Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: The Brothers of Gwynedd, Part I--Sunrise in the West

The Brothers of Gwynedd is a massive story of life-and-death politics, greed and treachery in a land held in the balance. Set in the eleventh century, The Brothers of Gwynedd is a collection in one volume of Edith Pargenter's four historical novels about the struggles of medieval Wales to remain free from English domination.

The first book,
Sunrise in the West, begins with Prince Llewelyn of Gwynedd, who successfully unified Wales against the encroaching Henry III of England, only to have the rivalry between his sons destroy his work. Events and personalities pit Llewelyn's two strongest grandsons against each other--the wise Llewelyn, too honorable to believe his brother a rival, and cunning David, who uses his brother's blindness against him, as they struggle to reunify a fragmented and dispirited Wales.

With sweeping descriptions and detailed explanations deftly woven into the narrative, Ms. Pargenter plunges you so deeply into the history, mindset and emotion of medieval Wales that you remember the story long after you've finished reading. The larger-than-life characters, real and fictional, leap out of the page, each one unique, with his or her own personality etched so well you remember every player, major or minor. Ms. Pargenter adds a wrenching human drama by including the story of Samson, the son of the princes' nurse and a participant in the events, who narrates the story.

The writing is dense with historical detail and description, bringing to vivid life a tumultuous and turbulent era in a way no textbook could. For those who like compelling historical fiction that faithfully recreates the past,
The Brothers of Gwynedd should please.

If, like me, you enjoyed the Brother Cadfael medieval murder mysteries, Edith Pargenter wrote them under the name of Ellis Peters.

On Monday, May 24, from 7PM-9PM EST, join us for a blog chat to discuss Sunrise in the West at . Hope to "see" you there!

See the other reviews here:

May 17 Reviews
The Burton Review
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
A Reader's Respite
History Undressed
Linda Banche Romance Author
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

Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks


Marg said...

I actually haven't read any of the Brother Cadfael books, so this was my first introduction to Edith Pargeter's writing in any way.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Marg, THE BROTHERS OF GWYNEDD gives you a good idea of how Edith Pargenter writes. Her novels are pictures with words, and she knows so much about medieval Wales, you feel you're there.