Although The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed and Book of the Three Dragons were published sixteen years apart and, for the most part, feature different casts of characters, they are closely related. They both use the medieval Welsh prose pieces known as the Mabinogi as their immediate source. The First Branch of the Mabinogi provides the basic plot and characters for the first of these two books; in the second, Kenneth Morris uses characters and plot elements from several branches of the Mabinogi and from other medieval Welsh tales to add depth and texture to a plot essentially of his own creation.
The two novels also are related by their use of medieval materials in contemporary fantasy fiction. As with many fantasy novels, the presence of materials from medieval sources, the most popular of which are the Arthurian materials, not only signals the fantastic nature of the story but also is an integral part of the fantastic cosmology of the story. Morris use of the Welsh Celtic materials as the basis for his fantasies set both the style and the tone adopted by a number of later writers—Evangeline Walton, Lloyd Alexander, Alan Garner, and Nancy Bond, among others—who would make use of those same materials during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
In The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed, Morris first novel, material from the First Branch of the Mabinogi occupies approximately one third of the narrative. That material is almost unchanged from its source. Pwylls journey to the Otherworld, his fight with Hafgan, his two wedding feasts, and the birth, disappearance, and return of his son, Pryderi, essentially are the same in Morris novel as in the Mabinogi. Morris expands on his source, taking fewer than twenty pages from the original and turning them into almost one hundred pages in his novel.
The remaining two-thirds of the book contain episodes and plots of Morris own invention, written according to traditional formulae. For example, the year between the first and second marriage feasts of Pwyll and...
(The entire section is 855 words.)