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 MabinogionThe Saturday Review Said About Her Work These Books Are Not Only The Best Fantasies Of The Th Century, But Also Great Works Of Fiction They Are Actual Retellings Of The Diverse Legends Of The Mabinogion In Novel Formdealing With Good And Eviland The Nature Of Love


10 thoughts on “Prince of Annwn (Mabinogi, Book 1)

  1. says:

    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 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 , 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 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 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. says:

    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 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. says:

    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 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. says:

    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 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 resemble the basic Greek and Norse mythology tellings than those epic works.


  5. says:

    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. says:

    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.


  7. says:

    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.


  8. says:

    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 than I expected Very beautiful story with love, hate, drama, and death No wonder Stevie wrote a song about her


  9. says:

    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 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.


  10. says:

    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 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 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.