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Welsh mythology in popular culture: Wikis

  
  

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Elements of Welsh mythology have appeared many times in popular culture.

Contents

Afanc

Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence features an afanc which inhabits Llyn Barfog. It is driven away by the son of King Arthur.

China Miéville's The Scar features a large afanc (spelled as avanc), bound by chains to tow the city of Armada across the oceans. The afanc in The Scar is of phenomenal size, so vast that to observers one vein on the creature's surface looks like a 20-foot (6.1 m) high ridge.

Stephen Lawhead's Song of Albion series features a brief encounter with an afanc which inhabits a bay of Tir Aflan (the "Foul Land") in the Otherworld. Warriors in two ships are able to kill it with spears, puncturing its hide, and hitting it in the eye and open mouth.

In Juken Sentai Gekiranger, Sojo, a member of the villainous Mythical Beast-Fist group, possesses the power and form of the Afanc.

The Afanc plays a leading role in episode three of Merlin - it's a creature made of earth and water which can be destroyed by fire and wind. It poisons Camelot's water supply, causing a supernatural plague.

Arawn

  • In Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, a series of fantasy novels inspired by Welsh mythology, Arawn is the series' unseen central villain. He was once a mortal man with magical powers, until he became the consort of Achren, the Queen of Annuvin. After learning of her powers he betrayed her, usurping the iron crown of Annuvin and the title of Death-Lord for himself. He would have conquered all of Prydain had the Sons of Don not intervened.
  • Emily Drake's "The Magickers" features the spirits known as Wolfjackals, which have mottled black and silver coats and ride on waves of magickal energy.
  • Arawn is the protagonist of the Leaf game Tears to Tiara. In it, he is first born as the thirteenth of the twelve holy spirits serving the absolute god Vatos, under the name of Lucifer. However, certain events cause him to turn against the twelve spirits and side with the mortals (including the king of elves, Pwyll) in a war against heaven, taking on the name "Arawn" in the process.
  • Arawn is also a character from Beyond The Beyond video game. In the game, he is an omnipotent god who lives atop a tower in the middle of a desert. Halfway through the game, he cures Samson of a powerful and deadly curse.

Blodeuwedd

Cantre'r Gwaelod

Although not as famous as Atlantis, with which it has been compared by some modern authors, Cantre'r Gwaelod has featured in fiction with a Welsh flavour, notably the alternate universe Louie Knight series. In the satirical parody Aberystwyth Mon Amour, a group of Druids plan to launch an ark and reclaim the land of Cantre'r Gwaelod. A schoolboy genius, Dai Brainbocs, assumed it really did exist and was proved right - using microphones to echo locate the town by the sound of the community's bells ringing underwater. Unfortunately to launch the ark Brainbocs needs to destroy the Nant y Moch dam above Aberystwyth, so the flood would destroy much of it. The irony is obvious.

Cantre'r Gwaelod is also a major location in Susan Cooper's Silver On The Tree, the fifth and final book in her series The Dark is Rising. Young Will Stanton, last of the Old Ones (a group of immortal beings associated with the Light that must save mankind from the Dark) and his friend Bran Davies, son of the famous King Arthur, travel through time to Cantre'r Gwaelod, the Lowland Hundred, in search of the last great Thing of Power. With it the Light can finally stand together against the Dark and banish it forever.

Culhwch and Olwen

Tale of Culhwch and Olwen appears on Gems of Celtic Story One, by Robin Williamson.

Culhwch and Olwen also appear as the characters Kilhwch and Ulla [1] in the Final Fantasy XI MMORPG. They are freelances and can be recruited to assist in campaign battles across Vana'diel during the Wings of the Goddess Storyline.

Cŵn Annwn

Diana Wynne Jones' children's novel Dogsbody includes both Cŵn Annwn and hybrids of Cŵn Annwn and Labrador retrievers.

In Michael Scott's The Sorceress: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel the Wild Hunt is a dominant antagonist to Nicholas Flamel and Josh and Sophie Newman.

In Nethack, a character who is reduced to less than 1/10 of his hit points may receive the message, "You hear the howling of the CwnAnnwn..."

Gwydion

Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, a series of fantasy novels inspired by Welsh myths, features a character named Gwydion, based somewhat on the Gwydion of myth, but markedly different in terms of moral character. In the Chronicles of Prydain, Prince Gwydion is a member of the Sons of Don, Prydain's ruling house, and King Math's war leader. It is never stated if he is the son of High King Math, but he takes the throne when the High King dies. Gwydion meets Taran when the Assistant Pig-Keeper chases after Hen Wen. The two travel together until they are separated at Spiral Castle. In the course of the five-novel series, Gywdion defeats the Horned King by shouting his real name, leads the attempt to gain the Black Cauldron and helps Taran, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi and Prince Rhun rescue Princess Eilonwy from Achren. It is Gwydion who leads an assault on Annuvin by the sea shortly after he becomes High King. In the books, Prince Gwydion is an expert tracker, forester and warrior. As a member of the Royal House of Don, he often wears a pendant depicting a simple golden disk meant to represent the sun. (The character is not included in the Disney animated film based on the novels.)

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's Keltiad series - Irish, Welsh and Scottish legends translated to an interstellar, Star Wars style context - has a character named Gwydion Prince of Don as its co-protagonist. Like Alexander, Kennealy-Morrison bases her character on the mythological Gwydion, but humanizes him through her own creative process. Lover and First Lord of War to the Queen of Keltia, Aeron Aoibhell, Gwydion ultimately becomes Aeron's husband and King of Keltia, while having numerous adventures based on episodes from the various branches of the Mabinogion (Spiral Castle, the magic fleet, etc.). He is a gifted bard, sorcerer and warrior, close to (and descended from) the magical Sidhefolk of Keltia, and is portrayed as Aeron's true and loving partner and her equal in most things. He takes a major part in the epic battle that ends "The Throne of Scone", the chronological last of the books published.

He also appears in Phillip Mann's alternate history series A Land Fit for Heroes. Judith Tarr's fantasy series, The Hound and the Falcon and the Alamut series, features Gwydion as the immortal elf king of Rhiyana, a side character in both series. Robert Carter's "The Language of Stones" series, has a short appearance in American Gods by Neil Gaiman and is the ancestor to the main character in Jenny Nimmo's Snow Spider Trilogy. In The Mists of Avalon, Gwydion is the birth name of both King Arthur and Mordred. The name Gwydion also appears in the Sierra game [[King's Quest III]], where a Prince Alexander of Daventry has been kidnapped by an evil wizard named Manannan who renames him Gwydion.

Gwydion is also one of the main protagonists in the books of the Welsh author Jenny Sullivan.

Llŷr

Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain includes a "House of Llŷr", a royal family whose female members are often enchantresses. The Princess Eilonwy, the heroine in the series, is the daughter of Angharad, daughter of Regat of the House of Llŷr. The Chronicles of Prydain are strongly based on Welsh legend, and this inclusion is one of the many similarities between the mythic land of Prydain and Wales.

Olwen

Andrew Lang retold the tale in "The Winning of Olwen" for The Lilac Fairy Book.

This name was also used by Monica Hughes in the young adult novel Keeper of the Isis Light.

Pryderi

Pryderi appears as a powerful king in The High King, the fifth and final novel of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. When introduced, he commands all the armies in the western half of Prydain who are not loyal to Arawn. He uses gold as the main color in his clothing and flags, emblazoned with a red hawk. During wartime he wears his sword without a scabbard, symbolizing his resolve to not sheathe his sword until the conflict is resolved. Retainers also carry live hawks when they accompany him on formal occasions.

Rhiannon

The Rhiannon myth was the inspiration for the song Rhiannon by Stevie Nicks, who read the name in a novel by Mary Leader called Triad during a flight, liked the name, and wrote the song in 10 minutes. She later learned of the Welsh myth and was shocked to learn that her song fit the myth, though it is likely that the novel, Triad, is loosely based on the Welsh Triads, medieval mnemonic lists of people and places in Welsh tradition. "Angel" by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac and "The Birds of Rhiannon" by Faith and the Muse are based on this myth, as well as the song "Rhiannon" from German folk band, Faun.

Leigh Brackett wrote the science-fiction novel, The Sword Of Rhiannon, first published in 1949 as Sea-Kings of Mars, although the story has no direct relation to the myth.

In T.A. Barron's series of novels The Lost Years of Merlin, Rhiannon is the full name of Rhia, a forest girl whom Merlin meets on the island of Fincayra and who turns out to be his lost twin sister.

Rhiannon is also the name given to asteroid 16912.








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