Igam Ogam by Ifan Morgan Jones
Pan gaiff Tomos Ap alwad ffôn gan ei dad mabwysiedig yn ei alw adref, mae’n amau mai cynllwyn yw’r cyfan i’w orfodi i gymryd gofal o’r fferm deuluol. Ond gyda Natur ei hun yn ceisio prynu’r lle, mae ganddo fwy na dipio defaid i boeni amdano.
*This is a Welsh language book which, sadly, I don’t believe has been translated into English.
Before I read this book, I’d never heard of a Welsh fantasy book. Ever. The idea seemed insane yet very tempting to me. So, obviously, I felt I should give the book a go and I’m so glad I did. It was a brilliant read, with plenty of references to Welsh culture. The fantasy elements were also great and I really wish everyone could get to read this book.
I love the cover. It’s exactly what the book is about. It’s a simple illustration of Tomos Ap’s farmhouse (where a bit of the story does take place) and it also shows the fireplace and the tempting world that lies beyond. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go through that fireplace into a world pretty much based on Welsh myths and legends, with a bit of Welsh history added in? I totally would.
This book is the story of Tomos Ap discovering his heritage, along with a whole new fantasy world. It’s a classic fantasy book, where the main character gets thrown into a world of magic and dragons and medieval-ness and druids. Yes, druids. Although it is a little slow at the start, the plot picks up as the fantasy elements get introduced. There’s even a rather sad scene in the first part of the book, which is very impressive for a Welsh book.
Once the cast of characters managed to enter the fantasy land – named Y Fabinogwlad – the plot picked up considerably. The world building was lovely, and some of the ideas that the author came up with were brilliant. I really enjoyed all the references in the book to Welsh culture like mining and the Eisteddfod. There were plenty of twists in the plot as it progressed, some of them very surprising, and I thought it was quite an original storyline.
The were a variety of characters in this book, and they were all good fun to read about. I thought that Tomos Ap’s character was very interesting, especially the mystery of his parentage. He was very reluctant to enter into this crazy fantasy world to start with, but his character grew as events unfolded and he had very good character development. At the start of the book I wasn’t sure if I liked his character, but by the end of the book I loved him.
Of course, in a side novel, there are plenty of side characters, and Igam Ogam didn’t disappoint. There was Angharad, who I wasn’t a fan of throughout the book although I did understand her motives behind her actions. She had a nice storyline in the background who tied in nicely with the story of Blodeuwedd. There was also Tomos’ best friend, Dafydd, who was my favourite character by far. His character grew up a lot through out the course of the book, and I grew to love him more and more. There were several other side characters who also came into their own during the course of the book, mainly the inhabitants of the fantasy world.
The Little Things
All the references were brilliant in this book. The way the Eisteddfod was brought into the book was great and I loved the “A oes rhyfel? Rhyfel!” part. There was also a lovely parody of “Pwy sy’n dwad dros y bryn?” about a dragon, and there were other parts in the book that made me laugh. Another thing that I loved was ‘tr-hud-an’, which was electricity created by magic. I liked the way that idea was spread through out the book and also the way the wizard burnt magic books to create it.
The one thing I did dislike was that the main villain wasn’t clear. Through out a lot of the book I was trying to decide if Nature was the main villain, or if it was Arthur. It wasn’t really sorted out, but I still enjoyed the rest of the book.
Generally, it was a brilliant addition to the fantasy world and I really wish there was an English translation available so that the rest of the world could enjoy it.