The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton

Title: The Mabinogion Tetralogy
Authors: Anonymous, Evangeline Walton (translator), Betty Ballantine (Introduction)
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: July 31, 2016
Date Finished: May 6, 2017
Reading Duration: 281 days
Genre: Mythology/Welsh Mythology/Celtic Mythology/Irish Mythology, Fantasy, Classic

Pages: 720
Publication Date: April 1, 1980
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Media: Paperback

Shares Paradigms With: The Chronicles of Prydain, The Raven Cycle

The retelling of the epic Welsh myth that is “certainly among the top 5 fantasy series of the twentieth century” (sfsite.com).

The Mabinogion is to Welsh mythology what the tales of Zeus, Hera, and Apollo are to Greek myth. these tales constitute a powerful work of the imagination, ranking with Tokien’s Lord of the Rings novels and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. Evangeline Walton’s compelling rendition of these classic, thrilling stories of magic, betrayal, lost love, and bitter retribution include the encounter between Prince Pwyll and Arawn, the God of Death, which Pwyll survives by agreeing to kill the one man that Death cannot fell, and the tale of bran the blessed and his family’s epic struggle for the throne.

The Mabinogion is internationally recognized as the world’s finest arc of Celtic mythology; Walton’s vivid retelling introduces an ancient world of gods and monsters, heroes, kings and quests, making accessible one of the greatest fantasy sagas of all time.


******Warning: Some mentions of rape as it pertains to the narrative.******

I first cut my teeth on Welsh Mythology with The Prydain Chronicles of Lloyd Alexander, books written for children, and rife with the myths of that land.  It was where I first saw the name “Gwydion” and heard the term “Son of Don” and “Math Son of Mathonwy.”  At the time I though Don and Mathonwy were the names of their fathers since lineage now and still flows through the father, but at that point in the history of Wales, the name of the mother was the line of kings.

Prydain did an excellent job of introducing the rich mythological history of Wales, and Mr. Alexander (who is actually from around my area) cited the Mabinogion as one of his sources, but as it was a children’s book, The Chronicles barely scratched the surface of the myths’ depths.  Though I read the series years ago (and haven’t had a chance to reread it again), I remembered the name of the source, and when the opportunity presented, obtained a copy of the volume in question.

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Top 5 Favorite Fictional Swords

I’ve been wanting to do this post for quite a while; the list has been sitting in my notes for several months now.  Oddly enough it came from a blogger I used to follow until they revealed in a post like this that they were not a fan of Final Fantasy (though they did have the Buster Sword from there…and some derisive comments grrr.  Well to each their own), and as they’d gotten the idea from yet another blog post, I don’t feel too bad doing my own especially since the five swords will be different.  They are presented in countdown order so #1 is my favorite fictional sword (three guesses what it is and what fandom it’s from.  If you’ve been following this blog for, oh, ten seconds, it should pretty plain to see).

I’m a fan of fantastic swords.  My paranormal romance novel The Serpent’s Tale features one with its name actually hidden in the title.  The sword, the Serpent’s Tail, is holy in nature and wielded by a dark angel/assassin.  All of the swords on the below list (save #2 since I wrote the story before I knew major details about that weapon) were great inspirations for this magical and slightly sentient weapon.

“We write by the light of every story we have ever read.”
-Richard Peck

I hope you enjoy the list and please feel free to comment what your favorite picks would be.  Also feel free to tag me if you do your own Top 5 (or Top 10 or Top 17.  I don’t judge) post as I’d love to see that, too!


5. Dyrnwyn

Sword Type: Long Sword
Origin: Welsh Legend
Story: The Chronicles of Prydain
Medium::Book, Film
Wielder:Rhydderch Hael (Welsh Legend), Taran (The Chronicles of Prydain), Gwydion (The Chronicles of Prydain), Princess Eilonwy (borne but not wielded) (The Chronicles of Prydain

Dyrnwyn is one of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain and is also was one of the first magical swords I came across.  I read The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander when I was quite young, and the idea of the sentient sword was still fresh and new in my adolescent head.  I absolutely loved the idea of a weapon that could tell what lay in your heart of hearts and would treat you accordingly.  It seemed a far finer system of justice than any concocted by humanity.

In the Chronicles Dyrnwyn is found by the Princess Eilonwy in the barrows of Spiral Castle when she, Taran, and the rest were escaping.  She took it due it being “the best sword” there, though at the time, she could not know how “best” it was.  Attempting to draw it seemed futile though the companions were able to discern there was an inscription upon the blade, and part of it had been scratched out.

It’s not until the short story The Sword from The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain that Drynwyn’s origin is discovered.  The sword was originally owned by King Rhitta whose own greed and avarice caused the weapon to kill its owner for written upon the blade are the words:

“Draw Dyrnwyn, only those of noble worth [sometimes mistranslated as “royal blood”], to rule with justice, to strike down evil.  Who wields it in good cause shall slay even the lord of death.”

There is such a dearth of justice in our world, and having a sword that would judge a king as equally as a cobbler is something very appealing indeed.  Dyrnwyn does indeed slay the lord of death, but that’s a tale you’ll have to read yourself.

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