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Customer Review

on 6 August 2012
Very little is known about Owain Glyn Dwr, and much of the detail about his revolt is unrecorded. The author in this account is very honest about this lack of material right from the outset; he doesn't waste the reader's time with waffle or speculation, instead he guides us through the facts that can be known and does his best to give a portrait of the Owain and the Welsh revolt (1400 - 1409 approx) by looking at all the available sources. These are mostly English rather than Welsh, and often come from seemingly mundane sources like court records and administrative accounts.

However, you really would need to be interested in history to appreciate this type of book - if you are expecting a lively narrative following the course of the rebellion, or a biography of Glyn Dwr you will be sorely disappointed. Owain Glyn Dwr remains a very shadowy figure throughout and we do not find out much about his involvement in the revolt, much less his personality. It is quite an academic book and I could easily imagine a lot of casual readers finding it dull or heavy.

Given those drawbacks, I was surprised how much I liked this book. Although a lot of questions were left unanswered, I found it left me with a good sense of how life was run in late medieval Wales, and a fair idea of the context, consequences and major events and characters of Glyn Dwr's revolt. In fact the frequent weighing of sources made it feel somewhat like detective work, with the reader as Watson to Davies' Holmes!

P.S. - for an example of how to do this type of study really badly, i would nominate Vlad the Impaler: In Search of the Real Dracula. Pages and pages of 'background', 'dracula in fiction' etc, and the actual information about Vlad could have been gleaned just as easily from Wikipedia!
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