Sacrifice: Book One of y Ddraig (The Dragons of Brython)
by Gwendolyn Beynon
June 5, 2015
Dark Pages Publishing
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528 A.D. Cymru (Wales)
Melangell is a ‘Lifebringer’, a dragon-maiden learning to protect one of the land’s most ancient mysteries, y Ddraig. She expects to pass her years as have a score of teachers before her—sequestered, safeguarding an egg that barely moves from year to year, never using the deadly and secret skills she has been taught. But the King’s relentless pursuit of this most holy relic throws her into the middle of war and though she is not yet adept Melangell must enter captivity with the egg to defend the sleeping dragonling within.
Her abductor is Cai ap Cynyr—fierce warrior, loyal brother and sword-arm to the high Chieftain, Artwr. He has been scouring the land for the relics Artwr demands to ensure triumph against the Angles invading from the east. Cai uses the Lifebringer’s mystique to master his armsmen, but when he spirits Melangell and the dragon egg further into seclusion, she grows intrigued by her captor. But she is a Lifebringer—sworn only to y Ddraig—and Cai must deliver the dragonling to Artwr to at last drag himself out of his legendary brother’s deep shadow.
And all the while, the egg readies itself to emerge…
*Sacrifice is the first in a series of three books based around y Ddraig (the Dragon) set in sixth-century Arthurian Wales, featuring characters based on Welsh myth, literature and/or history.
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Melangell is a Morwyn Ddraig, a Lifebringer to dragons. Once she accepts a dragon egg, the Creil, her life is dedicated to its protection and education. Unfortunately for Melangell, King Arthur is set on defeating Melagnell’s entire race in order to find a capture a Lifebringer of his own in order to raise the dragon egg for his own benefit. Melangell is captured by the King’s brother Cai and must fulfill her duty to the Creil. While Melangell is detained with her egg she begins to notice her captor, Cai in a different way. However, she is sworn to protect the Creil and there is where her obedience must lie.
When I first saw that Sacrifice was a historical fantasy novel that blended dragons and King Arthur, I knew I had to read it. From the very beginning, I was caught up in Melangell’s story and character. She was obviously strong willed, quick-thinking and daring, Melangell lives up to duty to sacrifice. With such a strong female protagonist, I did not even mind the romance between her and Cai. It all seemed very natural and they both grew from each other’s presence. This story also showed King Arthur in a very different light, while not really a character, his influence is that of a usurper, a conqueror and a man who will use any means to get ahead-even stealing and torturing a dragon. The dragon Creil itself and Melangell’s bond with it was another great aspect of the story for me and I loved the combination of dragon lore with historical fiction. My only complaint is a few slow moving scenes, but these did not detract from the overall plot, message or awesome ending.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Australian author, Gwendolyn Beynon, comes from a long line of storytellers of Welsh and Cornish stock. She grew up reading romance and fantasy novels but the y Ddraig series is her first foray into historical fantasy.
The idea for the y Ddraig series came while on a pilgrimage to Wales (the land of her fathers) where she was visiting holy wells and ancient yew trees. She grew captivated with the way that the ancient stories of Welsh literature, myth and history still co-existed comfortably in contemporary Cymru, and by the atmosphere of mystery that still exists around much of Wales’ natural spaces.
An Arts graduate from Curtin University (with double-majors in Film and Theatre), Gwen has worked in communications all her life. She sold her first book in 2008 and has been writing for a living with her hounds at her feet and Celtic music as a backdrop ever since.
For more information visit www.yDdraig.com.au. Follow Gwendolyn on Facebook and Goodreads.