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Storyteller by G. R. Grove
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11039109,733 (4.17)5 / 59
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I could have sworn I'd already reviewed this.

Anyway, as others have said it's a series of interlinked stories set in post-Roman pre-Arthurian Britain. It deftly weaves mythology and history together, using it's protagonist's journey towards a career as a bard to structure the novel. Strongly recommend it! ( )
1 vote MinaKelly | Jul 18, 2014 |
Enjoyable enough fiction about a summer a wandering youth spent learning how to be a bard. Well thought out story and has a lot of excellent historic references that were fun. I found it a little boring and was annoyed with the way each chapter ended. All in all this was not a bad way to spend an afternoon in the sun. ( )
  Scoshie | Feb 13, 2013 |
I have been reading this on and off for some time now, after having received a copy through LibraryThing -- mostly because I tend to forget about books on the Kindle. But I have finally finished it -- and really enjoyed it.
It's the story of a 6th century Welsh storyteller, who hopes to become a bard; this is about one summer's travelling around what is now known as Wales. He has a less-than-perfect travelling partner, which causes all kinds of problems for both of them, but by then end of the book he has been apprenticed to a bard and is on the way to following in the footsteps of Taliesen, the legendary bard.
The story abounds with characters from British mythology and is a very enjoyable read; I was disappointed to find myself at the end of the book. But not with the story! ( )
3 vote Tropical-Library | Feb 8, 2012 |
I must admit that until I read this book I had never given much thought to what happened in Britain after the death of Arthur. I've always loved tales of Arthur and his knights and I found this book (the first of a series, I believe) to complement that love quite well. It's told from the point of view of young storyteller and would-be bard, Gwernin and recounts his early adventures. Each chapter is its own tale and each was the perfect length for bedtime reading, a time when I usually read short stories. Grove has really brought this dark time into sharp focus and has made me much more curious about Welsh myths. For some odd reason I simply could not get through the first chapter, but not wanting to give up on the book I simply skipped it and went on to the second chapter and I'm glad I did. Recommended.
1 vote yolana | Oct 3, 2011 |
ER Review.
Really enjoyed this story, after I realized it was not a stand alone book, but part of a series. I like how the author relayed the learning of the craft of the bard- the years of visual and verbal memorization, travel, apprenticeship. The author captures the difficulty of the road, and the good and bad people met. The author does an excellent job of portraying the traditional culture of Wales, the beauty and severity of it's lands.
It is amazing to realize, in relation to current society, to have a young boy travel virtually alone, getting passed off to others to further his education. At times Gwernin seemed far older than he actually is.
Current thought has the King Arthur legends centered on Wales. I liked the author's incorporation of the legends into the time frame of the story. I think the other books of the series will bring more of the legends into the main story.
Overall, and enjoyable read. The only problem I had was the darn Welsh pronunciation! Which I always have. The author kindly put a guide in the back of the book. Use it. A lot! ( )
1 vote hsudonym | Aug 24, 2011 |
I was lucky enough to receive the trilogy of books called Storyteller, Flight of the Hawk and Ash Spear. If you enjoy Jack White novels you will enjoy this trilogy. Set back in the mythical times of dragons and warriors and the main character who is a storyteller. We follow him as he learns from his master Talhaearn and competes in front of royalty against others to become a master. He starts out in Storyteller telling the story about King Arthur’s Raid on Hell.
In the second novel, Flight of the Hawk, the young storyteller moves on to more adventures as he does in the Ash Spear. I was going to provide more information but quite frankly I don’t want to give anything away. I really enjoyed all three novels. They flowed from one to the other nicely and the best part, or I should say one of the best because there were many, is that at the end of the novel is a pronunciation guide for all of the rather difficult Welsh words as well as a wonderful postscript by the author that I almost wished was at the beginning of the novels as the pronunciation pages should have been as well. Some people may be put off by all the weird names and such but I promise if you stick with it the trilogy is well worth it. ( )
  Ani36ol | Jan 27, 2011 |
An engaging 'road' story of an apprentice story-teller in post-Roman Wales. The narrator must learn humility before being apprenticed to a master story-teller. Rich in historical detail. ( )
  twitham | Jan 23, 2011 |
Wales, the 6th century, not so long after King Arthur’s reign (if you believe that King Arthur was Welsh, but that’s another story…).
Gwernin is a storyteller, a young one as the hero of his adventures, an older one as the narrator. And he tells his stories as one of those storytellers that we could imagine, more than one thousand years ago or just a few decades ago, telling a story, while the household members are gathered around he fireplace on a dark, cold and wet winter evening.
Each chapter of the book is like one of those evenings, when Gwernin, now a seasoned storyteller, recalls an episode of his debut as a young want-to-be storyteller. The recalling goes in chronological order, but is in the form of vignettes, the storyteller only concentrating on the eventful moments that are worth telling a story… At the end of the evening (sorry, I meant the chapter…), Gwernin closes the story with the same sentences, ”But that, O my children, is a story for another day”, as a gate between the time (and reality) of the story and the time (and reality) of going to bed and wondering about next evening telling. This ritual in storytelling is an integral part of telling as practised by many traditional storytellers. It has helped me in getting into the story and listen to it rather than reading it…
And it is probably important to listen, as the author has done a great work in trying to use Welsh grammatical structures despite writing in English. This gives its very own melody to the book. Similarly, the use of Welsh words, just the right quantity to give a local colour to the story while not hampering the understanding, is nice, and I was always pleased to recognise some of those words!
A book to read for its gentle and quaint melody, and to remember of a time that we recollect through our imagination, filling in the gaps of a highly mythical and un-self-documented era that is still such an important part of our collective memory.
1 vote raton-liseur | Dec 27, 2010 |
I am a fan of historical fiction, especially anything Arthurian or early Britain. When I saw this series I knew it would be something I'd be interested in. I won an ebook copy of the second book in this series as part of the member giveaway and so read that book first. I enjoyed following Gwernin and desired to know how the series had started. I requested Storyteller from the author and she graciously provided an ecopy in exchange for a review.

Storyteller opens with an introduction by Gwernin once he is an old man. He sets some context then the story jumps back to him as a young man. The story starts off with Gwernin as a young man traveling with a friend from home, telling what few tales he knows and winning a few gifts from lords. By the time the book ends he has met Taliesin, served a short time as an apprentice, received his first harp, and is preparing to set out on a trip north with a new friend, and fellow bard in training. I enjoyed seeing Gwernin grow and mature throughout the book.

I enjoyed the short story style to each chapter. It made it easy to pace myself and made for easy places to stop. I recently received both Ash Spear and Pryderi's Pigs and Other Poems and I look forward to reading both of them soon. I'm definitely hooked on this series. ( )
1 vote kkunker | Dec 17, 2010 |
While starting Storyteller I must admit it took me a couple tries to get into this novel. (I don't normally like historical fiction) When I got into it though, I found I couldn't put the Storyteller down. G.R. Grove paints an excellent picture of the life of a bard named Gwernin Kyuaryd, while he wanders Wales in the year 550 AD,
Each chapter weaves a new story of Gwernin bringing him closer to reality as it goes. I particularly enjoyed the first story when he describes the encounter he had with an owl whom our bard compares to a ghost.
Though I am not a historian, this story has brought me into an understanding of what life must have been like for bards of the sixth century Europe. I recommend Storyteller to both fans of historical fiction and those who tend to stray away from that genre alike and allow the storyteller to weave his magic together for you. I look forward to reading the next installment, Flight of the Hawk, in this series.
“But that, O my children, is a story for another day.” ( )
3 vote hghost | Nov 10, 2010 |
This is a very good and interesting collection of Welsh myth and history. The first 30 or 40 pages I thought drag a bit and sometimes it is almost boring in the beginning, but as the story unfolds it gets more and more interesting! ( )
  Releanna | Oct 30, 2010 |
I thought that this book was great. The title of the story totally matched up with the story itself. The title was definitely true to the book in so many ways. such short stories packed in all together. It was a debut novel. ( )
1 vote KarthiCaravel | Oct 24, 2010 |
Storyteller is a series of interlinked short story/chapters set in 6th century Britain, each of which forms but a small part of the larger tale. This novel is the first of a trilogy featuring young Gwernin, a fine story teller with dreams of becoming a bard. Some of the chapters are the tales Gwernin tells, others describe what happens to him on his travels as he learns and improves his craft. Storyteller is historical fiction, yet it also has elements of magic and adventure which appeal to fantasy readers.

Since each shorter tale interlocks with those that come before and after, they create a complex, inter-woven story within the story format which keeps the reader turning pages. It's not a "light and fluffy" read, but Storyteller is well worth the time spent reading. Thanks to the appendices at the back of the book, understanding the Welsh words incorporated into the story was not a difficult task, even one who happens to be ungifted in languages.

Watching Storyteller slowly unfold as the chapters fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle is a pleasurable experience that's not to be missed.

Recommended to readers of historical fiction and also to those who like a bit of fantasy in their reading. This review is based on the pdf document given to me free by the author, and has been simultaneously posted on Dragon views, LibraryThing and Amazon.com ( )
4 vote 1dragones | Jul 27, 2010 |
The book begins with a series of tales told by the central character the bard Gwernin, as an older man retelling the tales and his telling of them as a young storyteller. Several of these tales were original published as instalments in serial form.
First of all, I should admit that I failed to finish the book the first two times I read it. I found the initial standalone tales didn’t carry my interest on into the novel. This is not a fault of the writing or the storytelling, and may well be more of a personal idiosyncrasy than anything else – I like books to draw me into the tale and found the initial tales did not do this. I’m familiar with much of the source material and many works based on it, and enjoyed each skilful retelling of the tales. As the book became a more continuous telling of Gwernin’s tale (and both his and his master’s storytelling) it became compulsive reading.
The author presents a richly crafted tale in an authentic setting, weaving touches of magic and myth in a natural and accurate historical context. Set shortly after the death of Arthur, it would be easy to dismiss as yet another Authurian fantasy – Arthur is the principal character in many of the stories told within the book. To dismiss it in such a way would be a great disservice to this book and to its author. The short Authurian tales are an important component of the story but merely form one thread of the tale, the bard Taliesin is a recurring character, here the focus is more on the influence he has on the young storytellers life. Overall the effect is a richly woven tapestry of entwined tales, historical fiction at its best. (Historical rather than fantasy fiction, because the elements which could have turned this into fantasy fiction are presented as a historically accurate natural part of 6th century life.)
I have and will recommend this book to others. I intend ordering the rest of the trilogy today and am already eagerly anticipating book 4 of the greater arc. ( )
3 vote nuatha | Jul 4, 2010 |
I’d hoped that G.R. Grove’s Storyteller would provide a strong sense of 6th Century Wales, both the land and the culture of those living there, and perhaps an historically accurate depiction of the bardic tradition. If it also delved into the esoteric tradition as practiced by those in Britain, whether Druids or others … well, that would be cream. Storyteller delivers handsomely on the first two counts, and holds out some promise that later volumes may have more in store on the third.

The setup is simple: a young man leaves home with a friend, eager to explore the world. Because he has little experience, and no formal training, Gwernin is not a bard. On his travels, though, he gains some invaluable experience, and eventually takes up as apprentice with a bard in hopes of learning the formal aspects of the tradition. Each chapter is a vignette, more or less directly related to this overarching narrative arc. The plots are what I would call miniature or minor key, not overly dramatic in terms of action or tension, though there is a memorable exception involving a midnight rescue by water. These minor key stories are reflective and suggest a wisdom of observing people and life trends, which for me fits what I expect a bard to commit to verse. The plot and characterization does pick up complexity in the latter half of the book, presumably in part due to the fact these stories were written with an eye toward a novel, and the earlier were published separately as short stories.

Because the stories are narrated by Gwernin, the author and the character so to speak “share a voice”. Apparently in the bardic tradition, storytelling is done in a high style quite distinct from everyday speech.* And in fact, Gwernin’s narrative voice is distinct from the style of his delivery when, interacting with other characters, he tells them a story. Gwernin’s storytelling voice is at once more formal and less emotional than when he addresses the reader. His narrative voice, by contrast, is more confessional, and while clearly not modern in its speech pattern, is conversational. (I find it clever that the trope most commented on in reviews, “But that, O my children, is a story for another day” is delivered by Gwernin the narrator, not the storyteller. This decision effectively does two things: reminds us that the narrator is, in fact, an older Gwernin, narrating his life not as it unfolds but sometime later; and, suggests these stories are shared only after some reflection, and not as play-by-play retellings of what just occurred.) I suspect Gwernin’s storytelling voice should be yet more stylized, and that as an apprentice bard this is precisely one of the things he hopes to master. It will be interesting to see if his formal storytelling does in fact become more distinctly stylized in later books.

Another strong impression is the way the seasons and weather dictated so much of everyday life. This isn't unique to those in Britain at the time, of course, but is quite different from the way I live, and it added to the sense of being transported to another place & time. Grove's writing of spring in Wales is one example, lyrical and highly evocative, one of my favourite passages in the book. Overall, in fact, I was very impressed with the quality of the writing, which provides a distinct feel while avoiding cliche. Thankfully, Grove never resorts to schoolyard bastardisations of chivalric poetry, but has found a narrative voice that is recognisably other and yet scans easily.

I’d love to own a handsome hardbound edition, as I expect to re-read it and the sequels. The cover art is fitting, but it would benefit from a polished layout and some additional copyediting. And, yes, a sturdy binding.

* Coincidentally, at the time I read Storyteller, I was reading Kathleen Raine’s Defending Ancient Springs. The essays on the poet Vernon Watkins and on the nature of the symbol in metaphysical poetry include some comment on the Welsh bardic tradition. Raine remarks specifically on the formal and stylized voice of a bard, which prompted my comparison between Gwernin as narrator and as storyteller. ( )
7 vote elenchus | Jun 16, 2010 |
Storyteller by G.R. Grove follows the young Welsh storyteller Gwernin, initially as he travels around post-Roman Wales, first telling stories and later as an apprentice bard. The novel is set up as a series of reminisces by a much-older Gwernin, though after the initial introduction this framing is limited to the formulaic "But that, O my children, is a story for another day" conclusion to each tale. The story is well-written with meticulous attention to historical detail. The writing especially shone during the several stories told by Gwernin during the course of the novel, which were perhaps the strongest part; the episodic nature of the book was a strength, rather than a weakness, here. The entire book was an enjoyable and quick read, with a very strong sense of place; Grove clearly loves, and has thoroughly researched, the era she's writing about. The sense of change and loss, both of Roman civilization and of the still older Celtic customs, in the face of the Saxon invaders pervades the book, giving it a flavor familiar to readers of more historically-oriented Arthurian fantasies.

Storyteller deftly straddles the boundaries between historical fiction and fantasy; Gwernin has several supernatural experiences (though he does not see them as anything extraordinary); many of these, though not all, can be interpreted in context as dreams if the reader chooses. However they are interpreted, the effect of these events on the rest of the story is minimal, perhaps partly due to the episodic nature of the entire book, and the ill-defined "feel" of the book is not that of fantasy. Readers of either genre, provided they aren't completely averse to reading something slightly out of genre, would most likely feel at home with the book.

The weakest aspects of the book were plot and characterization; in the first half of the novel, the individual stories are almost entirely disconnected from one another. As a result, there's very little sense of tension; the reader knows that whatever problems are set up will be resolved in a matter of a few pages. The reader has very little insight into either of the continuing characters introduced in the first half of the book (Gwernin and his friend Iuean; when they part ways midway through the book, there's no sense of regret or loss, because the reader never really got to know Iuean as more than a name.) Once Gwernin is apprenticed to the bard Talhaearn halfway through the book, the story hangs together better and Gwernin begins to show signs of a more individualistic character than simply "young and impetuous".

Finally, a note on an issue that, while unrelated to the story, did initially affect my reading experience by jolting me out of the story and forcing me to notice the arrangement of letters on the page. The typesetting on my lulu.com paperback was quite poor. I don't ordinarily notice things like this, but it was jarring -- one line was inexplicably in smaller type, the letters didn't seem to fit together well, and parts of some letters were thin to the point of illegibility. I got used to this after getting into the book a bit, and hopefully most readers will do the same; it would be a shame to miss out on this book because of the printer's incompetence.

I received a copy of this book from the author through the Hobnob With Authors group in exchange for a review; a savvy move on Grove's part, because I will certainly purchase the sequel. ( )
7 vote lorax | May 19, 2010 |
Odd collection of incidents - being the (fictional) memoirs of the early life of a travelling bard in 6th centuray Wales.

We follow Gwernin as he sets off on a summer's grand tour, as a Storyteller - rather than the official title of Bard which he hasn't yet earned. Each short chapter is a tale, told in a Storyteller's prose, either Gwernin telling one of his tales or an incident during his stay at that location. Unfortunately they all end with - "but that's a story for another day my children" which rapidly becomes annoying. It works well enough as a storytelling device for Gwernin's recitals of ancient tales, but when it comes to the 'plot' of Gwernin's own adventures it completely breaks up the narrative flow. Although initially very slow there is some form of plot - Gwernin falls in love, competes with the local strong man for the girl, and finds a Master to offer him formal training. There are also a series of mystical encounters with various ghosts. These seem to indicate some great secret in Gwernin's background or future, but that my children is a story for another day - you see how irritating that gets!

I'm not a historian, but the work seems well researched, and an author's note in the back explains which details have been invented, plus helping with Welsh pronunciation and names. I found it odd that Powys remains unchanged in name since the 6th century, but perhaps that's the case. The life of the characters seems somewhat idyllic, without major concerns about providing sufficient shelter, food or avoiding disease. There is a complete lack of concern over banditry which also seems unrealistic. The only other major discrepancy that jarred me, was when the strict master bans Gwernin from 'looking at another girl again' and then completely ignores Gwernin's ongoing romance, and later implies he's aware of it, and tacitly approves of it.

Overall it was well written and I enjoyed it more as the story progressed. Especially when we learnt a bit more about Gwernin and his life, but the annoying chapter endings and lack of overall cohesion mean I'm unlikely to search out any sequels.

This ebook version isn't well copyedited with several instances of runonwords. ( )
3 vote reading_fox | May 17, 2010 |
G. R Grove is a storyteller herself. This first in a trilogy gives us a real feel of post-Arthurian Britain, taking what little is known of this period she has managed to create an atmospheric world.

Looking back Gwernin Kyuarwyd tells us about a year in his life, Sixteen years old and travelling around 6th century Wales with his friend Ieaun he tells his stories at various festivals; lord's halls and shepherd's huts. Dreaming of being a bard, and having many misadventures along the way, Gwernin is a very realistic young man and the feel of the country and times is strong.

As I finished my immediate thought was that "I want to know more" and, to me, that is a sign that this is a series well worth following. ( )
8 vote calm | May 16, 2010 |
In Storyteller we hear about young Gwernin's start as a story teller and how he moved into apprenticing as a bard. He tells his tales with a bif of a flare, fitting for a storyteller, and he is a very likeable character. The descriptions of some characters seem repetative, but on the whole this book was an excellent read. I did think that beyond Gwernin, and maybe two or three other characters, everyone else was very flat. I found myself forgetting who characters were because they had little or no development. His tag line, "But that, O my children, is a story for another day" appears at the end of every chapter, and gets to be a bit annoying by the end of the book, because he's hinted at all these other great adventures that the reader is told nothing about. However, I will definitely be reading the other books in the trilogy and I can't wait to hear about the rest of his adventures! ( )
1 vote MillieHennessy | May 13, 2010 |
Wow! What a marvellous read! I love reading books about the Aurthurean period and this one is no exception.

This book tells the story of the early years of Gwernin who is apprenticing to be a storyteller/bard Each chapter details an event in his life and how it shaped his future.
The mode of storytelling used in the book, is the older Gwernin recounting his tales of youth to the reader. This means that there are a lot of adventures hinted at in the future, enough to whet your appetite to keep on reading. There is some mystical elements to the story, encounters with fae, premonitions and hints of magic, but the story is realistic enough to believe that this all may have occured.

I think the perfect environment for reading this book is in front of a fire, surrounded by dark, wrapped in warm blankets. It's the impression you get from each chapter that you are on a campout with a really great storyteller recounting fantastical stories from their youth. Beacuse each chapter is almost stand alone you tend to dread the words "But that, O my children, is a story for another day". Which means that chapter/story is over. Most chapters pick up not long after, but you are left hanging a bit with dangling tidbits of things to come. Frustrating, but in a good way that makes you want to keep reading.

My only complaint (and it is by no means a reflection on the author) are the names used in this era. I can never keep them straight, and seem to find myself wracking my brain trying to remember which character is which. Most of the time the story provides enough detail which I am definitely thankful for to keep everyone straight.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely recommend it. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. ( )
3 vote mjwensel | May 10, 2010 |
Loved this book! It was a bit slow getting into it at first, as the language is a little bit more - formal, for lack of a better word - than a lot of things I read. But it fits Gwernin and the time in which he lives, and once I was hooked, I was HOOKED. The book follows Gwernin as he travels and as he becomes apprenticed to the bard Talhaearn. He's a young man with a lot of growing and learning to do, and I've enjoyed seeing where he's gone thus far (although I do feel like he may learn some hard lessons on down the road). The "O my children" device at the end of each chapter was a little distracting at first, but it grew on me the more I read. I can't speak much to its historical accuracy, but I didn't see any glaring anachronisms. I'm eagerly anticipating the next book in the trilogy!
3 vote bunkie68 | May 7, 2010 |
This is book one in a fascinating trilogy detailing the life of a bard-in-training, Gwernin Storyteller, in Wales during the 6th century. It is well written and leads the reader to believe well researched, although the author does describe how sparse the historical information for this time period and subject is.
In book one, we follow Gwernin as he strikes out on his own for the first time, traveling with a trader from his village. Young Gwernin has much to learn about the world, politics, and how trustworthy his companion is and his adventures are saturated with the supernatural beings, as both guides and warnings.
What I found most unique about this book is how each chapter can stand independent as a tale while at the same time belonging in the collection of chapters to tell the story of Gwernin's early years. I am fortunate to have won the two sequels in this series, Flight of the Hawk, and The Ash Spear and I am looking forward to reading more about this endearing character and remarkable period in history. ( )
3 vote nanajlove | Mar 15, 2010 |
I spent quite a long time with this book and am glad I did. It is a long journey that young Gwernin takes. This was not one of those historical novels where the characters are completely modern individuals placed in a historical setting. Nor was it one where the characters were given particularly divergent hot button political and social issues. Rather, they are simply authentic – which extends to age as well. You see Gwernin’s growth as his journey continues. There is a nice balance of surreal/fantastical elements mixed into the tale. I am looking forward to getting to the next installment.

Note: I received this through LibraryThing Member Giveaways. ( )
3 vote janemarieprice | Feb 10, 2010 |
I won this book from the Member Giveaways. It was very different than I expected. The way each story also helped tell the main character's tale was quite an interesting spin. Though a dark book, it was very light and fun to read. I would recommend it to someone looking for a different avenue of reading from thier normal book choices. ( )
  Chaser22 | Jan 15, 2010 |
This book was a bit slow to start and hard for me to get into at first, but as I continued reading I found myself getting more and more caught up in Gwernin's story. I enjoyed how Gwernin grew and developed through the story. His failings and triumphs were not only entertaining, but rang true to those of any young man growing into himself and his trade.
I didn't notice any glaring spelling errors but after reading one of the earlier reviews I was really watching for errors . Not that I can cite the page but, I was mildly amused when Gwernin's pony was once referred to as Lloyd, as opposed to Llwyd. Same meaning, so it wasn't a big deal. If this can be called an error, it was all I found.
Initially, I found the device of "O my children that is another story" a bit intrusive, but as I got further into the story I got used to it. Perhaps, it is the way bards ended their stories but I think the use of it at the end of every chapter was unnecessary, especially when the chapters were largely connected chronologically. I think this device would have been more successful (and meaningful) if it had been used a bit more sparingly at key points in the story.
Overall, this book was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the next book. ( )
  Chirtie | Dec 31, 2009 |
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