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Sacrifice: Book 1 of y Ddraig (Volume 1) Paperback – June 5, 2015
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About the Author
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 where she was visiting holy wells and ancient yew trees. The land of her fathers. 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.
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Because I am a lover of Arthurian lore, it is usually hard for me to resist a book that features King Arthur. With a saint’s legend and a dragon mixed in, it makes an interesting story. This story has a different take to King Arthur. He does not make an appearance in this novel, but he is referenced. While he is portrayed in a negative light, King Arthur is still a fascinating character. I also liked how Cai, Arthur’s adopted brother, is the hero in the story and is the love interest of the protagonist.
Melangell is feisty, spirited, defiant and strong-willed. Because of her headstrong personality, she is an equal match to Cai, who is both astounded and fascinated by her. She is willing to sacrifice herself to keep those she loves safe. She is also intelligent, cunning, and not afraid to fight her enemies to protect herself. Therefore, Melangell is a strong protagonist, and I liked her romance with Cai. Melangell and Cai’s relationship progresses naturally. Eventually, Melangell steers Cai away from his dreams of ambition and glory, and he slowly turns into a man who wants to do what is right.
Overall, this story is about sacrifice, friendship, love, and duty. The message of the novel is to do what you believe is right. I did find the plot to be slow-paced. I also felt that the story should have been a bit shorter because there were some unnecessary scenes that did not help the story or the characters. However, I felt that the thrilling climax and ending definitely paid off. The story has some violent scenes, and is for mature readers. I am interested in reading the sequel to find out what happens next. I recommend this story to those who are interested in dragon lore, fantasy, historical fiction, and Arthurian literature.
(Note: This book was given to me as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.)
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. The language got me at some points, with the Welsh spellings, I got some of them, and didn't get others. 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.
I also found one of the opening scenes a bit off-putting due to its graphic nature but this wasn't an issue for the remainder of the book.
So despite my initial reservations (non-preferred genre, unfamiliar language, graphic opening scene) I persisted reading and to be honest I'm really glad that I did. While there were a couple of slower moving sections in the remainder of the book, by the end I was well and truly hooked! There is a great cliff-hanger at the end which makes you immediately want to get onto the reading the next book ("Ascension", which I have since read and enjoyed it even more than the first!).
So overall this is worth a read, even if it may not be your usual type of book. There is definitely reward for effort as you get to the final chapters!