Thursday, 20 December 2012


A review of Jenny Sullivan’s two novels Silver Fox Part 1 & 2.

Let’s first look at the first of these two novels, Silver Fox…The Dragon Wakes which came off the press in 2010, The story is set in Wales during the period of Owain Glyndŵr and the Welsh War of Independence and although the main historical characters in this war, as we know them, have been placed as secondary to the main fictional characters portrayed in the storyline of the novel, the geographical locations and main historical events of the war, as gradually revealed via the narrative of the three principal characters Elffin, Rhiannon and Llywelyn, are as accurate as they can be from historical records available. This illustrates the outcome of intensive and thorough research into the history concerned prior to venturing on the project.

The descriptions of the battle scenes are very detailed and imaginative - especially in regards to the Bryn Glâs Battle; any reader with an ounce of imagination can visualise the frenzied fighting and sprays of blood as a target was hit, and can hear the clashing of weapon upon weapon and the thundering of the horses' hooves as they charged across the battlefield.

Overall, Silver Fox…The Dragon Wakes is a novel that has been constructed and developed skilfully by a very imaginative mind. It has all the elements needed for a good historical story i.e., an unique history and setting, strong characters that have transcended time to guide us through the storyline, love, passion and a sprinkling of subtle sex.

The storyline ends in May 1403 with the burning of both Sycharth and Llys Glyndyfrdwy by the English under the young Prince Hal (Henry V) and with one of the main fictional characters, Llywelyn on his way to join Glyndŵr's army heading south.

The sequel, ‘Silver Fox…The Paths Diverge’ follows the story from May 1403 to April 1407 with the principal Characters Elffin, Llew, Rhiannon, Siobhan, Ceridwen, Jack and Siwan finally  travelling into exile to France on the ship ‘y Groes Sanctaidd’. Siobhan, Siwan and LoÏc were amongst a number of well constructed and interesting characters that had been introduced to this sequel which, again, has been constructed very skilfully as a continuation of what, undoubtedly, is a very interesting story based on the historical account of the Owain Glyndŵr’s War of Independence.

But, at the end of the day, Silver Fox is a fictional story and the author is quick to admit that she has taken some liberties in the telling of the story. For example, apart from the creating of fictional characters, she has portrayed the Lady Marged (Owain Glyndŵr’s wife) as a ruthless conniving woman who, whilst being totally loyal to Prince Owain Glyndŵr, would go to any lengths to ensure that her offspring were married off into the right blood lines. She’s also, in passing, portrayed Iolo Goch as a paedophile which probably won’t go down well with any descendents he may have still in existence but, on the whole, the storyline is credible and evocative and presents the reader with a realistic insight into how both the peasant and 'Uchelwyr' lived, and what they wore and what they ate on a daily basis in the early 15th century.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed both the prequel and the sequel of Silver Fox and found it extremely difficult to put each book down once I had started reading them. This story is an excellent fictional angle on the Owain Glyndŵr history and very raunchy in parts – especially in the prequel. I have spent more than half of my life studying and promoting the history of the Owain Glyndŵr War of Independence and am confident in my mind that Silver Fox part 1 and 2 could be adapted into a very interesting television series that would have worldwide appeal. I hasten to stress here that the reason I say series rather than a film (which everyone craves for) is that the storyline is based on characters associated to Prince Owain rather than on Prince Owain himself. Yes, a film on Prince Owain Glyndŵr and his Great War of Independence is desperately needed but, such a film will need to be a very powerful epic with Glyndŵr as the central figure. Such a film would be produced on the lines of Braveheart but would be even better as the Glyndŵr story is a much stronger one than the William Wallace story in my view.

But, whilst we’re waiting for someone to come up with the perfect script for a great Owain Glyndwr epic film and a major production company or a syndicate of companies that can come up with the finance to produce such a great epic, let’s see if there is a production company out there with enough foresight and funding to produce Silver Fox as an interesting and unique Television series.

Siân Ifan

C.E.O. Embassy Glyndŵr 

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