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Gwenllian: Welsh Warrior Princess, The

  • £5.95
  • £0.00
  • Author: Peter Newton
  • Publication March 2002
  • Format: Paperback, 180x123 mm, 104 pages

The story of the heroic Welsh princess Gwenllïan (1097-1136) is told in vivid fashion portraying all the romance and harshness of the early middle ages in Wales. 31 black-and-white photographs and 2 maps.

Gwales Review
The story of Gwenllïan is certainly worth retelling. She, you may recall, was the daughter of Gruffydd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd. She became the wife of Gruffudd, the son of Rhys ap Tewdwr. Following the death of Henry I in 1135, a general rising was planned in South Wales against the Norman settlements. Gwenllïan led the forces of Deheubarth against the castle of Kidwelly, but was captured and beheaded on the spot which has since become known as Maes Gwenllïan.

In under a hundred pages, Peter Newton exposes the extraordinary events of the life of one of the greatest women in the history of Wales. I was left wondering what readership the book is intended for, however. From its style and content it would, at first, appear to be aimed at a teenage market. Yet there is no indication in the author's introduction, or on the blurb, to suggest that this is the case, and I therefore assume that it is intended for a general readership.

It attempts to popularize history, and I am completely in favour of that. But Peter Newton is frequently carried away by the power of words and, quite simply, overwrites: 'With heart pounding and adrenalin rushing through his veins Cynwrig grasped his chance with both hands.' See what I mean? One could overlook this, but it is not quite as easy to accept clumsy sentence construction. We find, for instance, a refernce to 'Cynwrig, who heralded from Edeirion ...' Heralded? We also learn that Gwenllïan 'would have been fit to burst if she had been restricted from joining her brothers in their vastly more enjoyable pastimes.'

I was left with the impression that the author had sent a hastily-prepared draft to the publisher and that it remained unedited afterwards. This is a pity because the potential of the subject is fascinating.

On the plus side, I should add that thirty-one excellent photographic illustrations are included, showing locations which are particularly associated with Gwenllïan.

Dewi Roberts