Tree of Leaf and Flame
This collection retells the Four Branches of the Mabinogion stories, adventures of kings, queens and heroes, warriors and witches. The tales, which date in written form from the Middle Ages and are probably much older, span two worlds: the world we humans know – albeit in a remote past – and the parallel faery world of Annwn, where the rules are different.
Daniel Morden is a master storyteller, and it shows. These stories are meant to be told round the fireside and they have the repetition and poetic cadences of the traditional fairy tale: I wish I could tell you that their story ends here….
There are difficult choices to be made; about honour and trust, moral choice and thinking of the greater good. The heroes are fallible – as we all are – and don’t always do the right thing. There are consequences which must be endured and wrongs which must, if possible, be put right. The stories are more than just folk tales; they have a deeper psychological resonance and explore the dark side of being human as well as the praiseworthy. There may be happy endings but they have to be fought for and there’s no knowing how long that happiness will last.
This is a beautifully presented book, and the words are complemented perfectly by Brett Breckon’s evocative illustrations. There’s a helpful guide to the pronunciation of Welsh names at the end. Children of ten plus should love this book.