The Mab

By Matt Brown and Eloise Williams

Eleven epic stories from the Mabinogion, retold by Welsh writers and beautifully illustrated

Children's | Fiction
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The Mab is a collection of eleven epic Welsh stories from the Mabinogion, beautifully illustrated and retold for young people. These stories are really, really, really old. Really. In fact, there are some clever people who think that they might be the oldest, ever, written-down stories in the history of Britain, ever (you know, the sort of people who wear brown jumpers and stroke their chins and say things like “I think you’ll find that…”, or “I simply don’t agree…”, or “HELP! HELP! I’ve lost my trousers”).

But as well as being really, really old, the stories in the Mab are strange and funny and thrilling. They speak of a time when the gates between the Real World and the Otherworld were occasionally left open. And sometimes, just sometimes, it was possible to step through. Trust me, you’re going to love them.

And to retell these strange and funny and thrilling stories we have assembled a team of incredible and extraordinary and award-winning authors and writers. They include, Eloise Williams (Children’s Laureate Wales and author ofWilde), Sophie Anderson (The Girl Who Speaks Bear), Catherine Johnson (Freedom), PG Bell (The Train to Impossible Places), Alex Wharton (Rising Star Wales winner 2020), Claire Fayers (Storm Hound), Hanan Issa (My Body Can House Two Hearts), Zillah Bethall (The Shark Caller), Darren Chetty (The Good Immigrant), Nicola Davies (The Day the War Came), and Matt Brown (Compton Valance). Each story will be told in English and in Welsh and will be vividly illustrated by the brilliant Max Low.

“The Mabinogi are our earliest stories; they live and breathe in every one of us. Passed down through generations, they are the ultimate classics of our country. This is why, now more than ever, we need to pass them on to children. I cannot wait to read the collection of tales compiled by this spectacular smorgasbord of Welsh writers in the classroom in years to come. Edrych ymlaen!” Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher.

“Every child should have the opportunity to fall in love with these unique tales and to be part of the tradition of wondrous storytelling which have lived on these lands for over a thousand years. Please support this brilliant initiative and get these stories into the imagination of a new generation!” Lleucu Siencyn. Chief Executive Officer, Literature Wales.

“This is such an exciting project! The Mabinogion is part of our cultural heritage and to have these amazing current authors, representative of the very best in children’s writing from Wales is a real coup. It promises to be an essential and important volume for a new generation.” Simon Fisher, Family Bookworms.

  • High quality hardback edition
  • Demy format
  • 12 original, full-colour illustrations by Max Low
  • Approximately 272 pages, and 44,000 words
  • Tons of amazing and exclusive pledge levels!

*Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

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The First Mab

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  • Matt Brown avatar

    Matt Brown

    Eloise Williams avatar

    Eloise Williams

    Matt Brown is an author and a broadcaster who has presented on some of the UKs most popular TV shows like Nickelodeon, The Big Breakfast and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! Although, he would readily admit that he has presented some of the UKs worst-ever shows too! He has also been on the radio a lot, hosting shows on Capital, Heart and Magic and making documentaries for the BBC.


    Matt is passionate about stories and storytelling. He has written seven books. Four Compton Valance books (the Most Powerful Boy in the Universe, the Time Travelling Sandwich Bites Back, Super F.A.R.T.s Vs the Master of Time, the Revenge of the Fancy-Pants Time Pirate) and three Dreary Inkling School books (Aliens Invaded My Talent Show, Mutant Zombies Cursed My School Trip, Killer Vending Machines Wrecked My Lunch).


    THREE AMAZING MATT BROWN FACTS


    1. Matt was once bitten by a dolphin.


    2. Matt has recently dyed his hair grey for fashion purposes.


    3. Matt does NOT look good in hats.




    Eloise Williams is the inaugural Children’s Laureate Wales 2019-2021, an initiative run by Literature Wales.


    Having originally trained in Theatre at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, she went on to work as a performer, theatre maker and creative practitioner for over a decade before studying for a Masters in Creative and Media Writing at Swansea University in 2011. She has since published four books for young people; Elen’s Island, Gaslight, Seaglass and Wilde. In 2019, Seaglass was shortlisted for the prestigious Tir Na N’og awards.

  • The Prince and the King (and the other King)

    Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, gripped the reins of his mare and charged into the forest. He was never happier than when riding and hunting, with the sun on his back and the wind in his face. He laughed and roared as he rode, urging his horse on and on, faster and faster, deeper and deeper into the forest. And the deeper he rode, the thicker the trees became. Before long their twisted and tangled limbs blocked out the sunlight and the air filled with a heavy damp mist. Pwyll could no longer see his hounds in front of him and had to follow by listening to their howling song of the chase.

    Pwyll kicked on again, crashing through a thicket of trees and out into a beautiful clearing bathed in warm sunlight. After the darkness of the forest, Pwyll was momentarily blinded and pulled on the reins, stopping his horse. His hounds were standing motionless on the edge of the clearing, as silent as stone.

    “What is this? What’s going on?” bellowed Pwyll, angry that his fun had stopped.

    But then he saw what his dogs were staring at, and he fell silent too. There, on the other side of the clearing, lying dead among the bluebells, was a beautiful golden stag. And crowding around the fallen beast was a pack of hounds unlike any that Pwyll had ever seen before. Their ears were bright red and their coats so white, so dazzling and bright, that they seemed to shine like stars.

    “I wonder who owns these hounds?” he muttered to himself and looked around for the owner of the extraordinary animals.

    After a time, and finding no one nearby, Pwyll chased away the white hounds and let his own dogs feast on the stag. But, no sooner had they begun when a hooded rider crashed through the trees into the clearing.

    “What do you think you’re doing?” boomed the rider, his voice as deep as thunder.

    Pwyll was startled, he was not used to being spoken to like this. He was much more used to people saying things like, “wow, you’re so great, my lord” or “have you done something with your hair, my lord, because it looks amazing” or “HA HA HA, that’s the funniest thing anyone has ever said, my lord”.

    “What of it? I have done nothing wrong.”

    The hooded rider jumped down off his horse.

    “Done nothing wrong? Of course you’ve done something wrong. You’ve done everything wrong. You have driven away my hounds that felled this magnificent stag and let your own pack feast on it.”

    “I looked for the owner of the hounds but you were nowhere to be seen,” said Pwyll. “I admit that perhaps I should have waited but it is not so great a crime, is it?”

    “Not so great a crime?” shrieked the rider. “Sir, you have stolen from me. Where are you from?”

    “Dyfed,” said Pwyll.

    “Well, sir,” said the rider. “Stealing things may be what happens in Dyfed but you are not in Dyfed anymore. Around here we take a pretty dim view of stealing.”

    “I am sorry if I have caused offense, sir,” said Pwyll, although he thought that the strange rider was making way too much of the whole incident. “Please tell me your name so I may make it up to you?”

    The rider walked closer and threw back his hood. Pwyll could see lightning flash inside his jade eyes.

    “I am Arawn, King of Annwn.”

    Pwyll suddenly felt cold.

    “Annwn,” he gasped. “The Otherworld?”

    Arawn nodded.

    “My Lord,” said Pwyll, who was now a little afraid because he had heard many stories of the dead wandering around the Otherworld. “Tell me, is there something I can do to win your friendship?”

    Arawn stared at the Prince and thought.

    “Well,” he said, eventually. “There is one thing.”

    “Yes, my lord?” said Pwyll. “Tell me.”

    “Well,” began Arawn. “My neighbour is always fighting me. His name is Hafgan, he is the other King of Annwn and if you could rid me of him then you would truly be a friend.”

    Pwyll drew his sword.

    “Then lead me to him, right now, and I shall end your troubles.”

    “I wish it were so simple,” sighed Arawn. “But there are rules that we must follow. Hafgan and I have arranged to meet a year from tonight, by the river. You will be at that meeting. You will fight in my place.”

    Pwyll thrust his sword back in its sheath.

    “I will do it.”

    A smile flickered across Arawn’s face.

    “But only a king can fight a king. It is the way of things. So you and I must swap appearances. I shall take your body and you shall take mine.”

    “How do we do that?” said Pwyll, who had never heard of anyone swapping bodies before. Well, not in Dyfed, anyway. It was the sort of thing that probably happened in Camarthen.

    “We shall do it with magic,” said Arawn, his eyes flashing. “It will be quite painless. We will change lives with each other and you will fight Hafgan. And just to make sure that the disguise is perfect, you will live for a year at my castle. If my friends and family don’t realise the swap then we’ll know that Hafgan won’t either. He’s not very bright at all.”

    “Then let it be done,” said Pwyll.

    Arawn looked at the prince.

    “Before you fight Hafgan, there is one thing about him that you must know,” he said. “He is a fearsome warrior but to kill him you must only strike him once.”

    “Only once?” said Pwyll. “Why?”

    The king waved his hand in front of this face.

    “It’s an Otherworld kind of thing,” he said. “You know rules and regulations and whatnot. If you hit him with two blows then he will recover. So you need to make sure your first attack counts.”

    He held out his hand.

    “Agreed?”

    Pwyll took his hand and shook it.

    “Agreed,” he said.

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