Ifor Bach - Eurig Salisbury

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ADOLYGIAD GAN NON MERERID JONES



Nofel gyffrous am ffigwr hanesyddol, Ifor ap Meurig, arglwydd Senghennydd (gŵr byr iawn a dewr iawn, yn ôl yr hanes) yw Ifor Bach gan Eurig Salisbury. Er bod y nofel yn seiliedig ar y briwsion o hanes a geir am y gŵr hwn yng nghronicl Brut y Tywysogion, sef hanes Cymru rhwng 682 ac 1282, a chofnod Gerallt Gymro, ffrwyth dychymyg byw yr awdur yw’r rhan fwyaf o’r stori. Fe’n tywysir ganddo i Gymru gythryblus y 12fed ganrif – cyfnod o frwydro gwyllt a gwaedlyd rhwng y Cymry a’r Normaniaid. Heb ddatgelu gormod, cawn yn y nofel hon hanes Ifor yn adennill mawredd Senghennydd.


I’r sawl sydd, fel fi, yn anobeithiol am gofio enwau, mae’r awdur wedi darparu coeden achau ar ddechrau’r gyfrol sy’n dweud pwy sy’n perthyn i bwy. Yn ogystal, ceir gwybodaeth gyd-destunol hynod ddefnyddiol yng nghefn y gyfrol – gwybodaeth am Ifor Bach a’r cyfnod – sy’n cyfoethogi’r profiad darllen.



Llwydda Eurig Salisbury i ddod â’r cyfnod yn fyw i’r darllenydd â’i bortreadau lliwgar a chrwn o ffigyrau hanesyddol. Er mai Ifor Bach yw arwr amlwg y stori, mae’r awdur yn rhoi llais i Nest, gwraig Ifor, a’i ferch, Gwenllïan, dau gymeriad benywaidd cryf ac arwresau urddasol sy’n herio syniadau’r batriarchaeth am safle cymdeithasol y ferch.


Hawdd iawn yw ymgolli yn nisgrifiadau bywiog yr awdur o olygfeydd megis y wledd yng Ngelli-gaer, sef gwledd arbennig i ddewis pencerdd i lys Senghennydd. Cefais fy hun yn gwirioni ar enwau’r beirdd – Iocyn ap Tegeryn Foethus, Llosgwrn Llew a Pyll Hyll, er enghraifft – a’r disgrifiadau ohonynt yn cystadlu am y fraint o gael eu dyrchafu’n bencerdd. Er mor ddieithr, dirgel a phell mewn hanes yw Cymru’r 12fed ganrif i’r darllenydd, mae disgrifiadau’r awdur o’r beirdd yn canu mawl ac yn dychanu ei gilydd yn rhwym o’n hatgoffa o ddigwyddiadau barddol cyfoes fel Bragdy’r Beirdd.


Disgrifir Ifor Bach fel nofel i blant a phobl ifanc, ond hyderaf y bydd pawb o bob oedran yn ei mwynhau. Drwy stori antur gyffrous, dysgais lawer am berthynas y Cymry a’r Normaniaid, y traddodiad barddol, y gymdeithas a’r drefn wleidyddol yng Nghymru’r 12fed ganrif ac, wrth gwrs, am Ifor Bach ei hun. Er mawr cywilydd imi, doeddwn i ddim yn gyfarwydd â hanes y gŵr hwn cyn darllen y nofel, ac er astudio yng Nghaerdydd am dair blynedd, ni roddais fawr o ystyriaeth i’r Ifor a roddodd ei enw i’r clwb nos adnabyddus ar Stryd Womanby. Y tro nesaf, felly, y clywaf myfyrwyr y ddinas yn galw Clwb Ifor Bach yn ‘Welsh Club’, byddaf yn cael fy nhemtio i adrodd hanes epig Ifor ap Meurig wrthynt!



A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Books Council of Wales.


REVIEW BY NON MERERID JONES



Ifor Bach by Eurig Salisbury is an exciting novel about historical figure, Ifor ap Meurig, Lord of Senghennydd (a very short and very courageous man, according to history). Although the novel is based on fragments of historical evidence found about him in the Chronicles of the Princes (the history of Wales between 682 and 1282) and Gerallt Gymro's records, most of the story is down to the author’s imagination. He guides us through the turbulent Wales of the 12th century – a period of wild and bloody fighting between the Welsh and the Normans. Without revealing too much, we find in this novel how Ifor regained Senghennydd's greatness.


For those who, like me, are hopeless at remembering names, the author has provided a genealogy tree at the beginning of the volume that says who belongs to whom. In addition, there’s some extremely useful contextual information at the back of the volume – information about Ifor Bach and the period – which enriches the reading experience.


Eurig Salisbury succeeds in bringing the period to life for the reader with his colourful portraits of historical figures. Although Ifor Bach is the obvious hero of the story, the author gives a voice to Nest, Ifor's wife, and his daughter, Gwenllïan, two strong female characters and dignified heroines who challenge the patriarchy's ideas about the social position of females.



It’s very easy to immerse yourself in the author's lively descriptions of scenes such as the feast at Gelli-gaer, a special feast to choose a master-bard for the court of Senghennydd. I was thrilled with the names of the poets – Iocyn ap Tegeryn Foethus, Llosgwrn Llew and Pyll Hyll, for example – and the descriptions of them competing for the privilege of being promoted to chief bard. However strange, mysterious and unfamiliar 12th century Wales is to the reader, the author's descriptions of the poets singing each other’s praises and satirizing each other remind us of contemporary literary events such as Bragdy’r Beirdd.


Ifor Bach is described as a novel for children and young people, but I trust that people of all ages will enjoy it. Through an exciting adventure story, I learned a lot about the relationship between the Welsh and the Normans, the poetic tradition, society and political order of the 12th century and, of course, about Ifor Bach himself. To my shame, I wasn’t familiar with this man’s history before reading the novel, and despite studying in Cardiff for three years, I gave little thought to the Ifor who gave his name to the well-known nightclub on Womanby Street. Next time I hear the city's students calling Clwb Ifor Bach the 'Welsh Club', I’ll be very tempted to tell them the epic story of Ifor ap Meurig!

Gwasg/publisher: Gomer

Cyhoeddwyd/released: 2019

Pris: £8.99

ISBN: 9781848519879


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