Lost Welsh Kingdom, The
Publication Date October 2015
Publisher: Y Lolfa, Tal-y-bont
Format: Paperback, 195x130 mm, 256 pages
A novel set in the period of the reign of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn (1039-63), a violent, determined man who became the undisputed king of all Wales. The story follows the life of Elen who, against her will, becomes embroiled with that of this most powerful of Welsh kings at his capital in Rhuddlan.
This is John Hughes’s third historical novel, in which he writes with a unique fluency of the lives and exploits of mediaeval Welsh women. In The Lost Welsh Kingdom, we hear about the beautiful and wilful Elen, who, on the day after her wedding to her sweetheart Hywel, is kidnapped by the brutal king of Gwynedd, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. The year was 1041.
Forced into another ‘wedding’ with Gruffydd, for whom she develops a deep loathing, Elen for three years has hopes of her beloved Hywel raising an army and coming to her rescue, but these dreams are not be realised, as Gruffydd returns from one of his battles with Hywel’s head. Elen survives such sorrow and uses a growing list of excuses to avoid accompanying the ever-warring king on his forays. Without him, Elen, now queen, finds life just about tolerable. As time goes by Gruffydd becomes increasingly possessive of his wife, and makes sure that her every move is scrutinised in his absence. But this doesn’t stop the resourceful Elen from falling in love with Rhys, by whom she has a second son whom she successfully passes off as the king’s own.
As the story unfolds, with tales of bloody battles and lives lost, the romance between Rhys and Elen becomes firmly entrenched. Eventually Gruffydd is murdered by the son of one of the many discontented royal houses he has dispossessed, and the couple can live openly together.
The Lost Welsh Kingdom is another epic novel from John Hughes, who, despite his ever-growing and later-life enthusiasm for history, actually studied chemistry at the University of Wales in Cardiff in his youth. It was not until after retiring from teaching that Hughes indulged his passion, which he shares with his readers in the pages of this novel.