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17 May 2010

The Brothers of Gwynedd: A Quartet-Section One: Sunrise in the West

Title: The Brothers of Gwynedd: The Legend of the First True Prince of Wales
Author: Edith Pargeter
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
Paperback: 800 pages
ISBN: 978-1402237607
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating for section one of The Brothers of Gwynedd: Sunrise in the West Photobucket

From the Publisher:

A Burning Desire for One Country, One Love, and One Legacy That Will Last Forever.

Llewelyn, prince of Gwynedd, dreams of a Wales united against the English, but first he must combat enemies nearer home. Llewelyn and his brothers—Owen Goch, Rhodri, and David—vie for power among themselves and with the English king, Henry III. Despite the support of his beloved wife, Eleanor, Llewelyn finds himself trapped in a situation where the only solution could be his very downfall...

Originally published in England as four individual novels, The Brothers of Gwynedd transports you to a world of chivalry, gallant heroes, and imprisoned damsels; to star-crossed lovers and glorious battle scenes; and is Edith Pargeter’s absorbing tale of tragedy, traitors, and triumph of the heart.

My Review of Section One:

The Brothers of Gwynedd: A Quartet is divided into four sections, the first being Sunrise In the West, which is what this review is based upon. The beginning was a bit difficult to get into as Simon, the narrator introduces the reader to a plethora of characters in a short period of time. However the novel picks up speed and intensity by the second chapter. Section one begins in 1228 with Llewelyn Fawr being the Prince of Gwynedd while King Henry III is on the throne in England. Prince Llewelyn's oldest son Griffith is not recognised as the legal heir, mismanages land and eventually finds himself imprisoned in the Castle of Degannwy. Fortunately his wife, Lady Senena, is far more level headed and rules quite well, taking charge not only of their son Llewelyn, but also of Samson, our narrator, who was born on the same day.

By 1241 Lady Senena has called the boys home so they can proceed to Shrewsbury to meet with King Henry III, however 12-year-old Llewelyn believes this is the worst thing that can happen for Wales, as he desires a free and independent Wales whereas King Henry III does not. Being three years shy of being independent, he should follow his mother, yet so strong are young Llewelyn's convictions that he sets off on his own to achieve his goal of freeing Wales, refusing to side with the King as his mother plans. From this moment the intensity of the story compels the reader to continue and makes one reluctant to cease reading.

Pargeter is an extremely gifted writer and tells a deeply compelling and richly detailed story of families and countrymen divided, allegiances made and broken, and of the brothers, each with their individual agendas and all vying for positions on the throne. The reader is given a brilliant look into the latter part of the Middle Ages and how life was for those who lived in England and in Wales.

I immensely enjoyed the first section of the book, my only hurdle was getting into the novel, it is an intense book and at 800 pages, a hefty tome which as I mentioned is broken down into four parts. I would have liked the book to include a list of common names and words with a pronunciation key, since I know I am pronouncing the names incorrectly and would have liked to know how to pronounce them. Otherwise, I am quite pleased with the first section of The Brothers of Gwynedd, which is filled with enough action, suspense and historical detail to keep the reader quite engaged and I look forward to the second section. I am reading The Brothers of Gwynedd for a group discussion and I shall not be posting my review of the second section, The Dragon At Noonday until June. Do watch for the next review and take a look at what others in the group have to say about section one of The Brothers of Gwynedd.

About the Author:

Edith Pargeter (1913-1995) has gained worldwide praise and recognition for her historical fiction and historical mysteries, including A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury, which Sourcebooks will be releasing in Fall 2010. She also wrote several novels of crime fiction as Ellis Peters. She was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire).

The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter Summer Reading Club Review Schedule!

May 17

The Burton Review
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
A Reader's Respite
History Undressed
Linda Banche Blog
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Royal Reviews

May 18

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

Beth Fish
Deb's Book Bag
Book Tumbling
A Work in Progress
Stiletto Storytime
Queen of Happy Endings

May 20

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

Loving Heart Mommy
Peeking Between the Pages
Celtic Lady's Ramblings
One Literature Nut
The Book Tree
My Reading Room

May 23

Carla Nayland

I received a complimentary copy of The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter from Sourcebooks for Sourcebooks Summer Reading Club. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.



Blodeuedd said...

You read the entire thing! Go you :) I am saving the rest for the summer cos this was sure one huge book

Jennifer said...

No, this review was only on Section One of the book. The second section will be posted in June, the third in July and the fourth in August.

Kristin said...

Jennifer - I have an award for you over at my blog.

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Wow - fascinating!

Bill ;-)

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway: Seek Followers, please stop by...

Marg said...

You know I never really worry too much about pronunciation. As long as I recognise the character when they come back into the story, whatever I am calling them, then I am happy

Jennifer said...


It is a quirk of mine. I speak, read and write in several languages so I cringe knowing I am not pronouncing names of people and places properly, however, I still enjoyed Part One immensely and cannot wait to begin Part Two.

Heather said...

I'm seeing this book everywhere all of a sudden. Since I love all things British and historical fiction, I guess I'll have to make sure I read it this summer. Thanks!