The Mabinogion and The Chronicles of Prydain

Most fantasy books draw upon myths and legends in some way or another, even if only in their use of such fantastical creatures as dragons and elves. Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain is one such series, based on the Welsh legends in The Mabinogion.

While the plots of his Chronicles are original, Alexander draws heavily on his sources for most of his characters and locations. Prydain itself is modeled after his memories of Wales when he served there during World War II. He described Prydain as being Wales “more as it never was” than an actual representation of the country.

Of the main human characters in the series, only Eilonwy and Taran are not directly based on chararacters from Welsh legends, although they both embody characteristics of many heroes and heroines in The Mabinogion.

The most evident example of this is in one of Taran’s mentors, the prince Gwydion. In both The Chronicles of Prydain and The Mabinogion, Gwydion is a relative of King Math, son of Mathonwy, and possesses some powers of enchantment. Unlike Alexander’s heroic interpretation of the character, the Gwydion of Welsh mythology is somewhat of a troublemaker.

This article originally appeared 14 January 2012 on

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