REVIEW by Cathryn A Charnell-White

NWR Issue 100

Bird, Blood, Snow

by Cynan Jones

Having to deal with such a problematic source text as Peredur, I was rooting for Cynan Jones even before I read his reworking of the tale. Peredur, one of three Arthurian romances in the Mabinogion collection, is essentially a coming of age story. It tells of Peredur’s maturity and victory over otherworldly obstacles – necessitated by the mythical layer of sovereignty – in order that he may claim his rightful kingdom. Peredur is a series of easily conflated episodes in which the large cast of ‘same but different’ characters are either summarily despatched by Peredur or written off by the storyteller. Even the final revelation is more confusing than enlightening. Despite pulling the literary equivalent of a short straw, Bird, Blood, Snow needs no sympathy vote: this is a compelling and challenging new story that engages in a dialogue with the original text by thematising its violence and sense of self-fulfilment, while also adopting a playful stance towards textuality...

Cynan Jones and Lloyd Jones will be in conversation with NWR editor Gwen Davies at Hay Festival, 28 May.

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previous review: Snowdon, The Story of a Mountain
next review: The Village


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