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on 26 February 2010
This is a new English translation of that classic collection of Welsh myths and legends known (erroneously) as The Mabinogion, consisting of eleven stories featuring King Arthur and his knights, magic, shape-shifting, giants, talking animals, wily gods and powerful goddesses. These tales are probably most familiar to English readers through the first English translation made by Lady Charlotte Guest in the 1840s, reprinted many times since and available for free download from several websites. The Guest version benefits from a high Victorian, King James Bible style of writing, replete with thees and thous. Personally, I'm a sucker for all that. Unfortunately, as a good Victorian gentlewoman, Lady Charlotte edited out what she regarded as the naughty bits of the stories. For this reason alone, this new translation is to be welcomed. Being made by a much better-informed scholar of the Welsh language, this edition is also much more accurate than its predecessor. Not only that but the translator, Sioned Davies, has a strong interest in the oral storytelling tradition in which the tales were originally formulated and has, therefore, produced a text eminently suited to being read or spoken aloud for an audience. The language is clear and the tales come across as fresh and entertaining, capable of being read for enjoyment rather than purely for historical interest. Hooray for that, as they are very fine stories, representing one of the oldest storytelling traditions in Europe. Hopefully this excellent translation will bring them before a wider audience.
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on 10 October 2007
This edition of The Mabinogion is truly an excellent translation; not only that, but there is helpful introductory material for anyone studying the text, or those who wish to learn more about the mythology and stories behind it. The Four Branches of the Mabinogi and the other stories are themselves fast paced and a very rewarding read, I cannot recommend this book heartily enough. The hardcover edition is also very pleasing to the eye, a well-conceived publication through and through.
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on 15 June 2007
Where can I begin? The newest translation of the Mabinogion, those famous medieval Welsh stories is more than expected. Sioned Davies, chair of Welsh at Cardiff University certainly is within her element in bringing these stories into English. Her prose is poetic and crisp, and a delight to read. Her endnotes are informative and the pronunciation guide one of the clearest I've ever come into contact with. And that's just the translation itself! The stories are, of course, classics of literature the equal of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, or even (in my not-so humble opinion) Shakespeare. If you choose to purchase a translation of the Mabinogion, you can't do much better than the sublimity of Sioned Davies'.
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on 30 August 2012
This is an excellent, highly readable translation. However, the Kindle edition is very poor; the formatting looks like the book was simply scanned and there are no links for the notes. Surely OUP can do better than this?
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on 18 October 2015
This Oxford Classics translation of the Mabinogion, by Sioned Davies, is lively and clear. For a non-Welsh speaker like me, grappling with the names is slightly daunting. However, there are only few places where the text gets bogged down in them completely. Moreover, this version comes with a very useful guide to Welsh pronunciation.

The tales themselves are a little brusque, like One Hundred Years of Solitude. Don't expect much in the way of character development or tension. In places they are pleasingly weird: old Celtic gods appear in the guise of kings, black sheep turn white and vice versa, and the population of Dyfed disappears mysteriously, so the Prince runs off to become a shoe maker.

Seven of the eleven tales are examples of early Arthurian myth. Mostly, these feature Arthurian knights doing what Arthurian knights do, roaming the countryside looking for fights, like rutting stags. These tales are interesting for the light they shed on the development of the Arthurian myth. In Peredur son of Efrog, Peredur (Percival), encounters the Fisher King and a prototype Grail, which has nothing to do with the blood of Christ. And in the last tale, Rhonabwy's Dream, we are shown a darker, seedier vision of Arthur and his times, as a lost age of pomp and violence.
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on 27 March 2014
A superb work of translation and writing. Enough background information to satisfy the most curious and all done in a flowing, easy to read style. This version is intended to reflect the original way of passing on the tales, when it was a spoken work relayed by story-tellers.. A lovely version of these traditional Welsh tales and legends, Highly recommended for both students of history and casual readers alike.
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on 4 October 2009
The translation of the Welsh is easy to read and the age old stories are brought to life. I would recommed this book to both Pagan and none Pagans who are interested in the old tales. There is no need to read the sories one after the other like a novel. Each one can be read and thought over. The lengthy introduction is a must as it gives a greater depth to the stories. Far better than I imagined.
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on 4 March 2014
The Mabinogion is a rare collection of stories from Welsh medieval literature. It shows us our roots as a culture through its curious and intriguing symbolism, as well as its simplicity. It is so easy to read but its full meaning will take an age to absorb.

Anyone looking to deepen into true culture should read it.
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on 20 January 2015
Have enjoyed reading this book so much I'm using it as my prime text for my disseration. Can't believe more people haven't read it, and even more shocked at how few people have heard of it! Superb book and amazing stories within. Sioned Davies translation is perfect, and her introduction and footnotes are really useful too. The chapter on Welsh pronounciation is especially beneficial! Really glad that's included. Definitely buy, especially if you're a fairy tale love!! It's fantastic. Could not rate high enough.
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on 18 February 2014
The Mabinogion is a collection of medieval stories that has entertained Welsh children and adults alike for generations. Clearly the inspiration of modern day Harry Potter stories. This new edition by Sioned Davies deserves to be on the shelf of every family who like telling stories. And it’s all in English -translated from the original Welsh by Lady Charlotte Guest in the 19th century. So if you like magic, Arthurian and Celtic legends, then read about the many stories (eleven in all) as well as characters such as Gilla Stag-Leg, or Judith Hawke-Eye. They tell of love and betrayal, shape-shifting and enchantment. Their roots lie in the old oral tradition of storytelling.
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