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Prince of Annwn

(Mabinogion Tetralogy #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  550 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
From the back cover:
Evangeline Walton is the author of Prince of Annwn, The Children of Llyr, The Song of Rhiannon and The Island of the Mighty - each a branch of the epic Welsh book of mythology, The Mabinogion.
The Saturday Review said about her work: "These books are not only the best fantasies of the 20th century, but also great works of fiction. They are actual retelli
Board book, 192 pages
Published February 4th 1992 by Scribner Paper Fiction (first published November 1974)
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Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evangeline Walton first wrote the Mabinogion Tetralogy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Only the fourth book in the sequence was published at the time, under the title The Virgin and the Swine. The series was rediscovered in the early 1970s; The Virgin and the Swine was reprinted as The Island of the Mighty, and the other three books saw publication for the first time. Prince of Annwn is the first in the sequence but was the last to be published. It was a nominee for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awa ...more
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 ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be the most mythical of the Mabinogion, with a story about a Welsh prince exchanging places with Arawn, god of the underworld. He discovers Arawn was kind of hoping he'd defeat an invading foreign god, Havgan, while he's there, since Arawn couldn't do it the first time around. If you were wondering whether Pwyll manages to defeat Havgan, I... won't spoil it for you that he does, but I will just say it's more a question of what Pwyll has to sacrifice in order to do so ;)

The second part o
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely enjoyed the descriptions of ominous happenings, Walton’s evocative language, and the straightforward attitude toward sex, but I found the stories too simplistic. I would like to read more basic retellings of Welsh mythology in a Bullfinchish manner rather than continue this series that fills out the stories beyond their original telling. I love the classic Greek story of Hercules and his young companions competing against the universal constructs, but flesh that 3 page story out to ...more
The first of a tetralogy of short novels, published in an omnibus edition. A little hard to follow at times, but a good story. The main problem was the profusion of typos. I'm talking big typos too, like a word misspelled in the title of one of the books in the inside flap of the dust jacket. I mean, seriously? Here's the punchline: the publisher of this edition is Overlook Press. Yes, they overlooked quite a lot. Ba-dum-chah. You can't make this stuff up.
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful find. Simple language, evocative imagining of the legends. Reminded me of a translation of the stories of Cuchulain I read (some time ago, can't remember author, argh). Plenty of gender conflict material here with the Old Tribes matrilineal (ignorant of father's role in child creation) and the New Tribes patrilineal.
Matthew Talamini
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is pretty fun. I don't know the Mabinogion at all, so I can't say how accurate or not it is. It's definitely a great adventure though! I particularly like the severed heads flying around; the language, which is thoroughly salted with good description; the titanic moral struggles; the prevalence of virtue and honor (although of a peculiar kind I wouldn't personally recommend); and the liberal use of capital letters, as for the words 'Shadow', 'Beginning', 'Fate' and 'Illusion'.

A couple thing
Octavia Cade
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mythology
3.5 stars, rounding up to 4. My favourite of Walton's Mabinogion retellings thus far, I think because the conflict here is primarily internal rather than a series of battles in which relatively unsympathetic characters take part. There's still plenty of action, but the action here is more metaphorical - when Pwyll is fighting the bird-demon, for instance, it's clear that the bird is representative of self-doubt rather than a straight-up feathery monster. And because the story is so focused on Pw ...more
Fraser Sherman
Evangeline Walton's retelling of the first branch of the Mabinogion (actually the fourth to come out) is beautifully written, incredibly eerie in the magic, and a great story too. In Part One, Pwyll, prince of Dyved is lured into the underworld of Annwn where he must take the place of Arawn, lord of Death, for a battle with an invading death god (fairly obviously embodying the most militant, vicious aspects of Christianity). In Part Two, Pwyll must take a bride and winds up chosen by Rhiannon, a ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mythology, own-it
4.5 stars. Evangeline Walton had a deft hand at creating a coherent narrative and still keeping the feel of the myths. I haven't read the Mabinogion myself, but this reminds me strongly of many Irish tales that I've read, and of many Arthurian legends.
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of how Watson finally achieved literary fame is a remarkable one - worth looking up. And this book is so good.
Don Incognito
Notwithstanding that this is only the one story, don't think of this as the Mabinogion even in some sort of modernized form. (I have read this as part of the collected Mabinogion Tetralogy, but am debating whether I want to continue.) Think of it more as a modern fantasy based on the Mabinogion. Because in my opinion, this no longer greatly resembles the original stories (the Four Branches), mutatis mutandis. Too much has been added that did not follow as a reasonable extrapolation; the characte ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story, but the telling was sub-par. A plot-hole in the first half really bothered me: (view spoiler)

The writing, I find, is a bit too deliberately poetic -- I've just finished reading another bo
Strangely, I have never actually read these four books from beginning to end. I have owned them, given them, lent them, recommended them, discussed them, but never just read them. So now I am beginning to rectify that mistake.

This first book of the tetralogy is every bit as wonderful as I knew it to be. A great story, beautifully told, it is faithful enough to the original to be deeply satisfying. Walton does add a pronounced anti-Christian message which is not found in the original, and the ad
A lyrical, earthy retelling of the Mabinogion (medieval Welsh tale). I was surprised to find I liked the hero of the story--medieval heroes are generally either terribly stupid or complete prigs, and Pwyll is not bright but brighter than many of his countrymen. This, the first part of Walton's four-part retelling, seems mostly concerned with the transition between the old, pagan ways and Christianity, which is to come. I wish the oracles and gods had spent a little less time fortelling what woul ...more
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A retelling rather than a translation, Walton's language is so rich and refreshing that it invites reading aloud to savor each word. I found myself underlining especially well-expressed passages. The book powerfully portrays an ancient Celtic worldview, although it must be kept in mind that since little is known of the actual beliefs of the Druids, much is speculation and imagination. The author sometimes inserts commentary on our own times in the form of prophecy, and she has conflicts with Chr ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: cymru, fiction-20th-c
This is the second I've read of Walton's retellings of the Mabinogion. This isn't as artfully composed as the first she wrote, The Island of the Mighty. In that story, her politics seemed to flow naturally, but here they only reminded me of the contrast between the way the Celts treated women and the way we romantics would like to imagine they did. But, Walton fleshes out Pwyll's journey through the underworld with haunting images that help move the story into nearly a bildungsroman and deepen i ...more
It was very pretty and I am looking forward to reading the others. It's interesting to read it alongside Siodne Davies more literal translation of the Mabinogion. The stories are bizarre and odd and do not feel entirely human. Which I like. Still, I do think the greatest fantasy of the 20th century is a bit of a stretch. The Silmarillion, guys. Arawn is weird, but: Feanor. Luthien. Numenor. The fall of Gondolin. Get outta here!
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know this is incredibly ridiculous, but I searched for this book after discovering it is one of Stevie Nicks favorites & explains the story of Rhiannon of my favorite songs. I'm so glad I read this book. it was more than I expected. Very beautiful story with love, hate, drama, and death. No wonder Stevie wrote a song about her :)
Greg Strandberg
Apr 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This series was based on old myths and the writing certainly should have been updated. Why did I read all four of these books? I have no idea, although they were fast, thank goodness!

Overall I'd urge people to check out the Top 100 fantasy lists for books you'd love - this one I think you'd only like at best.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: celtic-myth, fiction


Stuck on Chap. 1 at the moment - struggling to find the motivation to read it again. I know this is a wonderful book, but I've been there once and there is SO much to read! :) Must be disciplined! :)

Katie Daniels
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've been wanting to catch up on your Welsh mythology, this is a good way to do it. Reasonably accurate, well written, dramatic--all you need is a pronunciation guide for all the vowelless words!
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
an excellent telling of a traditional tale with some adaptations for 20th century thought. very much the sort of story that could be spun over a couple of hours in front of a fire, and none woukd grudge the time.
Jan 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 really, maybe even 4 in a different mood.
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I randomly stumbled across this book and while it's not the greatest thing I've ever read, I'm intrigued enough to read the final three branches of the Mabinogion.
Walton's retelling of the first branch of the Mabinogion breathes new life into the old tale. Alternatively heroic and introspective, it is a joy to read. It will make you think
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never read any Welsh Mythology. Thoroughly enjoyed this.
Jane Vendetti Brakhage
I enjoyed the book. Beautiful story.
Mark Noce
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I think I just foudd my new favorite series! ...more to come once I read all of her great books:)
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love. Love love love. How did it take me 28 years to read this?
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Evangeline Walton was the pen name of Evangeline Wilna Ensley, an American author of fantasy fiction. She remains popular in North America and Europe because of her “ability to humanize historical and mythological subjects with eloquence, humor and compassion”.

Other books in the series

Mabinogion Tetralogy (4 books)
  • The Children of Llyr
  • The Song of Rhiannon
  • Island of the Mighty
“Death is the one friend who never fails any man.” 2 likes
“Impari lentamente, mio amato, ma impari. E ciò che si impara lentamente scende più nel profondo. Voi uomini e i vostri Dei! Vi beffate della Madre per la sua lentezza da lumaca, perché crea ciecamente al buio. Tuttavia quando create senza di Lei, in fretta e alla luce, create davvero ciecamente, dando forma, magari, alla morte di un mondo! Ebbene, avvelenate il mare e il cielo, l'aria che respirate, e persino la dolce pelle bruna del suo seno, che Essa vi ha sempre permesso di lacerare per darvi le messi. Uccidete e uccidete finché non rimane più niente se non ossa nude su una terra squallida e contaminata. La Madre è potente; Essa ha molti corpi, e il vostro mondo è solo uno di quelli. Nella Sua potenza Essa può tuttavia guarire le vostre ferite e far rifiorire la terra, sì: allevare voi uomini, anche se deve partorire di nuovo tutta la vostra razza. Perché una buona madre è paziente; sa che un bambino inciampa più volte prima d'imparare a camminare...” 1 likes
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