Last week for Six Degrees of Kool Books, DJ posted about the famous “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Which, unfortunately, I have never actually read. I have watched the movie (the old one), and I love the story, but haven’t actually gotten around to reading it yet. However, I believe he described the characters in well enough detail for me to draw a connection!
In his post, he talked about a man named Consiel, the companion and servant of the main character who seems to have no cares or concerns other than his master’s success, and a reckless abandon when it comes to endangering himself to protect his master. DJ also mentioned that he provides a bit of comic relief to the story. Well, at first I thought of Samwise Gamgee… but that was too easy, and we’ve already done Lord of the Rings for Six Degrees, so I thought a bit harder and came up with Gurgi from the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.
Gurgi is not human, but some sort of shaggy creature that is best described as a walking bird’s nest. I sort of imagine him a bit like a very long-haired monkey, but more human-like. In The Book of Three, Gurgi happens to fall in with the main character of the series, Taran, who saves his life, and is Taran’s faithful companion for the duration of the story. Gurgi is not the wisest, nor the bravest, nor the most intelligent of beings, but he is loyal to a fault. Despite his main concerns in life being a way to fill his ever-empty stomach and a deep desire to be safe, Gurgi is more than willing to throw himself in harm’s way if it means protecting Taran.
Now, a few of the other characters:
Taran, whom I’ve already mentioned, starts out the series as a young boy (an Assistant Pig-Keeper) longing for adventure and glory. Although he lives under the care of one of the most powerful men (Dalben is never really defined in the story, but he is definitely wizard material) in the land, he finds his existence to be boring and wholly lacking in enough excitement for a young boy on the verge (he believes) of becoming a man.
The Princess Eilonwy is another main character that crosses Taran’s path and becomes a dear friend. Eilonwy is heir to a powerful magic of her own, though few remain in the land who can teach her how to use this power. In any case, she takes her heritage rather lightly and is more than a match for Taran in her desire for adventure, excitement, and glory. Although she has a lot of very typical girly mood swings and antics, she is also perfectly at home riding a horse, swinging a sword, and sleeping on the ground. She is constantly coming up with entertaining similes and idioms to describe things that are completely her own.
Then there is Flewder Flamm, possibly my favorite character in the series. Although he poses as a wandering minstrel, Flewder Flamm is by rights a King in his own country. However, his nation does fairly well without him, so he often has the freedom to roam about the countryside with his rather peculiar harp – an instrument that is capable of sounding as beautiful as though it were enchanted, but whose strings have a tendency to break when (as oft is the case) Flewder starts to wax inaccurate about events or stretch the truth a bit. Although he is prone to exaggeration, there is no malice in Flewder Flamm, and when the chips are down, he truly is a fierce warrior who can hold his own in a fight.
Outside of the companions, but still part of most of the stories, is Gwydion, the rightful heir to Prydain. He is a warrior-prince, and the man Taran looks up to most in all the world. Although he is the valiant, wandering hero of the story, I never really found Gwydion to be all that compelling, except that he is someone Taran holds in great esteem. Probably this is because Gwydion is not a character we follow much in the story, except for where his path intersects with Taran’s.
There are many other characters that show up here and there, some appear in more than one book, like Rhun, the impetuous prince who is a dreamer, but too scatter-brained to stick with any particular plan long enough to see it completed. Though he is clumsy and impulsive, he is no coward. And, eventually, he is exceedingly honest with himself about his own shortcomings.
Dalben, whom I’ve already mentioned, raises Taran on his simple farm and tries to teach him to be a responsible, honorable, integrity-filled man. Dalben’s story is quite mysterious and the reader never quite gets a handle on exactly who or what Dalben is… but he is quite wise, knowledgable, and every bit as powerful as you hope he is.
There are lots of other characters, but those are the main ones. Hopefully there’s something in there that sparks ideas.
Do any of these characters remind you of characters in other books, dear Reader? Which ones? Feel free to tell me in the comments.
Or please feel free to join in our Six Degrees of Kool Books game and write about your answer in a blog post of your own! Just make sure you link back to this post when you do! And let me know about your post so I can come read it and possibly learn about a new favorite book!