Central to this work has been the conviction that study of the lawbooks must proceed from a sound textual basis: their textual histories need to be unravelled before they can be made to yield legal history. If at times such an approach seems to demonstrate that the texts are of such bewildering complexity that anyone valuing his or her sanity should steer well clear of them, there can be no doubt that textual analysis has resulted in solid gains which have helped to enhance the value of the lawbooks as historical sources. As is only appropriate for a volume in the 'Writers of Wales' series, The Welsh Laws reflects this preoccupation with the laws as texts, concentrating on the structure and inter-relationship of the surviving compilations, on genres of legal writing, and on the vexed question of when lawbooks were first written in Wales. In part synthesis of previous work, in part exposition of new ideas, the book provides a welcome introduction to current thinking, highlighting both recent discoveries and areas of continuing debate. True, it does not try to provide a comprehensive guide to the law expounded in the lawbooks, still less to assess its relationship to legal practice, although it summarizes the main topics covered in the texts and explains individual aspects of the law as necessary. But this is not really a weakness, since reliable introductions to the substance of the law are available elsewhere, whereas much of the material presented here is scattered through specialized studies or has never appeared in print before. Indeed, some of the arguments advanced by the author would merit fuller treatment, with references, in the future: his critique of changing views of the relationship of the main families or redactions of lawbooks to each other, and his hypothesis that the sections in the Cyfnerth and lorwerth Redactions on claiming land by the procedure of dadannudd and on sharing patrimony 'have a distant common origin', are cases in point. Throughout the book, Dr. Charles-Edwards takes pains to set the Welsh laws in the general legal and intellectual context of medieval Europe. A striking example is his suggestion that the damwain, literally 'happening', of the Book of Damweiniau (a collection of hypothetical cases cast in the form 'If it happens that X, then Y') is a disguised borrowing from Norman French, parallel to the English borrowing of 'case' in the sense of 'event' or 'chance happening'. This commendable willingness to look beyond Wales is matched, however, by a sensitivity to political developments within it. In particular, it is convincingly argued that the earliest surviving lawbooks of the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries cannot have existed in a political vacuum (their political preferences are listed on pp. 42-43)-, although this did not mean that the lawyers always saw eye-to-eye with contemporary Welsh rulers who arguably posed a greater threat to some of the cherished tenets of native law and custom than a handful of censorious churchmen such as Archbishop Pecham. This, then, is a stimulating guide to the Welsh lawbooks which complements and, in some important respects, supersedes earlier surveys. Some of the questions it raises, such as the origins and purpose of the lawbooks, are probably unanswerable in any definitive way, but their importance is sufficiently fundamental for it to be