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The Road to Avalon (Dark Ages of Britain #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,240 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
The pageantry and passionate intrigues of King Arthur’s court are expertly re-created in this historical novel—the only Arthurian novel in which all of the central characters are portrayed asintrinsically good people. This realistic retelling of the legend shows Arthur severing the bonds of bastardy, vanquishing the Saxons, and loving one woman. As the daring teenage warri ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 28th 2007 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1988)
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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MaloryThe Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Best Arthurian Fiction
38th out of 385 books — 1,297 voters
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MaloryThe Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
The Arthurian Legend Retold
36th out of 440 books — 672 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This was a great read -- I could not put it down. It was wonderful to start with the young Arthur and the experiences that made him the man - king -- that he was. The love story between Arthur and Morgan is truly heartbreaking and will bring tears to your eyes. The scene where Arthur comes face to face with the son he didn't know he had is gut wrenching.

I highly recommend this book, as well as the other two that follow in this trilogy, Born of the Sun and The Edge of Light. I wish the author wo
Dana B
Mar 25, 2012 Dana B rated it it was amazing
I'm obsessed with Arthurian legend. I can't find an arthurian legend book without wanting to pick it up. Morgana le fay, Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Nimueh, Lancelot…. any of these character's names shows up and I have to get the book. It's rather unhealthy.

I read this book a long time ago, but just had to read it again. My favorite relationship of the legend is that between Arthur and Morgana, but unfortunately most stories only focus on the hate and loathing, while I see them as the most tragic
Feb 25, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Arthurian devotees
Shelves: favorites, arthurian
An absolutely gorgeous retelling of the Arthurian legends. I was enthralled from start to finish, and could hardly be convinced to put the book down once I'd started.

(view spoiler)
Apr 06, 2008 Katrina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books
I read this book so long ago I can't really recall what year it was. I am guessing somewhere around 1988. It is one of my all time favorites.

This book sucked me in. At the time I really wasn't much of a reader but I got the "itch" to read one day and took the time to hang out in the library long enough to find this one. I literally walked up and down the isles just looking at titles and covers waiting for something to call out to me. When I came across this one I decided it looked interesting e
The Road to Avalon is a beautifully written version of the legendary Arthur and his journey from boyhood to king. It is a tale of love and loss, courage, sacrifice, and secrets .....heartbreaking at times as the young man Arthur struggles with his deep love for a woman he can never have and the weight of his destiny.

"Be the king you were born to be...."

Loved this book -- a true gem from the past.
The first book of a trilogy on the Dark Ages, very well written.
Jul 31, 2015 Nat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, favorites
Any fan of fantasy or of historical drama has read or watched at least two versions of the Arthurian legend. While all take on a slightly different telling, this one by far is the most unique I've read and also the best I've read.

And no, that's not because it support my Arthur/Morgan love.

Focused on a Britain left to its own devices after the Roman Empire pulls out in the early dark ages, Merlin, a former Roman General learns from his daughter, Igraine, that her husband Uther is dying. The frust
Apr 14, 2011 Elise rated it really liked it
“Be the king you were born to be,” she said at last.

Okay so Kayla was the one who recommended this book to me so I knew it would be good. As far as Arthurian Legend goes it feels a bit inaccurate but none-the-less it's still a brilliant adaption and I loved the Arthur/Morgan focus of it.

However! I will admit I found parts of it boring and far too lengthy. So many things had long winded descriptions that really didn't need it whereas other parts that perhaps needed a bit more description were sh
Dec 05, 2009 Thalia rated it it was ok
Shelves: arthurian
Here is a PG13 version of the classic Arthurian legend. Not to say that's bad, but perhaps a little annoying. Everyone is beautiful and so talented and so very one dimensional. It wasn't an unpleasant read but juvenial. I thought perhaps this was aimed at younger readers but it doesn't appear to be. Shame, I think that demographic would actually embrace this simplistic, utopian version. For the more experianced Arthurian reader, however, it will fail to impress. I'm sounding like a snob, I know, ...more
This is not the smutty historical I usually prefer. This is no where near the most historically accurate representation of Arthur. Well written? Hardly. But I have read it it at least 4 times, including last week. That last scene with Arthur and Morgan and the lavender in her hair STILL gets me. Every. Damn. Time.
May 29, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: king-arthur, romance
This is a solid, realistic retelling of the Arthurian story, with a few unique twists. After an abusive childhood, Arthur is rescued by his grandfather, Merlin, and brought back to Avalon. There, he falls in love with Merlin's daughter Morgan and their relationship influences everything else that transpires - his kingship, his marriage, and his death.

From that small synopsis, it's apparent how Joan Wolf has played with the standard Arthurian myth and reconfigured some of the key relationships.
Arthurian Lucre
Jan 02, 2013 Arthurian Lucre rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of novels about arthurian legend but this one is very different from all the others. All the characters seem new characters but not in a bad sense.
Maybe the only bad thing about this novel is that it is not written by one point of view and the feeling I had was that it was a bit confusing while passing throught different narrators even in the same page. Still, the book is amazing. Morgause and Morgana are completely rewritten from the 'tradition' of other arthurian novels I've r
Sep 07, 2009 Barb rated it really liked it
This is the first book I've read about King Arthur. So, I didn't have any strong feelings about how or what should happen. I'm not a student of European History so I have no idea about the history at all.

This is the second novel I've read by Joan Wolf. The first was 'No Dark Place' which I did not enjoy at all. 'The Road to Avalon' however I enjoyed very much.

I enjoyed the story, the characters and their relationships. The story is somewhat simple but very emotional with complicated relationship
Anita O'halloran
Dec 23, 2012 Anita O'halloran rated it liked it
This was a very nice book. It came to me highly recommended, particularly because of the romance between Arthur and Morgan, however I found it hard to feel passionate about any of the characters or plot lines. The majority of characters are nice people. They start out nice and they finish nice; there is very little character progression at all. All of the expected elements of Arthurian legend are there, they just seem to lack substance.

I found the parts while they were children growing up to be
I've never really been a big fan of Arthuriana, the "Matter of Britain." I have always preferred the humble realism and megalomaniacal narcissism of the real kings of medieval Britain and France, like Henry II and his devil's brood.

Joan Wolf brings to life these fantastic characters in a way that feels real. I always hated the way other treatments of this legend emasculated Arthur, supposedly the greatest king ever, and made him a fool for a beautiful flighty inconstant hussy who cheated on him
Jul 17, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
What I really enjoy about this Arthurian retelling are the Roman Britain setting and Arthur's characterization. Because 1) ROMAN BRITAIN!! (idk to me that is a very fascinating time period) and 2) Arthur is such a noble figure in this story. It's different from, say, The Once and Future King where he's the main character in The Sword and the Stone but then becomes a background character in the rest of the books (and still slightly a background figure in The Candle in the Wind but maybe I'm misre ...more
Nov 11, 2010 Gaile rated it it was amazing
I thought this book would be another fantasy/legend about the days of King Arthur which is probably why I passed it up when it was first published. I should not have assumed as this novel is very different from anything else I have read about Arthurian times. He comes across as a believable character in this novel, a magnetic personality, a leader of men, a believer that all of the island must become British in thought, word and deed. Bringing together so many groups at odds with each other thou ...more
I loved this book so much. In fact, I might say it's one of my favorites. This year I've been reading a lot of books having to do with Arthurian Legend. What makes this book stand out to me is how every single character is made out to be sympathetic, good, but with flaws that eventually lead to their downfalls. There is no one purely evil character. Gwenhwfer, Mordred, Morgan, they're all likable. Arthur/Morgan have this beautiful relationship too, one of the best portrayed. Another thing that m ...more
Aug 01, 2014 Lorraine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys reading about King Arthur.
Recommended to Lorraine by: Goodreads Recommendations
I loved this book ! Many thanks to Goodreads for recommending this book to me. The author used a 'different take' on this story than many others and I truly liked all of it. The ending was so very good, but sad. I had to put the book down for awhile and then I reread the ending again. It was beautifully written - not just the ending, but the whole book. Once I picked up the book, it was difficult for me to put down. I taught British Lit. to high school students, and I think that my students woul ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Quite honestly it's been years since I read it and when i stumbled across it again on Amazon I had to get it.

I'm a fan of good Arthurian fiction and this fits the bill. The characters are all sympathetic and well-developed. Joan Wolf avoids the typical trap of making Morgan "bad" and Guinevere "good" (or vice versa).

Those who prefer a more mythic and magical approach to Arthurian legend might be disappointed in this book. Merlin is not a magician and Morgan is no witch. Howev
Dec 20, 2014 Gary rated it really liked it
I cannot resist most Arthurian novels my favourite being The Merlin series by Mary Stewart and the Queen of camelot by Nancy McKenzie
This novel focuses on the relationship between Morgan (here Merlins daughter) and Arthur. Morgan being Arthur's love of his life
But sympathetic portrayal of Gwenhwyfhar too and her relationship with Bedwyr (who is Lancelot )
Great read, good grasp of Britain at the time
The villain of the piece is usually a minor character in Arthurian literature , but it is well br
Mar 14, 2015 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd give this 3.5 stars if I could, but it wasn't good enough for a round up. This was a very nice, fairly original take on the legend of King Arthur. Roles have been changed up and characters have become more accessible. In this go round, no one is fully good or bad, people make mistakes and the consequences of those mistakes are largely handled in a mature way. (Notable exception being Morgan's reaction to her pregnancy.) So this was less dramatic and over the top, but I really did like Arthur ...more
Feb 22, 2009 Odette rated it really liked it
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Colleen Laffin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, historical
Yet another retelling of the Arthurian legend, but this one assumes that the central characters are all basically good. The relationships between Arthur, Qwenhyvar, Lancelot/Bedwyr, Morgan, Merlin, Cai/Kay, and Mordred are all sympathetically described. I'm pretty tired of the Arthurian legend, actually, because it has always seemed so sordid, but this book makes certain. . .talk show elements, shall we say. . .seems less knuckle-dragger. I think it is the assumption that no one was motivated by ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Karly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with Merlin talking to his son Uther, the high king of Britain, about Arther, Uther's son that was raised in secret. They decide that since Uther does not have any other children, Arthur must be taken to Avalon so Merlin can train him, and one day he can be Uther's heir. Merlin goes to the village that Arthur was raised in and finds that he is scrawny and quiet. Nevertheless, Arthur goes to Avalon, meets Cai and Morgan, the other two children, and begins his training along with C ...more
Deborah Lewitt
I am SOOOOO disappointed. First off I have to admit I got 3/4 of the way through and then read the last chapter. I love Arthurian Legends, but this... it didn't feel like an Arthurian Legend, it would make a great sappy romance novel, but NOT a retelling of the Legends. The characters were well crafted, but they were not the characters form the legends: Morgan was too nice-e-nice (she was soo “good” she made my teeth hurt), Arthur was too dark (why? Why would you do this to me?), Kay was OK (but ...more
Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms)
[EDIT July 27, 2015. I read this originally over 3 years ago so this was a re-read. I finished a couple of hours ago, but as with my first read, I cried, and those feelings did not leave just because I put the book down. Losing Arthur was losing someone I seriously cared about, not just a book character. Congratulations to the author for the amazing character development that made me care so much. I see now that I pretty much said in my original review what I was thinking today as I finished. Th ...more
Aug 11, 2013 Tiffannie rated it liked it
I wanted to read this book for the longest time, because I always found storylines related Arthur and Morgana interesting. However, my expectations were too high. I wanted more complexity in Morgan, some magic, and more pages. I felt that some parts, especially towards the end, were rushed. It was just not very good writing on Wolf's part. The way she described time jumps was rushed and, a lot of the parts are anticlimatic where they shouldn't be such as Morgan's pregnancy, Parentage of Mordred, ...more
Aug 15, 2014 Jam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've always been enamored by the Arthur/Morgan (or Arthur/Morgana) dynamics ever since I've watched the first 2 seasons of Merlin back in 2012 and read a few Arthurian legends. And I've been dying to have a copy of this book ever since then. So imagine my joy when I did have the chance to obtain one and gobble the story up, I did.

As far as I know, this is the only book that celebrates the love between King Arthur and Morgan but it's more than that even. Oh, I relished in the romance part because
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Joan Wolf is a USA TODAY bestselling American writer, whose acclaimed Regency romances have earned her national recognition as a master of the genre. Her many historical and contemporary romances, some of which have been chosen as Literary Guild selections, have been highly praised by reviewers and authors alike.

Joan was born in 1951 and she grew up in the Bronx, New York. A former English teacher
More about Joan Wolf...

Other Books in the Series

Dark Ages of Britain (3 books)
  • Born of the Sun (Dark Ages of Britain, #2)
  • The Edge of Light (Dark Ages of Britain, #3)

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“It is not an easy thing," she said, "to love more than one is loved.” 5 likes
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