lord! So he thought.
Taran has matured since we first saw him practicing with Coll. He sees that one does not simply decide to be a hero. However, he still isn’t satisfied with having no station in life, but the reason is better. He wants to ask the Princess Eilonwy for her hand in marriage when she returns from her tutoring in all things ladylike. For our talkative tomboy, that’s a fate worse than… well not death, but certainly a very bad sickness.
He sets out not for high adventure but merely for information. Even though he thinks he is alone in the world and needs to do this on his own, loyal, faithful Gurgi goes with him.
The theme of this one is very easy to perceive. Alexander doesn’t see any reason to bury his ideas. However, simple themes still run deep. Taran’s search for himself shows a question all of us must face–who am I to be? Taran believes he cannot go forward in life without knowing where he started. He searches all over Prydain for word of his parents, more specifically, word of parents who lost a boy years ago.
When his search comes up empty, Taran also gives up on Eilonwy. He decides if he can’t know where he came from, he can determine where he will go. Taran still wants to be more than an assistant pig keeper. After apprenticing to several trades, he finds he either has no talent for the ones he wants to do or ability at trades which he doesn’t want to continue in.
Taran learns numerous small lessons along the way, like a good definition of luck is simply noticing items around you and how they might be used. The most important lesson, though, ties back into the main theme. Taran learns that he doesn’t need to know where he came from to decide where to go with his life. He only needs to know who he is right now to decide who he will become.
Like so much of the Chronicles, that’s a lesson we all need to learn. Choices you make right now determine who you will be in five years.
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