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The Mists of Avalon (Avalon #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  157,382 Ratings  ·  5,358 Reviews
A Literary Guild Featured Alternate
Here is the magical legend of King Arthur, vividly retold through the eyes and lives of the women who wielded power from behind the throne. A spellbinding novel, an extraordinary literary achievement, THE MISTS OF AVALON will stay with you for a long time to come....
Paperback, 876 pages
Published April 12th 1984 by Ballantine Books (first published December 21st 1982)
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Tammy I am glad I didn't know this about the author when I read it. I really enjoyed the book and I am grateful I wasn't biased about the author while…moreI am glad I didn't know this about the author when I read it. I really enjoyed the book and I am grateful I wasn't biased about the author while reading an excellent story. (less)
Annie D. I read this book when I was in High School, more than 20 years ago. I read on average 4 books/week and this still my all time favorite. So much so…moreI read this book when I was in High School, more than 20 years ago. I read on average 4 books/week and this still my all time favorite. So much so that when I finished the series, I went right back to the first book and started it all over again. Beautifully written. It has everything Game of Thrones has and then more. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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In 2007 I joined Goodreads and wrote reviews of some of the books that had most transformed me as a reader. I have since, over the years, taken an absurd amount of geek pride that my review of this book is (I think) the most popular one. And for everyone writing "GET OVER YOURSELF" in the comments, as a response to my using my own little corner of the internet to tell a story about how my life as a writer and a Catholic and a woman was shaped by this book, there were a dozen other women respondi ...more
Jul 20, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
OK I admit, when I told my college Arthurian Lit professor that I'd read and enjoyed this book, he proceeded to give me a quick-before-the-next-class-comes-in lecture about how Marion Zimmer Bradley's "interpretation" skewed wildly from the genre.

But I don't care. It's a difficult book (long and utterly depressing,) but it takes the first in-depth look at both women and the pagan Celtic religion of Britain, which Christianity usurped around that time. Evil sorceress Morgan Le Fay is transfered i
Jul 31, 2016 Virag rated it did not like it
Good lord, I haven't ever hated a book as much as this one.

I picked up The Mists of Avalon because I really love Nordic myths, and usually any stories about King Arthur. Everyone seems to adore this book; even my librarian told me that this was a really good Arthurian tale! Well, it's not. It's horrible.

First, let me say how turned off I was by all the bashing and hating there was of Christianity. And I'm saying this as the atheist that I am-- I don't believe in God, yet that doesn't mean I am n
Feb 09, 2008 Matthew rated it did not like it
The Arthur myth from the point of view of Morgaine le Fay, pagan priestess. Supposedly a feminist take on the old legends. There is one main problem with this approach: let's face it, women's lives in the dark ages were pretty boring. And rather than break out of this mold with strong female characters, Bradley talks a lot about spinning, weaving, and having babies. The female characters are either contemptible or irritating, or both. The male characters are cardboard--Arthur is as heroic as a l ...more
"There is no such thing as a true tale. Truth has many faces and the truth is like to the old road to Avalon; it depends on your own will, and your own thoughts, whither the road will take you."

Again, I feel the need to put my thoughts down about some of the books that changed my life and made me into the guy I am.

Those who know me just one tiny bit also know that The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book ever. Go a little bit deeper, and you also know that Frank Herbert's Dune is high up on my
Aug 28, 2015 Genevieve rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, arthuriana
This is one of the few books that I hate. I'm a feminist and I love King Arthur stories and The Mists of Avalon makes me vaguely nauseous. I read the whole thing hoping it would get better, and it didn't, though there are a few good bits. Overall I found it offensive to the Arthurian legends, to history, and to women, and being a 15-year-old girl who liked fantasy novels did nothing to change this opinion.
My favorite fantasy novel written by a serial rapist and child-abuser. Now that I think about it, I'm interested to remember that the person who recommended it to me was also a big fan of Nietzsche.
J.G. Keely
Though I am wont to blame the inescapability of genetics for various aspects of an Epicurean reading of Absurdism, I tend to pause, for some reason, in ascribing gender differences as stringently. It's difficult to say if this is simply a bias of wishful egalitarian thinking or truly an outgrowth of my understanding, for precisely the reasons that Epicureus is worthy to interrupt my many Suicides. So, when I say that women seem more than men to be capable of breaking the Tolkien Curse laid so th ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Jackie rated it it was amazing
An excellent Arthurian saga.
Written from the point of view of Morgaine, Arthur's half-sister and the villian of traditional Arthur tales.
Unique in perspective with strong female characters. It is a story of love; and quite different from any Arthur novel you'll ever read.
Marion Zimmer Bradley's best work. She paints a vivid picture, rich with depth of characters and relationships.
One of my favorites, I can read this over and over again.

Jul 22, 2012 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Well, there I go again - sniffling and crying through the last 10 pages over a bunch of fictional characters that I feel I know better then some real people. If ever there was a book to make me believe in the power of magic, then Bradley cast her spell over me when she penned this book.

What a sap I am, and what a sap I'll be again the next time I read this...


May 24, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers, arthurian scholars, young women, feminists
I read this book when I was in my mid-teens, and in the midst of an Arthurian obsession phase. These are mythical characters that have been written on so many times and by legendary figures who are almost myths themselves. It's a really hard subject to tackle without derision. I do think she filled a niche in what could otherwise be a very chauvinistic, idealized genre.

I haven't read this recently, so I don't know if I would still connect to it as much as I did when I read it all those years ag
Rachael Sherwood
Aug 21, 2011 Rachael Sherwood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
When I was about a fourth of the way through The Mists of Avalon, I glanced at some reviews on GoodReads and was disheartened to see that the consensus of many reviews was that the book ended on a FEMINISMRULESMENDROOLSCHRISTIANITYSUX message. Thus far I had found the book to be more complex than that, but I could see that ending coming, as MZB is not always the subtlest of writers. However, at the end I happily conclude that seeing such a reductionist message from the text is a failing on the r ...more
Meirav Rath
Jan 05, 2008 Meirav Rath rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Young girls with romantic dreams an too many braincells to settle for cheap romance books
Recommended to Meirav by: A friend from university.
Shelves: fiction
Have you ever found yourself reading a book, knowing you're reading crap, but the writing style and the occasional promising plot twist kept you going?

Maybe I was fooled by Hallmark's production, Merlin, and I expected Morgaine to have a backbone to call her own. Zimmer Bradley took whatever hope I had of finding yet another female character to favore and crushed them; Morgaine is obsessed with who everyone marries and who gives birth to who as badly as the simple 'foolish' women she describes c
Magrat Ajostiernos
Jul 04, 2016 Magrat Ajostiernos rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasía, 2016
Me ha gustado muchísimo y ya nunca veré a personajes como Morgana, Ginebra o Lancelot con los mismos ojos...
Me ha fascinado especialmente toda la parte pagana y mágica, tan bien hilada y el ambiente melancólico (incluso a veces deprimente). Es impresionante la manera en la que la autora nos muestra la transformación de la Inglaterra romana/pagana hacia la medieval/cristiana...

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This is kind of a feminist version of the Arthurian legend (I say "kind of" for a reason; Nenia's review offers several reasons why it's arguably quasi-feminism at best). It's well-written but I got bored, and it was long-winded, and I simply didn't care about any of the characters. I didn't find any of them particularly likeable or sympathetic. I skimmed most of the second half.
Jan 10, 2015 Phrynne rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the author's very original take on this famous legend. Having Morgaine as a sympathetic character instead of the usual villain of the piece I thought worked very well. Only four stars from me though because I felt the story faltered many times especially with the constant repetitive bickering between characters about Christianity versus paganism. Obviously this was central to the book but there was just too much. And Gwenhwyfar was just awful. I have never had much sympathy for ...more
Feb 20, 2008 Maurean rated it it was amazing
I have heard for years nothing but glowing recommendations for this book, yet I am still amazed by the intensity with which this story touched me. Marion Zimmer Bradley is an incredible storyteller with impressive knowledge of the ancient Goddess based spirituality. The history and mysticism are clearly well-researched, and the writing is lyrical, palpable, and quite beautiful.

In this “retelling” of the Arthurian legend- which parallels, too, the Celtic mythology of Finn MacCool & the Fenia
Nov 05, 2007 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
This book is one of those that I would consider required reading. Marion Zimmer Bradley's telling of the Arthurian legend from the point of view of Morgaine is so captivating that even twenty years later, I come back to it.

It's the story of Britain after Rome has faded but the influence of Rome, particularly through spreading Christianity hasn't. Britain is on the cusp where the spread of Christianity is eclipsing the native, ancient religion. You'll see all the familiar names from the legend, A
This review can also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog.

I’ve been actively reading and reviewing books for a year and a half now. In that time, my criteria for rating a book on the one to five stars scale has changed a couple of times. A few things still hold true. The book has to be exceptional and leave an indelible impression to get a five star rating from me. Three stars remains my meh-rating. It’s a book that I can objectively call a good one, something I might have even enjoyed re
Moraes the Bookworm
Jun 13, 2016 Moraes the Bookworm rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Reading The Mists of Avalon, I was slightly alienated by the cold, unromantic approach Bradley decided on while retelling the legend, swapping out the mysticism of Merlin, The Lady of The Lake and the evil sorceress Morgause and instead implanting them with the magic of neo-pagan theology. Also at cost of Bradley's approach was the sweeping and winsome tales of Arthur and his knights of the round table, and replaced with instead a more political, Machiavellian take on the women of King Arthur. D ...more
Leah Williams
Sep 29, 2014 Leah Williams rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a feminist work. I saw a few one-star reviews (from dudes AND ladies) of this saying that the women were boring or slutty or whatever coded misogyny nonsense, but let me get something off my chest: do not confuse "having strong female characters" with "female badass fetishization" because this book absolutely has the former.

The women were strong and they were complex and each one of them had this beautifully woven narrative. Feminine =\= unfeminist. Spinning, weaving, childbirth, mother
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tania by: Barbara Kling
Once again I have to hang my head in shame and admit that I knew next to nothing about King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table and Camelot before reading this. The Mists of Avalon was probably not the best book to start with as this presents us with an alternative version of this well-known legend.

I really enjoyed this book as it was a mixture of two of my favorite author’s, Philipa Gregory(all about the intrigues at court) and Juliet Marillier(although the fantasy aspect in MoA is of a more
Jan 20, 2014 Joanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, arthurian
I spent a good deal of time living in this book, and I find I am haunted and saddened that my time with Morgaine is over. Some of the critical reviews point out the novel's flaws (over-long and repetitive) and that is very much a truth......but, oh, what magic it was to get lost in Avalon's world of mysticism and the spirituality of the Great Goddess. An imaginative retelling of the legendary King Arthur and the conflict of paganism and Christianity told from the point of view of the priestess o ...more
Marko Vasić
Jan 06, 2017 Marko Vasić rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
By Merlin’s beard and Odin’s hairy balls, what have I just finished?! Poor is the forest that was cut for this shit to be printed on its leaves. I don’t really know of what genre this book is – nor fantasy, nor epic fantasy, nor historical fiction, for the story is told from very modern point of view. Maybe proper classification is – Indian soap. First four chapters of Book One are great. And I thought that, despite almost 900 pages, this book will be real enjoying to read. But, after chapter fo ...more
Dawn (& Ron)
When Ron and I read this book, it turned out to be one of those rare occasions where our opinions were diversely opposed. Of course, there are always things from our shared reads, where we disagree, but overall our combined consensus is relatively the same. Not with The Mists of Avalon! We could find no common ground.

Originally Ron had picked this out for himself, I wasn't even part of the equation when originally purchased. That is until he started to read the book. The more he read, the more
Jan 01, 2009 Gregory rated it it was ok
What can I say about this book? I understand that this is largely considered to be one of the great classics of modern fantasy literature. But personally, I found it to be a tedious, repetitive, grossly innaccurate affair that has little redeeming value. To be fair, I have to applaud Bradley for the sheer audacity of what she attempts to accomplish with this book: it's not an easy job re-conceiving the vast array of Arthurian legends. Perhaps she merely bit off a lot more than she could chew. Bu ...more
Aug 11, 2008 Letitia rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Patient Feminists and Pagans
It is incredibly difficult to carry a reader's interest through a nearly 900 page novel...and Marion Zimmer Bradly does no better than most.

I was fascinated by the perspective of this novel from the first page. It is essentially a retelling of the Arthur legend from the female perspective, giving all of the characters an entirely new slant. This was much appreciated, but when you have nothing to say, can only carry a book so far. What might have been great plot was far too often distracted by m
Even though this is a veritable tome, weighing in at almost 900 pages (and my Kindle estimated 1200 for some reason...I had balls of steel the day I decided to read this), I was tired of starting fantasy series and getting so behind in my reading. I wanted something self-contained, so I settled on The Mists of Avalon. Joke's on me - this is merely the first chapter in a seven part series. D'oh! I haven't yet decided whether I'll ever look into any of the sequels.

I am completely torn on this book
Mar 01, 2008 Chelsea rated it really liked it
It took me two whole months to get through this 876 page tome. Not that it wasn't two months well spent, but in the scheme of things, even with my slow pace of late, two months is a long time.

MZB's well crafted world of Avalon and Camelot is not a bad place to spend two months; I actually quite enjoyed the book, up until the last hundred pages or so. She creates a rich tapestry of characters and circumstances (one of those books that probably needs a map and family tree in the back, but hasn't.)
Jan 08, 2008 Vera rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in medieval lit/feminism, or who loves the movie Practical Magic
I watched the miniseries version all in one night with my old roommate, and loved it. I also really liked the concept of re-telling (pretty much re-writing) the Arthurian legends from the point of view of the women.

I was fascinated by some things in this book - the way of life and beliefs of the people living "the old way" on the mystical isle of Avalon (pagan, I think?), following the Goddess, contrasted against the new Christian views of the people at Arthur's court. Also, the old well-trodde
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  • Ravens of Avalon (Avalon #6)
  • The Hollow Hills (Arthurian Saga, #2)
  • The Road to Avalon (Dark Ages of Britain, #1)
  • The Knight of the Sacred Lake (Guenevere, #2)
  • The Forever King (Forever King, #1)
  • Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters, #2)
  • Druids
  • The White Mare (Dalriada, #1)
  • Hawk of May  (Down the Long Wind, #1)
  • Lady of the Forest
  • Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, #2)
  • Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit
  • Uther (Camulod Chronicles, #7)
  • The Dragon and the Unicorn (Arthor, #1)
Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley was an American author of fantasy novels such as The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series, often with a feminist outlook.

Bradley's first published novel-length work was Falcons of Narabedla, first published in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds. When she was a child, Bradley stated that she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond Ham
More about Marion Zimmer Bradley...

Other Books in the Series

Avalon (7 books)
  • The Forest House (Avalon, #2)
  • Lady of Avalon (Avalon, #3)
  • Priestess of Avalon (Avalon, #4)
  • Ancestors of Avalon (Avalon, #5)
  • Ravens of Avalon (Avalon #6)
  • Sword of Avalon (Avalon #7)

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“There is no such thing as a true tale. Truth has many faces and the truth is like to the old road to Avalon; it depends on your own will, and your own thoughts, whither the road will take you.” 257 likes
“All gods are one god.” 142 likes
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