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Reviewed by J. Aislynn d'Merricksson for Readers' Favorite
Gruffudd ap Llywelyn: Son of Destiny King of All Wales by KR Hebdige is a novel of historical fiction centering on 11th century Wales, and the struggle to unite the country into one kingdom, rather than several smaller ones. In total the tale ranges from the 1020s to 1061, following the life of the eponymous Gruffudd.
I have a special love for Cymru-centric stories. Part of my ancestry lies there. I found this story to be engaging and easy to read for the most part. The main character, Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, was a likeable man and complex, in turn both harsh and merciful. Those were brutal times, and the tale brought a bit of that to life. It was a time far different from now, yet people are the same, through all times and in all places. I particularly loved how Gruffudd handles the bratty kid (adult?) at the beginning. Clearly, to the Welsh, Swein is no man. I agree. He is one rather despicable character.
At one point, the word ‘hiraeth’ pops up. It is a Welsh word meaning (roughly) nostalgia tinged with sadness over lost past. More properly, it would relate to a Welsh person and Wales itself. Though I am distantly linked to this part of my ancestry (too many generations born in America, and contributions from the whole of Britain, as well as some German and Native American), this word fits how the story itself made me feel, as well as how I feel about the country itself. It is the Welsh and Cherokee parts of my lineage that sing in my blood and tug at my soul. I found the word to be rather synchronistic when it showed up. If you love historical fiction, or have an interest in Wales and England of bygone centuries, be sure to check out KR Hebdige’s Gruffudd ap Llywelyn!