Nikki 's Reviews > Twilight of Avalon

Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott
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's review
Feb 24, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: arthurian, based-on-myth-saga-etc, historical-fiction-alternatehistory, fantasy
Read from February 21 to 22, 2011

Twilight of Avalon was sent to me when I won a giveaway done by a friend, and I've been meaning to read it for quite a while before that. It's a version of the story of Tristan and Isolde, with a mostly historical background -- based on bits from Geoffrey of Monmouth's history, and the few snippets we may know about the "real" Tristan -- and with a few hints at what may or may not be magic. It's very different to most other Arthurian interpretations I've read, starting with the family tree. Isolde is the daughter of Mordred and Guinevere. Mordred is the son of Morgan, after she was raped by Arthur. Isolde's husband is Constantine, Arthur's successor -- or was, since as the story opens, Constantine has already died.

The story mostly focuses on Isolde's attempts to get away from the traitor in the council, who forces her to marry him. The plot is kind of repetitive, in that sense: she has to escape, gets caught, has to escape, gets caught... Still, it flows along smoothly and is easy to read -- I'd read two hundred pages without stopping, when I first picked it up.

Tristan is not a fully developed character in this book, with only Isolde really clear as a character to me, I think. There are certainly glimpses at others, both bad and good, but Isolde is the only one who is really developed. It's a pretty interesting process, as she has caused herself to forget a part of her life, and therefore in a way she has to learn herself as well.

One warning: rape is a plot device here. If there's a woman, she's probably been raped, going to be raped, or threatened with rape. Which may well have been true enough, historically, but it can grate and/or be upsetting.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Kristen I enjoyed this one, but the family tree took some time to get used to. And I agree, the overuse of rape does get grating. I'll still give the second book a try, though. It's Arthurian, after all. :)

Nikki I'm pretty used to adjusting to the odd twists people put on Arthurian lit by now. *laughs* But yeah, definitely.

message 3: by Gill (new)

Gill "Isolde is the daughter of Mordred and Guinevere. Mordred is the daughter of Morgan"
first gay marriage? ;-)

Nikki Whoops.

message 5: by Gill (new)

Gill ROFL.

Nikki I shouldn't review shortly before bed, clearly!

message 7: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot Hello, Nikki. Succinctly put for all that error! I haven't read this, but will get round to it. Interested in your comments on rape in it. I hope these rapes aren't treated lightly if they are so incessant? Not from the point of view of the characters, but from the point of view of authorial perspective(No pun intended with 'authorial')?
If Arthur rapes his half-sister in this, it is certainly different from 'Sword at Sunset' which I read years ago, and believe you are reading now or have just finished, where I think she seduces him as a sort of revenge?


Nikki I wouldn't say treated lightly -- the narrative keeps one aware that Isolde isn't going to shake the experience off lightly. And I'm not very far into Dark Moon of Avalon, the sequel, but she hasn't forgotten it in that book either.

Yes, it is different from Sword at Sunset. That tends to happen depending on what viewpoint the author takes on Arthur -- if he's a very positive character, then Morgan tricked him; if he is negative, or at least flawed, then he might have been the instigator.

message 9: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot This is a fascinating can of worms! Will have to read these...Are you commenting on 'Sword at Sunset' as when I read it I was touched by the hopeless tenderness between the Arthur character - whose name I have managed to forget - and the Guinivere character - I think, 'Gwenhumara' or some such version, but its so long since I read it, I might see it in a different light now...


Nikki I'm not sure what you mean? I agreed with you about Artos and Guenhumara, I was making a comment more generally. The act that produces Mordred is spun differently depending on how positively we're meant to see the character of Arthur.

message 11: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot Hello, Nikki!
What I meant is I don't know how to use this site as well as I ought, fairly new - do you have a section of separate comments under 'Sword at Sunset'? And yes, incest, a can of worms indeed and incest and rape - horrible...An Arthur who did that would be hard to sympathise with indeed...


Nikki Ah, yes, I did review it. Here.

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