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The Meat Tree

(New Tales from the Mabinogion #3)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  65 ratings  ·  15 reviews
A dangerous tale of desire, DNA, incest and flowers plays out within the wreckage of an ancient spaceship in The Meat Tree: an absorbing retelling of one of the best-known Welsh myths by prize-winning writer and poet, Gwyneth Lewis.

An elderly investigator and his female apprentice hope to extract the fate of the ship's crew from its antiquated virtual reality g
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 2010 by Seren
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  65 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Jen Campbell
Had to DNF this one, will talk about it in a wrap up.
David Hebblethwaite
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is one of the latest two volumes in Seren Books’ series reworking the medieval Welsh tales of the Mabinogion. I don’t really know those myths, but, luckily for me, there’s a handy synopsis at the back of each book that helped me get up to speed. However, when I read the synopsis in Gwyneth Lewis’s The Meat Tree (based on the fourth branch of the Mabinogion, the story of Blodeuwedd), I thought, how do you make a novel out of this, when it’s so disjointed by comparison?

Well, Lewis tackles that issue head-on
Dec 30, 2017 added it
Pretty good. This engaged the reader in the story of the Fourth Branch well and built up suspense and mystery effectively. However, the ending was extremely disappointing and scientifically inaccurate and didn't resolve the mysteries in a satisfying way at all. Enjoyable easy read. I really liked the stuff about the stories reflecting the history of the people but I didn't actually understand a lot of it... which I don't think was my fault.
Science fiction meets The Mabinogion. Unusual. I wasn't sure how it would all come together, but actually it did so quite well: it wasn't a strange mash-up, but a melding together that happened slowly, allowing the reader to keep pace. I thought it was pretty well done, and I think it's possibly my favourite so far of this series of retellings.

Have to say, though, I'm not reading any of them for characters, because they're so much more focused on a clever new tilt on whichever myth t
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Modern telling of a story from the Mabinogion. As I did not know the story at all, having not been brought up on Welsh stories it was interesting to see how the story unfolded in the most unexpected and sometimes rather shocking way. The book is set in the future with an inspector of abandoned space craft and his apprentice. In order to find out why the vessel they are currently working on has been abandoned they decide to participate in a virtual reality game that it appears the crew had been p ...more
T. Rhodes
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant re-telling of classic Welsh myth!
Feb 24, 2017 marked it as dnf
Gave up on this at page 134. A little too much casual mentioning of rape for my liking. This isn't the kind of writing style I like either. An interesting premise but it just felt pointless and distant as I read on. Basically, it just wasn't very good. Sad times.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
The Meat Tree is one of eight novels published by Seren, an independent Welsh publisher, in which contemporary Welsh writers reimagine the traditional tales of the Mabinogian for the twenty-first century, (or in the case of The Meat Tree, for the twenty-third.)

The Meat Tree is based on the story of Blodeuwedd, a woman made of flowers, incidentally the same story that Alan Garner used in The Owl Service, if anyone has read that. According to the author It's a tale of 'rape, incest, be
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it
The Meat Tree combines two genres I love to read but often aren’t combined in literature: Welsh fiction and SF. Lewis manages to breathe new life into an old tale and creates an original yet faithful story. However it isn’t without its flaws. The choice to use just the two characters’ thoughts to narrate the story was ambitious and doesn’t always work. Half way through the novel there’s a clunky bit where the Inspector asks himself: So what do we know so far about this ship? and goes on to descr ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After years of intending to get into this series, I just finished reading "The Meat Tree", one of Seren Books' 10 volume "New Stories From the Mabinogion" - each written by a different author in a different style. This volume, by Gwyneth Lewis, is a retelling of the Fourth Branch set in outer space 200 years in the future. While it is a huge shift in setting, the narrative makes good use of ship's logs and VR technology as storytelling techniques. I thought the author brought some interesting in ...more
Nov 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-sci-fi
As a standalone science fiction novel (measured up against something like Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris) it’s not a classic; it feels like a novelisation of an episode of The Outer Limits and I’m talking about the nineties relaunch not the sixties originals: perfectly watchable, reasonably high production values, ties everything up neatly at the end but missing something.

As an adaptation of the source material and an introduction to it the book does a pretty decent job and I would think those who have to study the
Gemma Williams
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. I first found out about the Blodeuwedd story when I was at school and we read the 'owl service' I fell in love with the story and bought a book of welsh myths immediately. About two weeks ago I went to see Gwyneth Lewis talking about some of her work and bought this book, until then I had no idea that the series had been written. I'm very glad I went and I'm very glad that I chose this book to read (my first book written by her) I will be reading more by Gwyneth Lewis a ...more
Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it
An ambitious and complex retelling of the Blodeuwedd myth - the woman of flowers from the Mabinogion - set on a spaceship and with the rules of virtual reality taking the place of myth. The main problem I had with the book was the complexity of the underlying myth, which I didn't know prior to reading this. As the book does so much with the myth in addition to its basic elements it gets pretty mind-boggling. But the lyrical elements are beautiful and the sci fi complications do add up to a worth ...more
Lin Howells
May 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Not over keen on science fiction- I prefer the Mabinogion. This story is derivative, contrived and I think, self-conscious.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This one is just weird, makes me want to read more about Welsh myths.
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Gwyneth Lewis was Wales' National Poet from 2005-06, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. She has published eight books of poetry in Welsh and English. Chaotic Angels (Bloodaxe Books, 2005) brings together the poems from her three English collections, Parables & Faxes, Zero Gravity and Keeping Mum. Her latest book is Sparrow Tree. Gwyneth wrote the six-foot-high words for the front of Cardiff's Wales Mill ...more

Other books in the series

New Tales from the Mabinogion (8 books)
  • White Ravens
  • The Ninth Wave
  • The Dreams of Max and Ronnie
  • The White Trail
  • The Prince's Pen
  • See How They Run
  • Bird, Blood, Snow
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