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From the back cover: Evangeline Walton is the author of Prince of Annwn, The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon and The Island of the Mighty - each a branch of the epic Welsh book of mythology, The Mabinogion. The Saturday Review said about her work: "These books are not only the best fantasies of the 20th century, but also great works of fiction. They are actual retelli From the back cover: Evangeline Walton is the author of Prince of Annwn, The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon and The Island of the Mighty - each a branch of the epic Welsh book of mythology, The Mabinogion. The Saturday Review said about her work: "These books are not only the best fantasies of the 20th century, but also great works of fiction. They are actual retellings of the diverse legends of The Mabinogion in novel form...dealing with Good and Evil...and the nature of love."


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From the back cover: Evangeline Walton is the author of Prince of Annwn, The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon and The Island of the Mighty - each a branch of the epic Welsh book of mythology, The Mabinogion. The Saturday Review said about her work: "These books are not only the best fantasies of the 20th century, but also great works of fiction. They are actual retelli From the back cover: Evangeline Walton is the author of Prince of Annwn, The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon and The Island of the Mighty - each a branch of the epic Welsh book of mythology, The Mabinogion. The Saturday Review said about her work: "These books are not only the best fantasies of the 20th century, but also great works of fiction. They are actual retellings of the diverse legends of The Mabinogion in novel form...dealing with Good and Evil...and the nature of love."

30 review for Prince of Annwn

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Evangeline Walton first wrote the Mabinogion Tetralogy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Only the fourth book in the sequence was published at the time, under the title The Virgin and the Swine. The series was rediscovered in the early 1970s; The Virgin and the Swine was reprinted as The Island of the Mighty, and the other three books saw publication for the first time. Prince of Annwn is the first in the sequence but was the last to be published. It was a nominee for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awa Evangeline Walton first wrote the Mabinogion Tetralogy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Only the fourth book in the sequence was published at the time, under the title The Virgin and the Swine. The series was rediscovered in the early 1970s; The Virgin and the Swine was reprinted as The Island of the Mighty, and the other three books saw publication for the first time. Prince of Annwn is the first in the sequence but was the last to be published. It was a nominee for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 1975. I read it as part of a challenge at Fantasy Literature. The four novels are based upon four related tales from Welsh mythology, known as the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. Prince of Annwn is an adaptation of the first “branch,” “Pwyll Prince of Dyfed.” Walton expands upon the original tale, fleshing out descriptions and journeys and character motivations, but keeps the essential elements of the story and strives for a similar prose. In her own words, “My own method has always been to try to put flesh and blood on the bones of the original myth; I almost never contradict sources, I only add and interpret.” In “Pwyll Prince of Dyfed,” Pwyll has a series of encounters with the uncanny. He meets Arawn — king of Annwn, the land of the dead — and switches places with him for a year. He meets his otherworldly bride, Rhiannon. Then, he and Rhiannon lose their son for a time, and Rhiannon is unjustly blamed for his disappearance until the child is returned. Prince of Annwn includes the first two of these plotlines but not the third. Walton’s Wales is a time and place in flux. The female-centered paganism of the Old Tribes is giving way to the male-centered paganism of the New Tribes. Christianity has not yet arrived but is on the horizon. Pwyll is a man of the New Tribes, typical of his people in some ways and atypical in others. He’s a manly-man; his favorite pursuits are hunting, fighting, and wooing fair women. He firmly believes, too, that men should rule. Yet he loves women and has more respect for them than many of his peers, and questions some of the teachings of the New Tribes’ druids. He’s a sympathetic character, possessing all manner of human weakness but doing his best to live up to his sense of honor. With his internal conflicts and doubts, he makes a great character through which to experience the story and its themes. Prince of Annwn is a good yarn, but it also makes you think. Walton raises a number of questions. Can human belief shape reality? When is innovation beneficial, and when is it destructive? Is death a thing to be feared? How does one know whether one has chosen the right side of a fight? These ideas, and more, are explored through Pwyll’s thoughts and his conversations with others. The writing style is deceptively simple. Walton never takes very long to describe anything, and she doesn’t use a lot of twenty-dollar words. Sometimes the writing seems almost dry, and then suddenly you’ll find yourself reading a passage that, in a few brief sentences, perfectly captures the beauty or dread or wonder of whatever Walton is depicting. Imagery of light and color is particularly well-done. This isn’t heavy prose that feels like a seven-course meal; it’s more reminiscent of the simple fare Pwyll enjoys in Rhiannon’s orchard: a perfect apple and a cup of pure, clear water. --"Pwyll did not want to meet those eyes, but he could not escape them. Through their shining blackness cold seemed to stream through his blood and bones. Knowledge streamed with it, knowledge that he could neither understand nor keep. His brain reeled away from that awful wisdom, that poured into it as into a cup, and overturned it, and was spilled again." --"A woman sat there, and it was from her that the light in that place came. Her body shone like the sun; her one thin garment hid it no more than water would. Her hair shone, it streamed red gold to her noble, high-arched feet, which were tender and rosy white as the apple blossoms. But when Pwyll tried to look at her face, he could not, his eyes fell, so he knew that She was no woman but a Goddess, and that that place lived through the living Glory that was Herself." --"A great road of light cleft the dark sky, fell in purifying brilliance upon the lintel where that monstrous Bird had sat, enthroned. Down that glorious pathway flew three singing birds, and one was white, and one was green, and one was gold as morning." As mentioned above, Walton leaves off the final episode of the story, in which Pwyll and Rhiannon have a son, Pryderi, who goes missing. This makes the ending feel a bit abrupt to a reader familiar with the original, and is my only disappointment in Prince of Annwn. I wanted to see what Walton would do with this part of the story. I wonder if it appears in one of the other three books. I’ll certainly be seeking out the others as soon as possible. Prince of Annwn is an excellent read, whether you’re new to the Mabinogion or already familiar with it. It’s also a valuable piece of fantasy history. I’d been meaning to read it for years, and only regret taking so long to get around to it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Prince of Annwn is the first in a series of retellings of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion. Evangeline Walton wasn't Welsh, but nonetheless she made herself very familiar with the sources, and while she added to the story, there was nothing that I could see that wasn't in the spirit of it. She expanded and humanised the stories of the Mabinogion, giving Pwyll more of a journey and an arc of character growth, and adding a conflict between older faiths and new ones. At times there was a bit of Prince of Annwn is the first in a series of retellings of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion. Evangeline Walton wasn't Welsh, but nonetheless she made herself very familiar with the sources, and while she added to the story, there was nothing that I could see that wasn't in the spirit of it. She expanded and humanised the stories of the Mabinogion, giving Pwyll more of a journey and an arc of character growth, and adding a conflict between older faiths and new ones. At times there was a bit of endorsement of the 'Universal Spirit' idea: "In essence all Gods are the same, and one; but few mortals have glimpsed that Untellable Glory, and no human mind may hold it." Which, given that I'm a Unitarian Universalist, appeals to me. Evangeline Walton's prose is clear and easy to read, and while at times there's a touch of the archaic about the phrasing and such, it doesn't get ridiculous or bogged down in it, and sometimes Pwyll's thoughts are refreshingly modern and direct. There are some beautiful passages, too. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the tetralogy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    This may be the most mythical of the Mabinogion, with a story about a Welsh prince exchanging places with Arawn, god of the underworld. He discovers Arawn was kind of hoping he'd defeat an invading foreign god, Havgan, while he's there, since Arawn couldn't do it the first time around. If you were wondering whether Pwyll manages to defeat Havgan, I... won't spoil it for you that he does, but I will just say it's more a question of what Pwyll has to sacrifice in order to do so ;) The second part o This may be the most mythical of the Mabinogion, with a story about a Welsh prince exchanging places with Arawn, god of the underworld. He discovers Arawn was kind of hoping he'd defeat an invading foreign god, Havgan, while he's there, since Arawn couldn't do it the first time around. If you were wondering whether Pwyll manages to defeat Havgan, I... won't spoil it for you that he does, but I will just say it's more a question of what Pwyll has to sacrifice in order to do so ;) The second part of this story is Pwyll's seeking of a goddess, Rhiannon, as a wife. He enters the realm of the gods by way of a dangerous pathway, avoids death at the hands of a murderous druid, and tricks his main competitor, a native inhabitant of the gods' realm, in order to win freedom for Rhiannon to marry him. The stories are interesting, the characters plausible and understandable, and I certainly enjoyed my first exposure to Welsh cultural background.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    I absolutely enjoyed the descriptions of ominous happenings, Walton’s evocative language, and the straightforward attitude toward sex, but I found the stories too simplistic. I would like to read more basic retellings of Welsh mythology in a Bullfinchish manner rather than continue this series that fills out the stories beyond their original telling. I love the classic Greek story of Hercules and his young companions competing against the universal constructs, but flesh that 3 page story out to I absolutely enjoyed the descriptions of ominous happenings, Walton’s evocative language, and the straightforward attitude toward sex, but I found the stories too simplistic. I would like to read more basic retellings of Welsh mythology in a Bullfinchish manner rather than continue this series that fills out the stories beyond their original telling. I love the classic Greek story of Hercules and his young companions competing against the universal constructs, but flesh that 3 page story out to novel length and I’m snoring. If the original Welsh tales were larger in scope like the Homeric/Aeneid works this would be fine, but they more resemble the basic Greek and Norse mythology tellings than those epic works.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ghanima

    I had high hopes for this book. I loved the Mabinogion, mostly because the strong female characters. In this book all character were equally bland. Pwyll is just another hero, like many others, and Rhiannon is placed on a pedestal, causing a severe lack of personality. The numerous musings, philosophical and otherwise, slowed the story down enormously. Conclusion: Don't let this book fool you. The Mabinogion is one of the coolest mythologies out there. I had high hopes for this book. I loved the Mabinogion, mostly because the strong female characters. In this book all character were equally bland. Pwyll is just another hero, like many others, and Rhiannon is placed on a pedestal, causing a severe lack of personality. The numerous musings, philosophical and otherwise, slowed the story down enormously. Conclusion: Don't let this book fool you. The Mabinogion is one of the coolest mythologies out there.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David Merrill

    I had no idea what to expect from this book, except that the other three novels in Walton's Mabinogion chronicles are part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series and all of them have an incredibly good reputation. I was not disappointed. At the beginning of the book it mentioned earth was a shadow of Arawn's world, which called up memories of Zelazny's Amber. I was also reminded of Michael Moorcock's work and the dreamlike quality of Lord Dunsany. One of the first impressions I had was the solid I had no idea what to expect from this book, except that the other three novels in Walton's Mabinogion chronicles are part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series and all of them have an incredibly good reputation. I was not disappointed. At the beginning of the book it mentioned earth was a shadow of Arawn's world, which called up memories of Zelazny's Amber. I was also reminded of Michael Moorcock's work and the dreamlike quality of Lord Dunsany. One of the first impressions I had was the solidity of the writing. I knew I was in good hands right away. I don't often find that so obvious so early on in a novel. It happened in the first few pages. The Mabinogion is Welsh mythology from the 5th or 6th century. But tis tale is timeless and speaks to our world today. Excellent.

  7. 5 out of 5

    readmuchrunfar

    The first of a tetralogy of short novels, published in an omnibus edition. A little hard to follow at times, but a good story. The main problem was the profusion of typos. I'm talking big typos too, like a word misspelled in the title of one of the books in the inside flap of the dust jacket. I mean, seriously? Here's the punchline: the publisher of this edition is Overlook Press. Yes, they overlooked quite a lot. Ba-dum-chah. You can't make this stuff up. The first of a tetralogy of short novels, published in an omnibus edition. A little hard to follow at times, but a good story. The main problem was the profusion of typos. I'm talking big typos too, like a word misspelled in the title of one of the books in the inside flap of the dust jacket. I mean, seriously? Here's the punchline: the publisher of this edition is Overlook Press. Yes, they overlooked quite a lot. Ba-dum-chah. You can't make this stuff up.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenine

    What a delightful find. Simple language, evocative imagining of the legends. Reminded me of a translation of the stories of Cuchulain I read (some time ago, can't remember author, argh). Plenty of gender conflict material here with the Old Tribes matrilineal (ignorant of father's role in child creation) and the New Tribes patrilineal. What a delightful find. Simple language, evocative imagining of the legends. Reminded me of a translation of the stories of Cuchulain I read (some time ago, can't remember author, argh). Plenty of gender conflict material here with the Old Tribes matrilineal (ignorant of father's role in child creation) and the New Tribes patrilineal.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    I know this is incredibly ridiculous, but I searched for this book after discovering it is one of Stevie Nicks favorites & explains the story of Rhiannon ...one of my favorite songs. I'm so glad I read this book. it was more than I expected. Very beautiful story with love, hate, drama, and death. No wonder Stevie wrote a song about her :) I know this is incredibly ridiculous, but I searched for this book after discovering it is one of Stevie Nicks favorites & explains the story of Rhiannon ...one of my favorite songs. I'm so glad I read this book. it was more than I expected. Very beautiful story with love, hate, drama, and death. No wonder Stevie wrote a song about her :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Talamini

    This is pretty fun. I don't know the Mabinogion at all, so I can't say how accurate or not it is. It's definitely a great adventure though! I particularly like the severed heads flying around; the language, which is thoroughly salted with good description; the titanic moral struggles; the prevalence of virtue and honor (although of a peculiar kind I wouldn't personally recommend); and the liberal use of capital letters, as for the words 'Shadow', 'Beginning', 'Fate' and 'Illusion'. A couple thing This is pretty fun. I don't know the Mabinogion at all, so I can't say how accurate or not it is. It's definitely a great adventure though! I particularly like the severed heads flying around; the language, which is thoroughly salted with good description; the titanic moral struggles; the prevalence of virtue and honor (although of a peculiar kind I wouldn't personally recommend); and the liberal use of capital letters, as for the words 'Shadow', 'Beginning', 'Fate' and 'Illusion'. A couple things: I would say that Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber owes a debt of some kind to this book, except that that came out in 1970 and this in 1974. So maybe it's the other way around? Or more likely they were both getting inspiration from the same mythology. Particularly the way the characters pass between worlds is very similar, and I like it. One notices the author on several occasions taking a time-out from the actual story to have the characters philosophize, and it breaks the immersion pretty badly. You just can't have your legendary medieval druid-hero-king argue modern US politics without making him look like a puppet. Those of us who write novels should take notice; we will look just as corny in 40 years if we're not careful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Octavia Cade

    3.5 stars, rounding up to 4. My favourite of Walton's Mabinogion retellings thus far, I think because the conflict here is primarily internal rather than a series of battles in which relatively unsympathetic characters take part. There's still plenty of action, but the action here is more metaphorical - when Pwyll is fighting the bird-demon, for instance, it's clear that the bird is representative of self-doubt rather than a straight-up feathery monster. And because the story is so focused on Pw 3.5 stars, rounding up to 4. My favourite of Walton's Mabinogion retellings thus far, I think because the conflict here is primarily internal rather than a series of battles in which relatively unsympathetic characters take part. There's still plenty of action, but the action here is more metaphorical - when Pwyll is fighting the bird-demon, for instance, it's clear that the bird is representative of self-doubt rather than a straight-up feathery monster. And because the story is so focused on Pwyll's internal journey, I ended up feeling more for him than I do for most of Walton's other characters - while realising that this series is well-written, I've felt little emotional response to the previous books. I actually cared about what was happening here (on top of admiring the technique of it all) so that was an improvement.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I have been randomly interested in old fantasy... and these re-tellings of the Mabinogi, the ancient Welsh myths, were not the ticket. The characterizations are thin (Pwyll's personality has all the depth of a teaspoon), the misogyny is weird and internalized ... (local custom says Pwyll should take up the lord's offer of his wife - but that would be rude - but he wants to - but she's crying - but is that because she wants him? - he goes to sleep and the crying wife turns into the laughing godde I have been randomly interested in old fantasy... and these re-tellings of the Mabinogi, the ancient Welsh myths, were not the ticket. The characterizations are thin (Pwyll's personality has all the depth of a teaspoon), the misogyny is weird and internalized ... (local custom says Pwyll should take up the lord's offer of his wife - but that would be rude - but he wants to - but she's crying - but is that because she wants him? - he goes to sleep and the crying wife turns into the laughing goddess! Ha Ha!) ... and left me simply baffled. I will agree that the writing is occasionally lovely, and very Tolkienesque, which wouldn't be noteworthy except that this was written BEFORE the Lord of the Rings. Anyway, there are two books in the Prince of Annwn, but I could only bear to read the first.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fraser Sherman

    Evangeline Walton's retelling of the first branch of the Mabinogion (actually the fourth to come out) is beautifully written, incredibly eerie in the magic, and a great story too. In Part One, Pwyll, prince of Dyved is lured into the underworld of Annwn where he must take the place of Arawn, lord of Death, for a battle with an invading death god (fairly obviously embodying the most militant, vicious aspects of Christianity). In Part Two, Pwyll must take a bride and winds up chosen by Rhiannon, a Evangeline Walton's retelling of the first branch of the Mabinogion (actually the fourth to come out) is beautifully written, incredibly eerie in the magic, and a great story too. In Part One, Pwyll, prince of Dyved is lured into the underworld of Annwn where he must take the place of Arawn, lord of Death, for a battle with an invading death god (fairly obviously embodying the most militant, vicious aspects of Christianity). In Part Two, Pwyll must take a bride and winds up chosen by Rhiannon, a princess of Otherworld. However she has a suitor in her own world who's willing to fight dirty ... All around excellent, though the grumbles about the modern world (in glimpses of the future various characters have) get a bit much.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yuri

    I was hoping to find an another Patricia A. McKillip, but it is closer to Gaiman's Norse Mythology, which is not actually a surpise. I didn't enjoy it quite as much, but it was okay. I was hoping to find an another Patricia A. McKillip, but it is closer to Gaiman's Norse Mythology, which is not actually a surpise. I didn't enjoy it quite as much, but it was okay.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    4.5 stars. Evangeline Walton had a deft hand at creating a coherent narrative and still keeping the feel of the myths. I haven't read the Mabinogion myself, but this reminds me strongly of many Irish tales that I've read, and of many Arthurian legends. 4.5 stars. Evangeline Walton had a deft hand at creating a coherent narrative and still keeping the feel of the myths. I haven't read the Mabinogion myself, but this reminds me strongly of many Irish tales that I've read, and of many Arthurian legends.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vendela

    The story of how Watson finally achieved literary fame is a remarkable one - worth looking up. And this book is so good.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bryn (Plus Others)

    I read these so long ago -- I remember it was interestingly of its period but not very enjoyable as a thing in itself.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leelan

    This book has only improved with age.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Don Incognito

    Notwithstanding that this is only the one story, don't think of this as the Mabinogion even in some sort of modernized form. (I have read this as part of the collected Mabinogion Tetralogy, but am debating whether I want to continue.) Think of it more as a modern fantasy based on the Mabinogion. Because in my opinion, this no longer greatly resembles the original stories (the Four Branches), mutatis mutandis. Too much has been added that did not follow as a reasonable extrapolation; the characte Notwithstanding that this is only the one story, don't think of this as the Mabinogion even in some sort of modernized form. (I have read this as part of the collected Mabinogion Tetralogy, but am debating whether I want to continue.) Think of it more as a modern fantasy based on the Mabinogion. Because in my opinion, this no longer greatly resembles the original stories (the Four Branches), mutatis mutandis. Too much has been added that did not follow as a reasonable extrapolation; the characters have been too humanized and made too complex for folktale legends. When I read the Four Branches of the Mabinogion (the sources for Prince of Annwn and the other stories in the Tetralogy), I found them mysterious and nonrational but very matter-of-fact: this happened, then this happened, then this happened. You didn't see into the characters' thoughts. The stories were more folk tale than epic or novel. They're fascinating and challenging for their surrealism. Evangeline Walton's stories have inevitably taken that away, by transforming the folk tales into epic novels. Yes, that's the key to the change: the Mabinogion Tetralogy stories transform the Mabinogion's folk-tales into an epic (or epics). I'm not sure I prefer this. It took away the charm of the originals. Being pre-Christian Welsh (Cymru), this is very much a Celtic pagan epic (as so would be the rest of the Tetralogy if it shares the same ethos, as I expect). Pwyll of Dyved is a young warrior-king who by tradition sleeps with all his men's new brides but maintains a sense of honor. His society worships a goddess and its wise men are Druids (though Pwyll doesn't take them and their advice seriously). It's very interesting, and I really should continue with book two just to be finished, but I'm not sure the entire epic is to my taste. This is the unexpected and remarkable feature of the story that is also unknown to the original Mabinogion: it's metafictional. It refers to itself by saying things to the effect of "as is told in the Mabinogion," as though it recognizes itself to be not the Mabinogion but some storyteller's retelling. I found this use of metafiction refreshingly not postmodern: that is, not a smug and ironic wink at the reader, but just a surprising self-awareness. (No plot spoilers offered.) I very much regret that this tetralogy, though perfectly well-known to critics and well-read fantasy fans, is obviously forgotten in the broader culture. It was impossible to find at any local library, and was even relatively difficult to get on interlibrary loan. If I don't recommend it to my Goodreads friends, it's mainly because they won't find it easily without buying it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    A fantasy book based off of Welsh legends, so a slightly different flavor of faerie and with a dash of Silent Spring.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    Beautiful story, but the telling was sub-par. A plot-hole in the first half really bothered me: (view spoiler)[Arawn's wife knew, in the chapter that Pwyll refused to sleep with her, that he was Pwyll, but then the writing suggested that she didn't know in a later chapter in the book. Clearly the editor wasn't paying very close attention, because that mistake was glaringly obvious to me. (hide spoiler)] The writing, I find, is a bit too deliberately poetic -- I've just finished reading another bo Beautiful story, but the telling was sub-par. A plot-hole in the first half really bothered me: (view spoiler)[Arawn's wife knew, in the chapter that Pwyll refused to sleep with her, that he was Pwyll, but then the writing suggested that she didn't know in a later chapter in the book. Clearly the editor wasn't paying very close attention, because that mistake was glaringly obvious to me. (hide spoiler)] The writing, I find, is a bit too deliberately poetic -- I've just finished reading another book, a short-story collection by Rick Bass, and comparing the two, I realized something: He writes in such a way that sort of makes the words a vessel for the story, and not an end in themselves. It's the story that is the art for Rick Bass, not his words or sentences. Walton (and many fantasy writers, I find, particularly the earlier ones) take a wholly different approach -- the words are not only a vessel for the story, but an opportunity to show off their flowery language. If that kind of approach isn't done flawlessly, what ends up happening is that the words actually get in the way of the story, instead of being merely a vessel for the story. When I read, I definitely prefer to be wholly entrenched in the story, not conscious of the words. The words need to stay out of the way, to be as inconspicuous as possible. I want to lose awareness of the fact that I'm reading a book written by the author -- I want to be only conscious of the characters and what they do, say, and feel. Overly poetic prose of the kind you find in early fantasy doesn't lend itself well to that, especially in the case of this book. Nonetheless, beautiful, gorgeous story. I do truly feel enriched having read it, regardless of my criticisms of the writing style.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Strangely, I have never actually read these four books from beginning to end. I have owned them, given them, lent them, recommended them, discussed them, but never just read them. So now I am beginning to rectify that mistake. This first book of the tetralogy is every bit as wonderful as I knew it to be. A great story, beautifully told, it is faithful enough to the original to be deeply satisfying. Walton does add a pronounced anti-Christian message which is not found in the original, and the ad Strangely, I have never actually read these four books from beginning to end. I have owned them, given them, lent them, recommended them, discussed them, but never just read them. So now I am beginning to rectify that mistake. This first book of the tetralogy is every bit as wonderful as I knew it to be. A great story, beautifully told, it is faithful enough to the original to be deeply satisfying. Walton does add a pronounced anti-Christian message which is not found in the original, and the addition is annoying, but not enough to be more than a passing nuisance. Otherwise, I love this book. I appreciate that Walton did not emasculate the story, the character, or the culture. The Masculine energy is represented well, even though her preference seems to be for the Feminine. She is to be commended for balancing the two so very well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    A lyrical, earthy retelling of the Mabinogion (medieval Welsh tale). I was surprised to find I liked the hero of the story--medieval heroes are generally either terribly stupid or complete prigs, and Pwyll is not bright but brighter than many of his countrymen. This, the first part of Walton's four-part retelling, seems mostly concerned with the transition between the old, pagan ways and Christianity, which is to come. I wish the oracles and gods had spent a little less time fortelling what woul A lyrical, earthy retelling of the Mabinogion (medieval Welsh tale). I was surprised to find I liked the hero of the story--medieval heroes are generally either terribly stupid or complete prigs, and Pwyll is not bright but brighter than many of his countrymen. This, the first part of Walton's four-part retelling, seems mostly concerned with the transition between the old, pagan ways and Christianity, which is to come. I wish the oracles and gods had spent a little less time fortelling what would happen in the twentieth century (pollution, we don't respect the Mother Earth, we fly and harness lightning), but it's overall a good, fast read of an ancient myth.

  24. 4 out of 5

    LeAnne

    A retelling rather than a translation, Walton's language is so rich and refreshing that it invites reading aloud to savor each word. I found myself underlining especially well-expressed passages. The book powerfully portrays an ancient Celtic worldview, although it must be kept in mind that since little is known of the actual beliefs of the Druids, much is speculation and imagination. The author sometimes inserts commentary on our own times in the form of prophecy, and she has conflicts with Chr A retelling rather than a translation, Walton's language is so rich and refreshing that it invites reading aloud to savor each word. I found myself underlining especially well-expressed passages. The book powerfully portrays an ancient Celtic worldview, although it must be kept in mind that since little is known of the actual beliefs of the Druids, much is speculation and imagination. The author sometimes inserts commentary on our own times in the form of prophecy, and she has conflicts with Christianity, but most of that can be read as a pre-Christian point-of-view that doesn't mare the beauty of the telling.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    This is the second I've read of Walton's retellings of the Mabinogion. This isn't as artfully composed as the first she wrote, The Island of the Mighty. In that story, her politics seemed to flow naturally, but here they only reminded me of the contrast between the way the Celts treated women and the way we romantics would like to imagine they did. But, Walton fleshes out Pwyll's journey through the underworld with haunting images that help move the story into nearly a bildungsroman and deepen i This is the second I've read of Walton's retellings of the Mabinogion. This isn't as artfully composed as the first she wrote, The Island of the Mighty. In that story, her politics seemed to flow naturally, but here they only reminded me of the contrast between the way the Celts treated women and the way we romantics would like to imagine they did. But, Walton fleshes out Pwyll's journey through the underworld with haunting images that help move the story into nearly a bildungsroman and deepen its romance.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    It was very pretty and I am looking forward to reading the others. It's interesting to read it alongside Siodne Davies more literal translation of the Mabinogion. The stories are bizarre and odd and do not feel entirely human. Which I like. Still, I do think the greatest fantasy of the 20th century is a bit of a stretch. The Silmarillion, guys. Arawn is weird, but: Feanor. Luthien. Numenor. The fall of Gondolin. Get outta here! It was very pretty and I am looking forward to reading the others. It's interesting to read it alongside Siodne Davies more literal translation of the Mabinogion. The stories are bizarre and odd and do not feel entirely human. Which I like. Still, I do think the greatest fantasy of the 20th century is a bit of a stretch. The Silmarillion, guys. Arawn is weird, but: Feanor. Luthien. Numenor. The fall of Gondolin. Get outta here!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Greg Strandberg

    This series was based on old myths and the writing certainly should have been updated. Why did I read all four of these books? I have no idea, although they were fast, thank goodness! Overall I'd urge people to check out the Top 100 fantasy lists for books you'd love - this one I think you'd only like at best. This series was based on old myths and the writing certainly should have been updated. Why did I read all four of these books? I have no idea, although they were fast, thank goodness! Overall I'd urge people to check out the Top 100 fantasy lists for books you'd love - this one I think you'd only like at best.

  28. 5 out of 5

    GaryandRuth

    -- R. Stuck on Chap. 1 at the moment - struggling to find the motivation to read it again. I know this is a wonderful book, but I've been there once and there is SO much to read! :) Must be disciplined! :) G. -- R. Stuck on Chap. 1 at the moment - struggling to find the motivation to read it again. I know this is a wonderful book, but I've been there once and there is SO much to read! :) Must be disciplined! :) G.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katie Daniels

    If you've been wanting to catch up on your Welsh mythology, this is a good way to do it. Reasonably accurate, well written, dramatic--all you need is a pronunciation guide for all the vowelless words! If you've been wanting to catch up on your Welsh mythology, this is a good way to do it. Reasonably accurate, well written, dramatic--all you need is a pronunciation guide for all the vowelless words!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    an excellent telling of a traditional tale with some adaptations for 20th century thought. very much the sort of story that could be spun over a couple of hours in front of a fire, and none woukd grudge the time.

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