I’ve written quite a bit about ‘Footholder’ recently. Much of it has focussed on Goewin, my heroine.
There is, though, a second viewpoint character who I’ve grown equally fond of – Gilfaethwy, one of King Math’s nephews, and brother to Gwydion and Arianrhod.
Like Goewin, Gilfaethwy is a minor character in Welsh legend, and we don’t know much about him. He is, though, key to the ‘Footholder’ story. Like Gowein, again, this drew me to him and made him an obvious character to use.
So, what do we know about Gilfaethwy?
He only appears in The Mabinogion to advance the story of his higher profile brother Gwydion, so scholars tell us. It is Gilfaethwy who falls hopelessly in love with Goewin and so allows Gwydion so set in motion a chain of events that…well, you’ll have to either read The Mabinogion, or wait for my book!
We know Gwydion is a warrior; to differentiate between the brothers I made Gilfaethwy a skilled administrator, and a sensitive thinker rather than a soldier. While Gilfethwy is probably the nearest the Celts would have come to a pacifist, I’ll stress he’s not a coward. He is willing to fight when he has to, but sees it as a last resort, rather than a first – which leads to conflict with his brother.
These days, ‘my’ Gilfaethwy would probably have a successful career in the civil service. Or, he’d become a James Bond to his brother’s Rambo!