Sandy Parsons's Reviews > The Mists of Avalon

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
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Aug 04, 2010

really liked it
Read from August 23 to September 12, 2011 — I own a copy

When I was reading the Da Vinci Code, I commented to somebody that the most interesting thing was the idea that religion had gone through a transition from matriarchal to patriarchal, and the person I was talking to specifically mentioned this book. I've wanted to read it ever since. Finally, now I have.

The book is from the point of view of several woman, ostensibly powerful, queens and goddesses and magical beings, yet ironically rendered essentially powerless and subjugated to the will of men. A lot of the story is told through distaff settings, and sometimes this bogs it down. After all, when you think of the women of Camelot, Morgaine, Igraine, and Gwynefar, you don't think of spinning wheels and childcare. But that was the lot of women.

On the subject of women, there is invariably the question of physical beauty, and Bradley addresses this often in the Mists of Avalon. While Gwynefar is described universally as beautiful, her appearance is ultimately a detriment to her. To be fair, one could argue that Lancelet's beauty served him poorly, too, but this is a book about women. Morgaine, on the other hand, small and dark, is often treated with suspicion for her appearance.

Bradley did a really good job of showing the dangerous power of being able to rationalize your actions and desires through your religion. She also gave a credible voice to the myths that changed and became swallowed up by religous dogma during that time.

I also liked the way Bradley interspersed other myths within the main structure, like St Patrick and the snakes, Joseph of Arimathea, which gave a sort of myth within myth architecture, that sort of said, even a mythical person requires myths to explain the world around them.
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Comments (showing 1-3)

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Beth Dawkins yay! you will have to keep me updated on what you think!

message 2: by Nathan (new) - added it

Nathan Jerpe Ooooh I've wanted to read this for many years. There was a copy sitting around in my house when I was growing up, untouched, as far as I could tell, but I didn't really understand what it was.

Lately I've been putting it off because I know it'll loose an avalanche of other Arthurian stuff I want to read.

Sandy Parsons Now you have a reason to pick it up. I'm about half done.

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