Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tales from Wales


I was lent this book on the day I moved back into the college dorms. Of course, by lent I mean that my friend came up to my desk, slapped this book down on it, and demanded that I read it.

Close enough, right?

Tales from Wales is a collection of Welsh myths and stories retold by scholar and writer Rhiannon Ifans. This little book contains 15 short tales, along with a number of pen and ink illustrations by Welsh artist Helen Holmes. Judging from the size of the font and the shape of the book, I’d say that this is most likely a book for children, but since when has that stopped me?

I love old stories. Always have. I was raised on Arthurian myths and pursued stories from a number of ancient cultures during middle school and high school. Adding some old Welsh stories to the mix was great.

If you are unfamiliar with Welsh myths, or any myths from that area, Tales from Wales is probably the best way to start. The writing and storytelling in this little book are simple and direct. While there is still that odd focus on details that don’t actually have any significance that myths from the British Isles tend to have, there is less than in the tales written for adults. The stories are easy to understand and interesting to read.

Personally, I enjoyed reading the stories. As I said, I’ve always loved old stories and I haven’t read or heard as many Celtic myths as I would like. I’ve noticed that stories from a specific area tend to have similar themes and characters, so having an easy to understand basis for Celtic myths is nice. Having that basis makes encourages the reader to learn more and makes it easier to understand the more complicated stories.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone at all interested in myths from the British Isles, especially if those interested are children. The stories are written in a way that is easy to understand, and kids would love these often silly tales.

I don’t actually know where anyone outside of the UK would be able to get this book (I believe Lindsay bought it in Wales at some point), but if you do find a copy, I recommend picking it up.

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