Magg (or Chief Steward Magg) is a character in Lloyd Alexander's fantasy Chronicles of Prydain book series. He appears as the secondary villain in the third novel of the series, The Castle of Llyr. He also makes an appearance in the fifth and final novel, The High King.
Through hard work, Magg has become a reasonably respected man on the Isle of Mona. However, he is also quite vain and power hungry. He wears flashy clothes: "He wore one of the finest cloaks Taran had ever seen, its rich embroidery almost surpassing King Rhuddlum's garment." Magg is tagged for a villain when he is described as "spider-like" in his movements and he soon embodies the traits of a traitor concerned only with his own comfort and glory. As the stories progress, he becomes more and more obsessed with obtaining power and even seems to descend into madness. He is prone to gleefully call himself "King Magg" and "Magg the Magnificent", and eventually, "Magg Death-Lord" at seeming times of triumph. Unlike so many characters in Alexander's works, he does not show balanced sides but is always a villain.
The Castle of Llyr
Magg is the Chief Steward of the royal family on the Isle of Mona, Eilonwy's ancestral land. However, Magg (because of his insatiable need for power) allies with the evil sorceress Achren, and they plan to kidnap Princess Eilonwy. If Achren's plan succeeds, she will rule Prydain through Eilonwy and the enchantments of Llyr; and she will reward Magg by making him king of Mona.
Magg abducts Eilonwy and takes her to Caer Colur, the ancestral home of Llyr. Ultimately, Achren's plans are foiled by Taran, Eilonwy and the companions, and Achren's power is destroyed. When Magg is scorned by Achren (even in her defeat), he seeks revenge by flooding Caer Colur to drown Achren and the companions. He escapes at the end of the novel.
The High King
Magg reappears in The High King as a servant and ally of Arawn, aiding him in stealing the sword Dyrnwyn. With Arawn's forces, he briefly takes control of Caer Cadarn, where he boasts that Arawn has promised he will one day wear the Iron Crown of Annuvin and thus rule in the Death Lord's stead.
Eilonwy, Fflewddur, and Rhun recapture Caer Cadarn and rescue Taran and Gwydion from Magg's clutches. Magg slips away again. On the journey, he and his war band happen upon his old mistress, Achren. Magg is again vengeful, attacking Achren and leaving her for dead.
When Annuvin is about to fall to the Sons of Don, Arawn deserts his throne room, leaving behind the Iron Crown of Annuvin. Magg finds the crown and, in his madness, claims it as his own. He sets it upon his head; however, the crown can be worn only by someone with authority and instead, it begins to glow until white-hot, killing Magg as it burns into his head. He may realise in his last moments that Arawn has ultimately played him for a fool.
Sources and References
- Alexander, Lloyd, The Castle of Llyr, Holt, 1966. p. 15
Tunnell, Michael O., The Prydain Companion, Holt, 1989. p. 177-9