Originally reviewed May 28th, 2011
Prince of Annwn is the first in a series of retellings of the Four Branches of the Mabinogion. Evangeline Walton wasn’t Welsh, but nonetheless she made herself very familiar with the sources, and while she added to the story, there was nothing that I could see that wasn’t in the spirit of it. She expanded and humanised the stories of the Mabinogion, giving Pwyll more of a journey and an arc of character growth, and adding a conflict between older faiths and new ones. At times there was a bit of endorsement of the ‘Universal Spirit’ idea: “In essence all Gods are the same, and one; but few mortals have glimpsed that Untellable Glory, and no human mind may hold it.” Which, given that I’m a Unitarian Universalist, appeals to me.
Evangeline Walton’s prose is clear and easy to read, and while at times there’s a touch of the archaic about the phrasing and such, it doesn’t get ridiculous or bogged down in it, and sometimes Pwyll’s thoughts are refreshingly modern and direct. There are some beautiful passages, too. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the tetralogy.