Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: "Sunrise in the West": The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargetter

As part of a re-release of Edith Pargetter's historical novel, The Brothers of Gwynedd, Sourcebooks is running a Summer Reading Program that will cover each of the four different sections of this 800 page book. Since I've only covered the first section, I thought I'd do a basic introduction of the book, and dive into some of the characters and premise that the story is built on.

Set in the British Isles, The Brothers of Gwynedd is a large-scale history and narrative of the struggle between the ruling families of Wales, against England's King Henry II. The story starts off around 1229 AD, and begins instantly with Lord David of Wales imprisoned in England. His wife and young family chose to join him, and are brought to King Henry's court. While they believed their family would be reunited, they are virtually imprisoned as well, with a story that ends in the tragic death of Lord David, and the family returning to Wales. Llewelyn became the new Prince of Wales, but is not only threatened by the English court's interest in his lands, but also in his younger brothers, who feel disconnected from their brother, and have their own ideals for their homeland.

Told from a male perspective, I soon noticed that this story was thick with history, heavy plot lines, and difficult character names. I have a real interest in history (and was literally two classes away from a double major in college), but can honestly say I knew very little about the history of Wales, nor its struggles against England. Since the novel is full of what feels like historical details, I soon realized that this was not a book for casual storytelling, and I quickly had to change my approach to reading. The reading, itself, went pretty slowly for me, and I had to get out a pen to keep track of the characters that made up this story of medieval Wales. In this opening section, it felt very important to get down the basic connection between the characters, and I have high hopes that there is much to come as the brothers fight one another and to save the very land they love.

As mentioned, there are three more sections of the story to come, so I am going to wait to see how the story rolls out to give it my full review. If you'd like to learn more about The Brothers of Gwynedd, there are a wide variety of great reviewers who have responded to this opening section. See one of the following reviewers for more information:

May 17 Reviews
The Burton Review
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
A Reader's Respite
History Undressed
Linda Banche Romance Author
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Royal Reviews

May 18 Reviews
Between the Pages
The Broken Teepee
Books and Coffee
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff
Passages to the Past
The Book Faery
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore
Martha's Bookshelf

May 19 Reviews
Beth Fish
Deb's Book Bag
Book Tumbling
A Work in Progress
Stiletto Storytime
Queen of Happy Endings

May 20 Reviews
The Literate Housewife
Reading Adventures
Books Like Breathing
Kailana's Written World
Confessions of a Muse in the Fog
Wendy's Minding Spot
Mrs. Q Book Addict
The Life and Lies of a Flying Inanimate Object
Starting Fresh

May 21 Reviews
Loving Heart Mommy
Peeking Between the Pages
Celtic Lady's Ramblings
The Book Tree
My Reading Room

May 23 Reviews
Carla Nayland's Blog

I'll be posting my review of the second section, "The Dragon at Noonday" on June 23rd. Watch for this, and other reviews by my fellow Summer Reading members.


  1. I'm cruious to read what you think of the other parts of the story. I've seen a lot of reviews of this part of the book. It seems interesting, but the slow reading puts me off from trying it myself for now.

  2. I can't wait for your review. I almost reviewed this one-but I never seem to finish these types of books.