Tree of Leaf and Flame Tales from the Mabinogi
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Tree of Leaf and Flame Tales from the Mabinogi by Daniel Morden
Tree of Leaf and Flame is Daniel Morden's unique take on the tales of the Mabinogi. It's the perfect opportunity to hear these strange and fascinating tales retold by a storyteller who earns his living travelling Wales and holding audiences spellbound - just as the professional bards and troubadours did all those years ago. Tir na n-Og Award winner 2013.
A compelling cover and a captivating title will surely draw readers both young and old into the pages of this pocket-sized version of some tales of the Mabinogi, by the gifted storyteller Daniel Morden. His narrative technique is crisp and bardic. His simplicity of language and sentence structures balance the complexity of the stories themselves, which can so often be a hindrance to the understanding of younger readers. The repetition of half-remembered phrases, and the revisiting of traditional storytelling techniques, building to an inevitable crescendo of decisive action is hard to fault. Daniels treatment of some of the more horrific and risqu elements of this weird and sometimes ragged collection of legends is both sensitive and stark. Indeed, the whole essence of the book seems to be one of stark contrasts difficulties in balancing power and love, kingship and domesticity, reality and fantasy, todays world and the past, the half-living and the half-dead. The mirror image of Prince Pwyll as he exchanges his year-life with Arawn, seems to signify the very heart of the collection. Exchanges can be blessings or curses. Also at the heart of this publication are the evocative, and I must admit sometimes disturbing, scraperboard images by the talented Brett Breckon. The design and restrained colour of the tree and its branches on the textured dust jacket is hard to resist, and I particularly like the simple chapter-heading vignettes of the four creatures involved the stag, the starling, the field mouse and the eagle, so evocative of the Four Branches themselves. Bretts interpretation of the text is best when he concentrates on the humanity of the protagonists. Brn, Pwyll and Gwydion convince the eye, which may well be puzzled by the inanimate fountain and golden bowl of Annwns fortress, or the monstrous woman and the magic cauldron to each his own preference. Daniel Mordens voice seems to become that of Gwydion, the magicican storyteller himself. As the collection reaches its dramatic conclusion with the deaths of Lleu, Gronw and Blodeuwedd in the Fourth Branch, so the books title is cunningly revealed. A masterful interpretation in poetic prose. Like the narrator, I wish I could say that this is the end of the story, but our own unfinished stories of lifes pleasures and lifes troubles (even those of a young reader) will, I feel, continue to haunt us in the dual worlds we have encountered in this selection of tales. They have conjured up the world we know and believe in every day Hereford, Gloucester, the Irish Sea, the Tower of London as well as the mystical world of Celtic mythology, caught for Welsh culture and tradition in the tales of the Mabinogion. Together, or individually, we can follow in the footsteps of Pwyll and Pryderi and climb the hill at Arberth, where we too will be blessed or cursed by our choices. Chris S. Stephens It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council
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