Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mabinogion” as Want to Read:
The Mabinogion
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mabinogion

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  4,839 Ratings  ·  222 Reviews
Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and an intriguing interpretation of British history--these are just some of the themes embraced by the anonymous authors of the eleven tales that make up the Welsh medieval masterpiece known as the Mabinogion. They tell of Gwydion the shape-shifter, who can create a woman out of flowers; of Math the magician whose feet must lie in the l ...more
Paperback, 293 pages
Published May 11th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1200)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mabinogion, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Mabinogion

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mary Jones
I'm splitting the difference between my love of the medieval collection (i.e. Y Mabinogi and other Welsh tales) and Lady Charlotte Guest's sometimes-bowdlerized, romanticized, nineteenth-century (and I mean that in the worst possible way) translation (which would garner at best two stars, because I'm feeling generous). The real advantage of this book is if you're interested in the history of how the Mabinogion has been treated in the English language; otherwise, you should decide if you want

Oct 06, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading the Mabinogion after a childhood spent reading books that were based on these Welsh myths: The Chronicles of Prydain, The Dark is Rising, The Owl Service... I recall that those retellings/recyclings were a bit more user-friendly, but what I love about mythology is the concentrated nature of it. These are oral traditions boiled down to their essence--the versions finally set to paper are meant to communicate what was really important to someone nearly 1000 years ago, from stories that ...more
Supervisor wanted me to use a different translation to my old one (the Everyman 1993 edition). So I had to get this one. It's supposed to be more accurate -- I don't know about that, but it does seem a bit more immediate and colourful than the old Everyman edition. The little I know suggests it is a good translation, and it's certainly readable, and has a full complement of explanatory notes, introduction, etc, which is more than I can say for the Everyman edition. Slightly odd order of tales, n ...more
The odd thing about collections like this is the need to drop any idea of an original version of the stories. Stories are told and changed, always in flux until they are caught between the pages of a book. Then a version is set in ink, the way that maybe one person told them in one place and at one time. For instance some of the stories have digressions giving spurious reasons for the names of places. It is easy to imagine a storyteller changing those as they went from place to place to set thei ...more
Eddie Watkins
Oct 08, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: froggy princes
Recommended to Eddie by: John Cowper Powys
Shelves: myth
A wonderfully curious collection of old Welsh tales. Not exactly literature, not exactly folktales, not exactly mythology. Like folk tales and mythology it’s the expression of a collective mindset, yet it’s also the product of individual (now anonymous) authors elaborating upon or distilling long existent oral tales, more than likely preserved across centuries by highly skilled bards. The introduction refers to them as Wondertales, actually an official subset of Folktales. Sounds wonderful to me ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a group of 12 Welsh legends that feature King Arthur along with other kings. They are stories passed down orally and have mnemonic devices imbedded in them to aide in the telling so they sometimes sound odd to our modern ears. There is so much here that appears in current day literature. There are magical creatures and wells and rocks and carpets, shape shifting, giants, fierce warriors, fair maidens, unbelievably delicious food, and chesslike games, etc. everything that appears in moder ...more
Mark Adderley
This is an excellent translation of the Mabinogion. Unlike Gantz, Davies uses familiar spellings of names, which I like; unlike Jones and Jones, she divides dialogue up into paragraphs--a conversation can be pretty confusing when it's printed as a single paragraph. Above all, though, Davies translates for oral performance--they're wonderful stories to read aloud. Occasionally, when the action is getting intense, Davies will switch to the present tense, as the Welsh originals do. It makes the nar ...more
Jun 28, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, folklore
The Mabinogion is a collection of ancient Welsh folk stories, and Lady Charlotte Guest did a brilliant job bringing them into English. She not only made them read like stories and not dry translations, but she added a ton of her own notes and research, like about places in Wales that were still connected with these traditional stories into the nineteenth century when she did her work. (I read this in hard copy, not on Kindle, but I couldn't find the edition I read.)
Mar 21, 2015 Suzannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always been extremely fond of the Mabinogion, and it was delightful to reread these stories (in Gwyn Jones's translation). Manawydan the son of Llyr and The Lady of the Fountain are two favourites, and I love the distinctive Welshness of these stories.
May 31, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, this is infinitely more entertaining after just having finished Tears to Tiara, on account of that Celtic mythology translates to anime *so well* that it is actually makes more sense in the context of the show than in literature. I mean, this is perfectly normal behavior for any self-respecting Celtic hero. Totally. Tame for a warp spasm!

Also, you can shout ARAAAWWWNNN every time he shows up. Because why not?

The Chretien/Mabinogion Arthuriana stories are so hilariously broship it's ri
Aug 04, 2008 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How does a person even presume to review a book that has survived 700 years, containing stories that survived close to their current form without anyone writing them down for a further 300 years?

I originally picked up the book because Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain is based on Welsh myth, Mabinogion is _the_ collection of Welsh myth, and is even acknowledged by the author as one of his sources. Who would want to read some of the proto-stories that gave us the Black Cauldron, and Arwan
Mar 20, 2015 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Krissy
The Mabinogion is a collection of medieval Welsh tales that makes up a rich mythological tradition. The tales themselves are only tangentially related - only one character, Pryderi, appears in all four branches. Nevertheless the tales are fascinating, rich and varied in their interpretation. This translation, Sioned Davies, was recommended to me as a good starting point so I happily took it. I'll likely try out other translations as the year goes on.

Not being too thoroughly versed in Welsh cultu
Mar 26, 2011 Basicallyrun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asnc-y
I love the stripped-down style of the original tales (well. Apart from the, what, five pages of all the knights that were at Arthur's court that day in one of the tales. I imagine that sounded lovely and lyrical when it was being performed aloud, but in written form it does drag a little) and I think Jeffrey Gantz has done a brilliant job in capturing a slightly archaic, but still perfectly readable cadence here. I also like the way names are left untranslated in the text, but are usually footno ...more
(Sixth book/seventh text in the readathon.)

It's been a long time since I read this in its entirety, if I ever did. I picked it up since I seemed to be on a role with Arthurian stuff, and was surprised to find how many of the stories do have some Arthurian aspect. I was under the impression it was only one or two.

I like the Joneses translation, although the 'thou'ing gets a little irritating and hard to read at times -- perhaps mostly once it's 8am and you haven't slept that night.

Interesting tha
I have read several versions of The Mabinogion, but would love to track down this edition. Illustrations by Alan Lee: what could be better? He names certain of his influences as Arthur Rackham, Edward Dulac, and the Pre-Raphaelites, on his 'author' page here.
Jan 25, 2013 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not really a review, but I was asked for a opinion, so:

I'm nowhere near a qualified scholar of anything Welsh; therefore, I probably missed a lot of intricacies. On the top of that, I read the translation that is generally viewed as inferior. But needs (student's ever-empty pockets) must, so free ebook on smartphone during the commute it was.

Things I noticed:
-Invisibility and magic cauldrons play a great part, even in latter, Christian-influenced works. There are some elaborate illusions as well
Aug 11, 2012 Debra rated it really liked it
For those who are serious about understanding the roots of all storytelling, this is definitely a must-read. This book definitely helps you understand where the most common formulas for storylines come from, consisting of common uses such as the magic number of 3, fairies and the otherworld, and the connections to and from both parallel worlds. This is definitely one of the ultimate classics of European languages. This book is a great collection and documentation of the oral practices of storyte ...more
russell barnes
I'd heard of the Mabinogion, but just assumed it was just a Welsh version of Chaucer, and at 2 in a second hand bookshop it seemed a decent gamble.

Having read it, I now seem to have accidentally read three quarters of the key medieval texts about King Arthur. This isn't necessarily a terrible thing as all three have been quite enjoyable, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my new-found knowledge about corrupt folios, Red Books, White Books and the movement of the legends from Wales and C
Sep 07, 2011 Andrew rated it it was amazing
I have five different translations of the Mabinogi, and this is the first one where I was able to finish the whole book, so on that basis alone Davies has my undying affection. Of the others, Ford's has works that this edition lacks, so if I can ever find my copy of it, I will read those to supplement the Davies edition. My only real problem with this translation is that when the "exciting parts" happen (usually the climax of a story), the narrative switches to present tense. Davies claims this ...more
May 21, 2013 Keith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best collection of old Welsh fairy tales about Arthur and his knights. Dr. Aaron Kleist made us read a few of these in undergrad days for Arthurian lit but it ravished me so much I swore I'd re-read it (all of it!) someday. That day came in April.

The stories I remember having a full-blown aesthetic experience with were just as good as I remember (Owein and the Countess of the Fountain, How Culwych Won Olwen) but also out of this world were The Dream of Maxen and Geraint and Enid. Highly rec
Jun 29, 2014 Katrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is a classic that I finally had to read. many stories or parts of them were already known to me. now I read the whole mabinogion. of course some parts are pretty much ridiculous from our point of view. but the stories are rich with mystery, history, magic, mythology and most of all love for wales. this is what made me read and enjoy it very much. many places are known to me. what a great collection, for me this ranges in the same league with other sagas I have read, like the edda, kale ...more
Christine S.r.
This is a collection of Celtic medieval stories--the 'Mabinogi' and a number of variants of Arthurian legends. I love the strangeness of these stories, despite how often they're retold, and how familiar I am with some of them in other versions. They're repetitive in subject matter and structure, but have a dream-like logic: with bizarre transformations, magical elements, and even segue and dropped plot-threads.
David Kenvyn
Mar 10, 2014 David Kenvyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Returning to my Welsh roots. These stories are a wonderful mythological understanding of the history of these islands, including the foundation myth that is the story of Arthur. Don't worry about not being able to pronouce the names - no-one will know. Just lie back and enjoy the stories of knights and monsters and enchantments and magic animals and beautiful women and dreams and all those things that make up the best of stories ever told.
Zeer curieuze en ook nogal rommelige verhalen. De meeste gaan na een veelbelovend begin via allerlei zijweggetjes als een nachtkaars uit. In hoeverre dat komt door onvolledige overlevering weet ik niet. Het is jammer dat er geen uitgebreide noten bij zitten, want veel blijft nu onverklaard. Ook alle "lo! & behold"s in de ouderwetse vertaling irriteerden me een beetje.
Sep 27, 2008 Corbin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: myth nerds, Traci Harding fans, Arthurian legend buffs, maruts, misanthropes, mystics
Imagine King Arthur and his knights snuck up on the Tylweth Teg, clubbed them over the head, stole their coyote stories, and then changed all the endings.

In other words, this is a book about just how insufferably rude human beings can manage to be, just by upholding the ideals of their cultures of origin.
Mark Adderley
The main problem with this is that it's a really boring translation. It has excellent notes. There's a much better translation now available, by Sioned Davies.The Mabinogion
Jul 31, 2014 Janey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was never going to get read was it? Knights doing knightly things and the odd token damsel in distress...
Jun 11, 2012 Morganu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Mabinogion is a compilation of short stories of fantasy and folk tales to tell us a little about the history of the beautiful Wales
Feb 04, 2013 GaryandRuth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful stories from Welsh mythology. Currently re-reading :)
Nov 17, 2015 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
Love the Mab
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Society of Ha...: The Mabinogion 1 6 Jun 02, 2016 12:36PM  
  • Early Irish Myths and Sagas
  • The Táin: From the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge
  • A Celtic Miscellany: Translations from the Celtic Literatures
  • The History of the Kings of Britain
  • Complete Works
  • Celtic Heritage
  • Arthurian Romances
  • The Celtic Heroic Age
  • The Journey Through Wales & The Description of Wales
  • The Lais of Marie de France
  • Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and the Fianna of Ireland
  • The Kalevala
  • Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions
  • Tristan: With the Tristran of Thomas
  • Parzival
  • The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology
  • Y Gododdin
  • The Prose Edda
Books can be attributed to "Unknown" when the author or editor (as applicable) is not known and cannot be discovered. If at all possible, list at least one actual author or editor for a book instead of using "Unknown".

Books whose authorship is purposefully withheld should be attributed instead to Anonymous.
More about Unknown...

Share This Book

“Since thou wilt not remain here, chieftain, thou shalt receive the boon whatsoever thy tongue may name, as far as the wind dries, and the rain moistens, and the sun revolves, and the sea encircles, and the earth extends; save only my ship; and my mantle; and Caledvwlch, my sword; and Rhongomyant, my lance; and Wynebgwrthucher, my shield; and Carnwenhau, my dagger; and Gwenhwyvar, my wife” 3 likes
“So they took the blossoms of the oak, and the blossoms of the broom, and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet, and produced from them a maiden, the fairest and most graceful that man ever saw. And they baptized her, and gave her the name of Blodeuwedd.” 1 likes
More quotes…