the guardian Tue 11 October 2011
Another myth from the Mabinogion, Clare's epic tale of conflict, faith and banishment is seen through the eyes of inveterate outsider Clip, the right-hand man of "Ludo the Warlord". England is besieged by the Invaders, and though at the outset Ludo's aims (and those of his brother Levello) are limited to dominion in Wales, he soon reveals himself as a born leader, intent on freeing the British Isles from a pernicious, and all-seeing, regime. In Clare's hands "Lludd and Lefellys" becomes a savagely contemporary story of surveillance, suicide bombers, and bitter conflict. Thanks to Levello's marriage to Uzma (Pakistani nobility), "a spot of Holy War" is thrown into the mix, and, together with friction between "Believers" and "Traditionalists", and a brush with the rampant capitalism of "the banker-bandit king", Clare incorporates some singularly modern-day themes. Though too ambitious in scope to fit comfortably within a novella, this reworked tale provides a graphic depiction of the cruelty of war and torture.