The Brothers of Gwynedd, Pt. 2: The Dragon at Noonday by Edith Pargeter
(For review from Sourcebooks)
Originally published in 1975, "The Dragon at Noonday" is the second book in The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet by Edith Pargeter. It continues the story of Llewellyn, the first prince of a united Wales and his his family. "The Dragon at Noonday" picks up a few days after the first book, "Sunrise in the West" ends. The story begins in 1258 shortly after Llewellyn is crowned Prince of Wales by nearly all of his countrymen and continues through 1267 when England formally recognizes Llewellyn as the true Prince of Wales.
The book also details the struggle between King Henry III and a group of barons intent on reforming England, led by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. King Henry struggles to procure Sicily for his son, Edward, who would become Edward I. Because of this, he is willing to grant Wales a truce, which can be renewed, though not a true peace agreement. During this time Llewellyn is faced with his first traitor, who he must punish and use as a example to others who have sworn allegiance to him. With the help of his brother David he makes his stand.
David and Llewellyn's relationship has always been fraught with turmoil and it is really brought to a head when their mother Lady Senena dies. David eventually returns to England to fight alongside his childhood friend Edward, King Henry's son. England is plunged into a bitter civil war between King Henry and the supporters of Simon de Montfort. They are finally driven to a bloody battle at Evesham where yet again Llewellyn who supports Montfort and David who supports Edward and King Henry are on opposite sides.
Though many of the characters are based on real historical figures, Samson, Llewellyn's trusty clerk and good friend who narrates the story is fictional. Throughout the great history of Wales that is being told, Samson has his own story. In "Sunrise in the West", Samson met and fell in love with Cristin but is devastated when he finds her missing husband, Godred who is believed dead. Now in "The Dragon at Noonday" Samson's story continues, as his love for Cristin becomes stronger.
The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet, altogether is close to 800 pages. Each section or book within it is around 200 pages making it easier to read and enjoy. I am a former history major and really enjoyed this book. It is very well researched and gives us a glimpse into what it was like during the 13th century. How politic's shaped the future of even the common man.
"The Dragon at Noonday", second book in the Quartet focuses on relationships. The relationship of King Henry III with is own people in England who desperately want reform. The relationship between Llewellyn, the first Prince of Wales and his brother David. The relationship between Samson, Cristin and Godred. It is a very character driven book, as we get to see how historical figures may have felt and reacted to everything that was happening around them.
I particularly enjoy the story within a story about Samson. The historical parts of the book can get a bit heavy. It is certainly not a light read, however the story of Samson seems to give the reader a bit of a break. They able to see how a commoner may have dealt with all the political turmoil as well as the turmoil in his own life. Llewellyn continues to be a character filled with honor and bound to his principles. David is a character that seems to be tortured and pulled into many directions. King Henry appears weak and unable to control his own country in this story and Edward seems very self serving and willing to do anything it takes to get what he wants.
The Brothers of Gwynedd is available now from your favorite bookseller!
This one definitely gets 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!