Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley


Fiction/Fantasy/Arthurian Legend (876 pgs.)


The Arthurian legend is well-known by many, but in The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley approaches it in an entirely new way: from the perspective of the women involved in the story. We hear of Arthur's conception and birth from his mother, the courageous Igraine, and there are several scenes told from Guinevere's point of view, but the most intriguing and dominant character in the book is Morgaine, Igraine's first child, whose destiny lies not with the Christian future of England but on the enchanted isle of Avalon.

This hauntingly beautiful book spins a legend of the closing days of Avalon's rule, as paganism and worship of the Goddess give way to Christianity and its male God. Morgaine's tales of a life lived between the worlds of faerie and humanity, as she watches all the things she loves fade away into the mists, is tragic and moving, and will stay with the reader long after the tale closes.


Drumroll please! I am very pleased to announce that I have finally FINISHED the Mists of Avalon!! Now, onto the review.

I am so devotedly passionate about Arthurian legend. It has become so much a part of me over the past few years. It holds and will always hold a special place in my heart.

My Aunt was kind enough to let me borrow this book from her. I was a bit stunned by its sheer size at first (876 pgs and the smallest print I've seen), but I take a sick delight in long novels... the more the merrier, right? I couldn't wait to dive into this one, being the Arthurian junkie that I am, but boy, I did not know what I was getting myself into.

First of all, this book takes you on a journey. I spent 3 months of my life devoted to the reading of this single book. It is a saga, a legend, a journey through history. When reading this book, you have to be willing to let it take you wherever it will...

Marion Bradley, rest her soul, has written something so epic, so special I can hardly believe it. The pure detail that went into this book is really amazing, let alone the historical accuracy. Almost every single aspect of the Arthurian legends are present here in some way; she included everything (I mean everything!).

The characters... wow. Such a broad, diverse spectrum! From the chaste and beautiful Gwenhwyfar to the deeply devoted and passionate Morgaine, to the evil and scheming Queen Morgause... I think Ms. Bradley could have written individual books on each of these characters! But each one captures your attention and your heart, and really pulls you into the legend. I cared about these characters so much!

Speaking of characters, there is the matter of Lancelot and Guinevere (in my opinion, the greatest love story of all time). Ms. Bradley handled this side of the legends beautifully. Of course, Lance and Gwen didn't get the ending that I think they deserve (when do they ever do?), but Bradley wrote their story so well I found myself in tears at the end.

I had mixed feelings about Morgaine, on whom much of this book is based upon. Her devotion to the Godess and the rule of Avalon was a conflict for me, since this ended up partly bringing on the downfall of Camelot in the end. But I think that the ending truly makes up for that fact, when Morgaine realizes that all religions and people were one, and that "her work was done" (876).

The only downfall to this book was religion. Ms. Bradley shapes most of the story around it, and it can be a bit tedious at times. The themes she presented about religion were really swe-inspiring, but it seemed like at some points it was a constant back and forth about religion. I just wished maybe she could have focused more on the actual legends and the characters that the religious and theologous aspect of it. But it was a small downfall that I tried no to pay to much attention to, and I think the ending COMPLETELY makes up for all of my doubts.

This book is a tremendous addition to the library of Arthurian legend. If you are a fanatic like me, you MUST read this book! I probably didn't even do it justice in my review. Take the journey, read the legend!



Appropriateness Factors:

Just a small warning... this is an adult fiction book, and being so, there are a few sex scenes in this book. Take it for what it's worth.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great review! I haven't read the novel, but I watched the TV series based on it and it was great. I love this new, slightly feministic approach to the Arthurian legends. Thanks for sharing!

Untouchable Treasure said...

Irena: Thank you! I've been meaning to watch the TV series... I just haven't got around to it. :)


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