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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review The Brothers ofGwynedd by Edith Pargeter - Book One, Sunrise in the West

The Brothers of Gwynedd: The Legend of the First True Prince of Wales by Edith Pargeter
Part One: Sunrise in the West
The Brothers of Gwynedd: The Legend of the First True Prince of Wales

Paperback: First Book 186 pages of 772 total pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (May 2010)
ISBN-10: # 140223760X
ISBN-13: 978-1402237607

Rating 5.0

Product Description
A Burning Desire for One Country, One Love, and One Legacy That Will Last Forever.
Llewelyn, prince of Gwynedd, dreams of a Wales united against the English, but first he must combat enemies nearer home. Llewelyn and his brothers-Owen Goch, Rhodri, and David-vie for power among themselves and with the English king, Henry III. Despite the support of his beloved wife, Eleanor, Llewelyn finds himself trapped in a situation where the only solution could be his very downfall...
Originally published in England as four individual novels, The Brothers of Gwynedd transports you to a world of chivalry, gallant heroes, and imprisoned damsels; to star-crossed lovers and glorious battle scenes; and is Edith Pargeter's absorbing tale of tragedy, traitors, and triumph of the heart.

Review:  This story presents a remarkably life-like portrait of the battle for leadership and freedom in Medieval Wales.  It is the tale of the rise of the first true Prince of Wales, Lleweyln of Gwynedd. 

The tale, and fictionalized history is told as though through the journal or memoirs of Samson.  Samson, the son of a lady’s maid and nurse, grows up with the Gwynedd family in the household of Lady Senena, the mother of the four brothers who will vie for power.  Llewelyn and Samson were born the same night and raised together for six years before Samson is sent of for schooling. When Samson returns he helps take care of the younger boys, Rhodri and David, learning their natures and personalities.

Lady Senena decides to take her young sons to England to gain protection from the King and petition for release of her husband and their eldest son. Llewelyn chooses to run off to live with his Uncle David in Wales, rather than go with his family to England. Thus Llewelyn is the son who is ingrained in the Welsh culture while the other brothers have a close exposure to England.

Samson describes the determination of the boys’ strong willed mother and the developing characters and motives of each of the brothers.  Samson’s memories are fleshed out and enhanced by his mature reflections of the past and by the end of the first book you feel as if you are living the times with the characters.

The story is rich with the political intrigues of the era.  Through the insightful and intriguing memories and observations of Samson the author reveals the struggle between the English and the Welsh and also the wrangling for land and power among the Welsh clans. The brothers themselves are at odds, fighting for shares of inheritance and more importantly the power to lead Wales during this tumultuous time.

Although there are a number of characters, once you distinguish who they are, it is not difficult to follow and it is interesting to watch how the relationships and interactions among the brothers play out.  I really like Samson and his fair observations and his deep loyalty; traits which all of the brothers respect in him. There is some unrequited romance and lots of manipulation to keep your attention in the story.

I will be interested to learn what happens in the next three parts of this book.

On May 24, from 7-9 pm EST, Passages to the Past will be hosting the first Sourcebook Summer Reading Club discussion about this novel.Meet us there if you would like to join in.

Here are the postings for the other reviews of Part One.

May 17 Reviews
The Burton Review
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
A Reader's Respite
History Undressed
Linda Banche Blog
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Royal Reviews

May 18 Reviews
Between the Pages
The Broken Teepee
Books and Coffee
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff
Passages to the Past
The Book Faery
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore
Martha's Bookshelf

May 19 Reviews
Beth Fish
Deb's Book Bag
Book Tumbling
A Work in Progress
Stiletto Storytime
Queen of Happy Endings

May 20 Reviews
The Literate Housewife
Reading Adventures
Books Like Breathing
Kailana's Written World
Confessions of a Muse in the Fog
Wendy's Minding Spot
Mrs. Q Book Addict
The Life and Lies of a Flying Inanimate Object
Starting Fresh

May 21 Reviews
Loving Heart Mommy
Peeking Between the Pages
Celtic Lady's Ramblings
One Literature Nut
The Book Tree
My Reading Room

May 23 Reviews
Carla Nayland's Blog


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