Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Llywelyn, Morgan

(1937-    ) Irish writer, born in New York. Although she has written historical novels, starting with The Wind from Hastings (1978 US), romantic fiction, and a contemporary novel as by Shannon Lewis, most of her work falls into the category of Celtic Fantasy. The earlier books tend to be straight historical fiction, with the supernatural (usually drawn from Celtic Legends) evident only as part of the commonplace, as in Lion of Ireland (1979 US), which is the story of Brian Boru (941-1014), High-King of Ireland, and its sequel, Pride of Lions (1996 US). ML has retold the story for the YA market in Brian Boru: Emperor of the Irish (1990). In the context of ML's work the birthdate of Brian Boru should be considered as 941 rather than the frequently accepted ?926; this latter contradicts the Chronicles of Ireland and implausibly has him killing a man in single combat at the age of 87. It was with The Horse Goddess (1982 US) that ML moved firmly into the mythic, bringing Celtic mythology alive. This novel takes place at the dawn of Celtic history, using as characters the mythic Heroes and Heroines of the Celts. The novel helps explain the origins of the druids and the Celtic mastery of horses. ML's work is building into a history, though not chronological, of the Celtic people. The first part of The Elementals (coll of linked stories 1993) considers the Flood and the settlement of Ireland; Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish (1984) retells the life of the semi-legendary Amergin, who comes from Iberia to settle in Ireland and discovers that the earlier settlers have Talents, giving rise to the legend of the Fairies; The Isles of the Blest (1989) is the story of Connla, who follows the fairy Blaithine to Faerie, seen as a paradise; Finn MacCool (1994) retells the story of Finn Mac Cool as straight fiction; Red Branch (1989; vt On Raven's Wing 1990 UK) concerns Cuchulain and his relationship with the Mórrígan; Druids (1991) brings us back into the historical past and explores the conflict between Julius Caesar and the Celts in Gaul.

Most of ML's work develops an undercurrent of the supernatural which powers and drives events without necessarily becoming overt. She balances the excesses of the fantastic with the rigour of history. [MA]

other works: Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas (1986); a historical novel; Xerxes (1988), historical biography; Silverhand: The Arcana (1995) with Michael Scott, first in a series where a student mage must find a series of magical objects in order to defeat evil twin rulers.

Morgan Llywelyn


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.