The winter of 1158 was harsh in every sense. With the snow thickening, the osprey is searching for food, and the future of Gelligaer courthouse is dangerously fragile. Will Ifor defend his castle, his people and his family from the enemy? And who exactly is the enemy? A novel about betrayal, intimidation and family bonding, which reminds us that the truth is often found in the most unexpected of places.
For those who, like me, are desperate to remember names, the author has provided a genealogy tree at the beginning of the volume that says who belongs to whom. There is also some very useful contextual information at the back of the volume - information about Ifor Bach and the period - which enriches the reading experience.
Eurig Salisbury brings the period to life for the reader with his colorful and rounded portraits of historical figures. Although Ifor Bach is the obvious hero of the story, the author gives voice to Nest, Ifor's wife, and his daughter, Gwenllïan, two strong female characters and noble heroines who challenge patriarchy's ideas about the girl's social position .
It is easy to become absorbed in the author's lively descriptions of scenes such as the feast at Gelligaer, a special feast to choose from the courtyard of Senghennydd. I found myself fascinated by the names of the poets - Iocyn ap Tegeryn Lucky, Lion Burn and Ugly Pool, for example - and the descriptions of them competing for the privilege of being promoted to a poet. Though strange, mysterious and distant in history, 12th century Wales is for the reader, the author's descriptions of the poets singing praise and satirizing each other are a reminder of contemporary poetic events such as Brewery ' r Poets.
Described Ifor Bach as a novel for children and young people, but I hope everyone of all ages will enjoy it. Through an exciting adventure story, I learned a lot about the relationship of the Welsh and the Normans, the poetic tradition, society and political order in 12th century Wales and, of course, Ifor Bach himself. To my dismay, I was not familiar with this man's history before reading the novel, and despite studying in Cardiff for three years, I gave little thought to the Ifor who gave his name to the well-known nightclub in Street Womanby. Next time, therefore, I hear city students calling Clwb Ifor Bach 'Welsh Club', I'll be tempted to tell them the epic story of Ifor ap Meurig!
Non Mererid Jones
Illustrated By: Eurig Salisbury
Release Date: August 2019