Review: Brothers of Gwynedd, Book One: Sunrise in the West by Edith Pargeter

The Brothers of Gwynedd: The Legend of the First True Prince of Wales

Book One: Sunrise in the West

by Edith Pargeter

Pages: 800
Pub Date: May 1, 2010
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark

Edith Pargeter's novel, The Brothers of Gwynedd is comprised of four stories: Sunrise in the West, The Dragon at Noonday, The Hounds of Sunset and Afterglow and Nightfall.

For this review we will be focusing on the first story: Sunrise in the West, which tells the story of Llewelyn ap Grruffyd (also called Llewelyn the Last) of Wales, grandson to Llewelyn the Great, through the eyes of his clerk, friend and closest confidante Samson. Samson is truly an invaluable narrator with his keen sense of insight and candidness. He's a character that you can't help but like immediately and I don't think this novel would have the depth that it does were it written first person. I believe that some people in our lives know us better than we do ourselves and thus can explain it more clearly, so through Samson, I feel I know the real Llewelyn.

Through a series of events including the death of their father and the imprisonment of Llewelyn's mother and brothers at the English court, and with King Henry III encroaching bit by bit into Wales it primarily falls to Llewelyn tohelp unite his country and drive the English out, though he is but the second son, not the heir. Like his grandfather and namesake Llewelyn dreamed of a complete Wales, united under one leader, one Prince.

Opposition to Llewelyn's ambition doesn't just come from afar, but close to home when his brothers take up arms against him and fight for a bigger piece of the Welsh pie. Llewelyn's victory and justice are swiftly dealt and he is now ready to take on King Henry III of England.

I have to admit that when I first started this book my initial feeling was one of confusion. Within the first few pages, I was baffled as to how was who and it doesn't help that they all seem to have the same name. But, hang in there, I promose it all became clear soon enough and there is a family tree to refer to. Pargeter's writing style took a little getting used to with the long sentences, but once you slow down and really savor the words it's quite beautiful and almost prose-like. And there are some excellent quotes throughout, my favorite being:
"So does the impetus of habit continue to carry us when the heart has ceased to put forth any power or passion"
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading The Brothers of Gwynedd but bear in mind that is no light read by an means, however it is an extremely rewarding one! Savor this you would a fine wine! It is well worth the journey!



  1. This sounds good, but I guess that I, as a beginner when it comes to historical fiction, shouldn't exactly start with this book.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Thanks for the review. I am actually interested in the fact that they have re-released this book. I bought a used copy about a year or so ago, and at that time it was almost impossible to find. I have had it on my bookcase since, but haven't been able to get to it. I am really looking forward to it, and am glad that you said it is worth the time. I think I will break my reading up into the individual stories.

  3. Your funny comment "they all seemed to have the same name" reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude!

  4. This is a great book & a wonderful set. Great review.

  5. Have to love that family tree in teh beginning :)

  6. this sounds wonderful--and i love this chunk of history. have you read sharon kay penman's welsh trilogy?

  7. Sounds like a series of books I will have to clear a chunk of time to read. Having it in one volume is a bit intimidating. I'll need no distractions so I can get all the characters and plot lines straight.

  8. This one sounds pretty good. And thanks for the advice on sticking with the book for the first few chapters! Oh and I wanted to let you know I gave you an award on my blog! (:

  9. You are right in that it is no light read, it took all of my concentration to read it, but it was well worth it!

  10. It's great that you loved this one. I am not looking forward to the rest of the book, I hope it picks up for me. I wonder if I am not going to be a Wales lover, but I'll leave it to the Penman trilogy to see if I can enjoy those before I decide or not.

  11. This is one part of British history that I have been unable to get into... maybe reading some Penman or Plaidy on these eras would spark my interest.

  12. When she writes as Edith Pargeter she's a bit tough to read, but her Brother Cadfael series as Ellis Peters are a delight. I wonder if Source Books will rerelease them.

  13. This sounds like a great read, I have heard good things about it.


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