Review: Melltith yn y Mynydd continues a great fantasy series
Ifan Morgan Jones
Perhaps I’m not the best person to review this book. Reviews of Welsh language fantasy books will often start with a disclaimer that fantasy books aren’t usually their kind of thing.
For me it’s the opposite problem – this book is very much my thing, and that should be kept in mind when I recommend it!
Melltith y Mynydd is the second in Elidir Jones and Huw Aaron’s Chwedlau’r Copa Coch series after Yr Horwth. That book won the Children and Young Person’s category at the 2020 Welsh language Book of the Year award.
This book had a lot to live up to, therefore, and I think surpasses the original both in the quality of the descriptive writing and the more cohesive plot which mostly takes place on and inside the titular Copa Coch itself.
My only major gripe with the book might be one I have with fantasy books in general – including some of my own – which is that it’s sometimes so much fun to invent characters, locations and concepts that it’s hard for the reader to take them all in at once.
Added to this is a Neil Gaiman-esque tendency to tell stories within stories within stories which is very clever but also at times left me a little confused as to the POV from which the scene was being told.
(It’s mostly told from the third person by a narrator telling the story to another character, but that narrator is also a character that occasionally appears in the story they are telling and will sometimes intervene in a scene from the first person, which is a little bit head-scratching when it happens unexpectedly.)
However these minor quibbles aside this is an excellent fantasy series that is in the Welsh language but doesn’t feel overly constrained by our more familiar Welsh mythology.
Complementing the text are Huw Aaron’s brilliant drawings. I was a little bit critical of the inclusion of images in my review of the original book, writing that “part of the fun of reading them is often to imagine a world that is as otherworldly or gritty as you want it to be.”
This second volume largely side-steps that issue with a tendency to illustrate floor maps and drawings, and the occasional character, rather than locations as was the case in the first book.
Huw Aaron’s pictures are also excellent, drawing perhaps on his experience with Where’s Wally?-esque Ble Mae Boc? series in the sheer amount of detail and in-jokes on display in many of them.
If you want an enjoyable fantasy series in the Welsh language, y Copa Coch is the place for you and if Elidir Jones and Huw Aaron can keep this quality up, this could be a series that will delight Welsh children (and adults) for generations to come.