Great Characters: Llonio Son of Llonwen

“Be that as it may,” answered Llonio, grinning. “If I fret over tomorrow, I’ll have little joy today.”

– Taran Wanderer

One of my favorite characters in the Prydain series is Llonio. I always want to refer to him as a farmer, and he is one, but somehow the label feels woefully lacking for him.

Llonio, his wife Goewin, and their many children live on an odd little farm far from pretty much anybody else. They survive by finding everything they need and making use of everything that they find. Broken horse tack fished out of the river makes new belts for the children and straps for a mill wheel built with stones found in the woods, for example.

This is remarkable enough, but what always endeared Llonio to me is that he takes such pleasure in every find and marvels constantly at the wonder of the world around him and his life. His children have clearly learned this outlook from him as well, which makes their humble home one full of constant joy and wonder. Llonio and his family may live entirely mundane lives, but their world is full of magic and they are able to appriciate it every day.

“Secret?” replied Llonio. “Have you not already guessed? Why my luck’s no greater than yours or any man’s. You need only sharpen your eyes to see your luck when it comes, and sharpen your wits to use what falls into your hands.”

– Taran Wanderer

Taran interprets this lifestyle as one of great luck, but Llonio claims no such powers. He simply makes the best of everything he finds and takes the trouble to look for what he needs. When Taran needs an army to fight with him for Prydain in The High King, Llonio answers the call dressed in makeshift armor of bits of metal sewn to his clothing and a cookpot helmet. Even with so little to protect him, he answers the call for soldiers with a smile. Battles, even those in children’s fantasy novels, are horrible and tragic events, but Llonio keeps his spirit throughout and one can only imagine that it did the men around him great good as well!

I’ve always tried to have a spirit like Llonio’s and to see the wonder in everything around me. I’m not always as good at finding uses for everything that crosses my path, but it is a skill I have a ton of respect for and often envy. The thing I love most about Llonio, however, and what I most try to keep alive in my own life is the joy at every day and every discovery. Llonio is not decieving himself about anything, yet he can find the pleasure, wonder, and excitment in every moment. I imagine he has times when that’s difficult even for him, but he’s clearly made it a priority and always returns to it.

His family is truly blessed to have him and the effect he has on Taran at this crutial time in the story can not be undervalued (indeed, Taran first meets Llonio when his morale is probably at the lowest it ever is in the entire series). Llonio certainly made a significant impact on me when I was a kid reading this book and remains precious to me today. He is one of my favorite parts of the whole series.

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