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for The Hawk on the High Air

4/30/2017 c1 Guest
Very welcome to see fanfic from the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. Diolch yn fawr.
The concept is intriguing and well crafted.
The best passages are those that describe the shapeshifted Gwydion and Gilfaethwy as deer, boar and wolves in the wild. These give an evocative sense of lost self, the sensuality of animal in the wild. I liked the trace of memory of Gilfaethwy's name, a neat touch. Note however that the Mabinogi does not make the couple stay always in the same female/ male roles, rather they alternate being each gender. Gwydion does take the male side twice to Gilfaethwy's once.
Also very good is the accurate and apt usage of Gwydion's englynion (traditional intricate Welsh poetry). It is woven in very cleverly. So are the images of Blodeuedd as mythic owl.
The incestuous and homo-erotic themes given here are entirely accurate, strongly implicit in the original text. (See the work of Andrew Welsh, 'Doubling and Incest in the Mabinogi' (1990).
What I liked most of all was the image of LLeu, caught in the cross web of his mother and foster-father (very probably his actual father). Lleu's painful, icy voice: "Which," Llew says, "is why she was mine. I cannot have a woman born of man and woman." His eyes were clear and cold. "Can I?" This is an extremely original interpretation and it is the most powerful insight of the fic.

What I liked less was the lack of perception about the female characters. Arianrhod is far from a simple villainess, cold and hating. That makes her a cartoon, and the whole story less complex and interesting than it is. Arianrhod was very likely in an incestuous relation with her brother Gwydion. He is so dominant, ruthlessly so, n the rest of the tales that it seems highly likely Arianrhod was younger and not fully consenting. She is then exposed to public contempt by the very man who has abused her, and by her uncle, who should have been her protector. Not only is her sexual shame exposed to public view, she is forced by these two men to give birth again in the public view. She can now never marry for no lord of her class would want her. She must live out her life in isolation and shame.
Arianrhod also has the legal right to give her son a name, his arms and weapons, and consent to marry - or she is within her right to withold any of these. Gwydion contests with her, attempting to break her traditional authority. He wins the first two by trickery, but not the third.
Blodeuedd too has interesting complexities, and so does Goewin but to explore them would make this review too long.

Over all, the fic is very welcome to the Mabinogi literatures. Its strengths are in its portrayal of the male characters. Its weakness is a lack of grasp of the female characters who are rendered too simplistically as unpleasant villainesses without motive or detail. It is also strong on the themes of incest and homo-erotic desire, shapeshifting animal identities, the animal experience, all of which can be seen in the original if reading sensitively. Its unique insight is into Lleu's trapped life, and his possible love for Bloddeued.
2/2/2012 c1 2BeccaRayna
I really liked this! It's nice to see some fiction based around the four branches; especially as this is my favourite! I really liked the style and the extra depth you went into with the characters. I have often wondered about what the complications of Gwydion and Gilfaethwy's punishment might have been. The mabinogi is somewhat sketchy on that!

Anyway, thank you! I look forward to reading more of your stories!

Rebecca.
8/16/2010 c1 1b17chofcerberus
I can't believe this... somebody wrote a story based on the Mabinogion. And it's really good.

I think I love you.

:P

But seriously, it was really well-done. The way you wrote it, with its rich description of character, fits the subject of the story well, and the use of present tense makes the storytelling more vivid, more... um... present-y. Yeah. I'm really helpful. Anyway, seriously awesome story. I never expected to find something like this here. :)

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