I’m participating in a Summer Reading Group with a few bloggers that was arranged by Sourcebooks. The selection we’re reading is The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter. It’s quite the chunkster of a book at 800 and some pages but thankfully it is made up of four books and we are reading them over the course of four months. The first section is entitled Sunrise in the West and that is what this review is based on.
Sunrise in the West is the first book and is based on the four brothers of Gwynedd but this part focuses mostly on Llewelyn,the last prince of Wales and the second born son of Lord Griffith. The other brothers are Owen, Rhodri and David. This first part of the book is really setting the scene for us and introducing all the characters.
The book starts with Lord Griffith being imprisoned with his eldest son Owen. His wife Senena then leaves with her two younger sons, Rhodri and David, to go to King Henry to bargain for their release. However, her son Llewelyn, even after being ordered by his mother to come with them, manages to disappear at the last minute. She is forced to leave without him.
Llewelyn refuses to leave his home. He wants to stay and fight for what is his alongside his uncle David. He is spotted though by a young boy but by silent consent they both agree to never tell that they saw each other. This young boy turns out to be Samson who has been a childhood friend to all the boys as his mother was in service to Senena. This loyalty between Llewelyn and Samson ends up extending all the way into adulthood. This first section of the book is also narrated by Samson.
After their father dies the boys are all brought together again. Llewelyn has been ruling over Wales all the while they were gone but the council decides that it would be best if the two older brothers work together to keep peace. The two younger brothers, Rhodri and David, are given substantial lands to rule over. Unfortunately it isn’t enough to keep them happy and instead of working together to gain control over King Henry, they fight amongst themselves instead. Eventually this all simmers down and they band together to go against the King. The next battle is to tackle King Henry and get Wales back under Welsh rule.
While there are a lot of beautiful passages in this novel…
…it is also quite difficult to read at times. It’s classed as fiction but truthfully I felt as though I was reading a history text at times. What I’m finding is that most of the novel thus far is really lacking in any warmth or emotion. I like the narrator, Samson. He seems to be a good man who stays loyal to those important to him but it’s just like he’s doling out facts with not a lot of anything else. At times there are certain parts of the story that are being told that are interesting and it is for those that I keep reading.
If you’d like to read more opinions on Sunrise in the West you can check out all these other participants in the Summer Reading Group as well as checking out the book discussion that will take place on May 24 on Passages to the Past at 7pm EST…
May 17 Reviews
May 18 Reviews
May 19 Reviews
May 20 Reviews
May 21 Reviews
May 23 Reviews
Check back next month for the next installment in The Brothers of Gwynedd, Dragon at Noonday.