A continuation of the story in the next generation, switching over to a different kingdom from Pwyll s, where there are five siblings, two of whom are twin offspring of their mother s sort of rape Walton sets one of the two half brother twins as unusually good, and the other as a bad seed who corrupts and ruins all he touches, never once admitting his own fault in any of his misfortune.Those characters much like Mordred in Arthurian Legends are known and can easily get tiresome, since they are so unlikable However, Walton keeps him fresh and believable, and one weeps to see things come to their tragic, completely destructive end It s all thewrenching because the other siblings keep treating the bad seed as well as possible because he s their brother, when the destruction could have been mitigated if he d been treated the way they knew he probably deserved.This is the story that has a giant king, Bran, whose girth is only exceeded by his wisdom, whose head is preserved talking long after he dies in order for it to continue sharing its wisdom It is also the story with a cauldron of a certain color madefamous by Lloyd Alexander s series The Black Cauldron. Change that comes too fast brings about a triple birth, says Bran when he has learned his lesson, Hatred and Fear and Strife p.214 This is no longer the pleasant fairytale world of The Prince of Annwn, but high tragedy in the manner of the Greeks The conflict between Old Tribes and New Tribes, Isle of the Mighty and Ireland, old ways and new ways exposes the darkness of the heart There is no God here working out his plan to reconcile all things to himself Only the gods that never condemn even man s abuse of woman or violent death , never bade or forbade Gods who left man to burn himself until his eyes were clear enough to behold the wonder and peace of their gardens to do what only oneself can do, and break his own bonds p 209 The worldview is a cycle of life and death and rebirth We are still in a mythical world of giants and Druids and magic spells The telling is masterful. I had almost forgotten what true storytelling was The sheer power of an original story, unencumbered by the trappings of modern writing and style and all the conventions required by an impatient and inelegant generation Children of Llyr is a retelling, and a masterful one It is not a dramatization or an interpretation, or a modern novel bearing only the names and places of ancient Wales It is true to the original, andthan that, true to the intent Anyone interested in Celtic mythology but daunted by the original Gaelic texts need wonder nowhere to learn the legend and folklore that predate even those of King Arthur himself Children of Llyr is a powerful, emotional story of love and revenge, war and wisdom It isn t cheap or tawdry, or contrived It rings with an honesty that only a legend that s been handed down lovingly for thousands of years ever can It is as complex and intense as a fantasy masterpiece, but so much closer to home than any fictional world ever could be Evangline Walton has, in true bardic fashion, captured our hearts and imaginations with plain language In this simple telling there ispain and truth to be found than in any flashier,conceited work In it we are not only entertained, but we are instructed instructed to look deep into ourselves, for if these choices could be made by our ancestors, why could they not be made by us as well Walton s writing is as stunning in this as in its predecessor She is amazingly adept at expanding the original text, adding a modern concern with psychology, while never giving the feeling that she is doing violence to the feel of the ancient text Her neo pagan and anti Christian intrusions are annoying at time does it simply never occur to her that my Celtic pagan ancestors gave up their old gods so easily and willingly for a reason , but that annoyance is easily forgiven for the sake of the beauty of her writing and the majesterial authority of her vision Yes, I just wrote the majesterial authority of her vision and I mean it Her insights into the inner thoughts and feelings of the people she writes about make me willing to cut her some slack for her comment about the old gods supposed charity Charity is precisely the last word that would come to mind for me I love Walton s retelling of the Mabinogion and recommend it for anybody who loves old stories, human psychology, the real ancient Celts as well as the misty and mystical Celtic twilight, beauty, the Matter of Britain, or a haunting and engaging tale. In Stark, Gaunt Prose, It Chronicles The Years Of Bran The Blessed He Who Was So Vast A Man That No House Could Hold Him Nor Ship Bear His Bulk And Of The Tale Of His Beloved Sister Branwen, His Brother Manawyddan, And Of His Half Brothers Nissyen And The Ghastly Evnissten It Is A Tale Of Change And Storm, Of Love Beyond Death, Of High Courage, Of The End Of An Era And The Beginning Of Another It Is Epic Fantasy In Its Purest Form Marvellous In Its Compass And Power Of the four novels Evangeline Walton drew from Welsh mythology, The Children of Llyr is the masterpiece the tale of a war between the patriarchal New Tribes Ireland and the matrilineal Welsh kingdom that resists all attempts at peace and eventually leaves both sides devastated Walton s feminist take roots the disaster in crimes against women Penarddun, who endures rape to save the life of her husband, Llyr and Branwen, Llyr s daughter, whose marriage to the spineless king of the New Tribes becomes a nightmare Walton s artistry illuminates heroes and villains alike, and she makes Evnissyen prickly, spiteful, doomed to endless self loathing that sparks horrifyingly violent acts into one of the greatest antiheroes in literature Evangeline Walton It s an odd experience reading a book when you re frustrated by so many of the characters I read this, largely enjoying it, but all the time, at the back of my mind, I was thinking Just kill the bad seed already before he screws it up for all of you Do they No, but everyone else seems to be fair game for violent death Does it all turn to custard Yes, of course A little bit of good judgement could have saved everyone a lot of trouble, is all I m saying I mean honestly did none of them see it coming Yeah, I know it s a story based on a mythology and so the author s somewhat limited in where she can go, but even so I can see the book s very competently written, but it didn t grab me enough to rush out and find the rest of the series, though I m sure I ll get to them eventually. A brilliant rendition of the second branch of the Mabinogi Now onto the third branch One of the best books I ve read, if not one of the strangest Be sure to read Prince of Annwn first Walton s metaphors and similes are second to none and the tale itself will stick with you forever. Infinitely better than Prince of Annwn