Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: The Brothers of Gwynedd, Pt. 1

My Synopsis & Thoughts:

The Brothers of Gwynedd, Pt. 1: Sunrise in the West by Edith Pargeter

(For review for the Sourcebooks Summer Reading Club)

I am privileged to be able to take part in the Sourcebooks Summer Reading Club. During this summer we will be reading and reviewing, The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter. This is a lengthy novel at over 800 pages, which is divided into four parts. Each month between May and August several different bloggers will review the same section of the book and post their reviews.

There will also be a chat about that section of the book on a specific blog each month. This month's chat for the first section of The Brothers of Gwynedd, "Sunrise in the West" will take place on Monday, May 24th, from 7pm-9pm at Passages to the Past and will be hosted by Amy. If you have read this section of the book or want to become more informed about it, please join us for the chat. I will be posting the schedule of reviews for the first section, "Sunrise in the West" following my review. Please feel free to visit the other blogs and see what they thought of this part of the book.

"Sunrise in the West" is the first part of The Brothers of Gwynedd and focuses on setting the scene for the book and introducing us to the characters. This section is told through the eyes of, Samson a young boy who comes to manhood in the service of four brothers, Owen Goch, Llewelyn, Rhodri and David. This is a dramatic time in the history of Wales. The country of Wales is at war with itself as well as the English crown.

With their father and oldest brother, Owen Goch imprisoned, brothers Rhodri and David flee with their mother, Lady Senena into the protection of the English king Henry III. Llewelyn, the second brother refuses to join them and comes to adulthood in Wales with his Uncle. Llewelyn has a dream of seeing a united Wales under one prince, who can withstand the English. As the book progresses we not only follow the story of the history of Wales, but a story within a story about the life of Samson and his great loyalty to Llewelyn and his cause.

For me, this was one of the best parts of the book. I am a history buff and studied history in college and was very impressed at how Edith Pargeter used the history and legend of the first prince of Wales as a backdrop for a very well written novel. Samson's story for some reason reminded me a lot of Ken Follett's, Pillars of the Earth, just the feel of the story and the style of writing. It is very informative and deeply rooted in history which allows the reader to not only be entertained, but educated as well.

"Sunrise in the West" follows the four brothers as Owen Goch returns to Wales and with Llewelyn rules over Gwynedd. When Rhodri and David return to Wales they are given substantial holdings within Gwynedd but not to the extent of the first two brothers. This eventually causes strife and dissension between the brothers and before they can take on Henry III they must fight each other. With Wales finally united under Llewelyn, it was time to take back what the English had taken from them.

In the final scenes of part one, Llewelyn is crowned the prince of Wales and the English are vanquished for a time. David the younger brother is still not completely in Llewelyn's corner and we sense that trouble is still to come between them. Owen Goch is locked away by Llewelyn to prevent any more betrayals. Rhodri seems to be only a minor character at this point. Samson has gone through many changes, finds the love of his life and loses her, finds out who his family is but is unable to approach them. Buries both his mother and his step father and has stayed true to Llewelyn and his dream.

I look forward to part two, "Dragon at Noonday," in order to see what will happen next to Wales and to the brothers and Samson. This is a very well researched novel and very well written, though is does take time to read. It is not a light read and is chalk full of history. If you are a history buff, a person interested in Wales or a fan of books that are written in the style of , Pillars of the Earth you will love this book.

I give this one a definite 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Here is the schedule of reviews and other blogs that are participating in the Sourcebooks Summer Reading Club:

May 17th reviews: (Direct link to The Brothers of Gwynedd reviews)

May 18th reviews: (Direct link to The Brothers of Gwynedd reviews)

May 19th reviews: (Check out these blogs after the review posts)

May 20th reviews: (Check out these blogs after the review posts)

May 21st reviews: (Check out these blogs after the review posts)

May 23rd reviews: (Check out these blogs after the review posts)


Elie said...

Since you are a history buff and found it enjoyable I would say that is a great recommendation. Thanks for the detailed review.

MarthaE said...

Very good review! I'm glad you liked it too. I thought it was fascinating history.

Llehn said...

I'm not big on historical books but this one sounds intriguing.

Shy said...

I LOVE historical fiction and never once have I read of anything set in Wales!! I really have to give this one a shot. Thanks for pointing this one out =)

throuthehaze said...

wow! 800 pages!?! It takes a lot of dedication to make it through all that. Maybe I will give it a try someday