Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Avalon ” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,829 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
Story is set in England during the last quarter of the 10th century, when Saxons and Danes warred and Viking raids ravaged its outposts. Proceeding to King Edgar's court, Romieux de Provence, noble born with the blood of King Alfred and Charlemagne in his veins, is shipwrecked on the Cornish coast, where he meets Merewyn, who believes she is descended from King Arthur. It ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published November 1st 1988 by Trafalgar Square (first published January 1st 1965)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Avalon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Avalon

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful historical saga of the tenth century. Rumon, descendaant of Charlemagne and King Arthur journeys from his native Provence to England, which is being torn apart by rifts between Christian and pagan, and violent invasions and raids by Vikings and Danes.
He meets the beautiful and valiant Merewyn, in Cornwall, but is bewitched by the evil Queen Alfreda, who after Edgar's death has Edgar's older son Edward assassinated, and replaced by Alfreda's own son Ethelred.
Merewyn is later captured
Sarah Mac was okay, but not recommended unless you're a hardcore Seton fan.

-spoilers ahead-

The story begins with Merewyn & Rumon's time at the court of Edgar & his son Edward (roughly 970-80 AD). The secret of Merewyn's non-royal birth is a deathbed vow that Rumon carries only by accident; he's a petulant, sanctimonious whinger who thinks entirely too much of his worth to God's creation. Merewyn was more likable, though something of a dim bulb, so she doesn't have much personality besides
Krista Baetiong Tungol
Avalon is my first Anya Seton read, and it is set in 10th century England during the prevalent Viking raids and the ever-present discord between Saxons and Danes. It tells the story of a young nobleman from Provence who has a vision of Avalon, and a Cornish girl who belatedly learns about her disreputable pedigree. The two meet by chance (after the former gets stranded off the Cornish coast on his way to King Edgar’s court), and together they travel to England, where their lives radically change ...more
Very enjoyable. It was nice taking a travel through history in a period of time not so frequently written about. The up and down see saw of Merewyn's and Ruman's star crossed love was heartbreaking at times. I don't want to say more to give out the end.

It isn't Katherine by a long shot, but still a good read, and I would recommend to any lover of historical fiction.
Mandy Moody
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Avalon was my 3rd Seton novel, and my least favorite of the three.
Even a sub-par Seton is a good read, though :)
Merewyn and Rumon, both orphans of royal descent, are on their way to the court of King Edgar. Merewyn plans to live with her aunt, Abbess of Romsey. Rumon hopes to be given a place at court.
But Rumon carries a secret - the truth of Merewyns birth. She is not the descendant of Arthur, as she was always told by her mother, but the product of rape by a viking raider. Her parentage will u
Based on this novel, I'm not sure why Anya Seton has such a reputation as a great historical writer. This book was dull and not-at-all exciting.

Merewyn at 14 thinks she's a descendant of King Arthur. She finds a 19-year-old man from France, Rumon, wandering around on the heaths of Cornwall. She's just made a pilgrimage to appeal for her mother's life. He's voyaging to the current king's court, being obsessed with Avalon and King Arthur's court. Merewyn's mother dies and Rumon has pledged to her
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This historical novel, set mainly in 10th century Britain, tells the story of a young Cornish girl and a Breton knight, who become caught up in English politics and Viking raids. As usual for Seton, it's well researched and convincing, and I liked the first half or so all right, when Merewyn and Rumon are caught up in English politics and the machinations of beautiful Queen Alfrida. Later, though, it became too episodic, skipping years at a time and interrupting character arcs; often, the charac ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me. After looking at a lot of reviews on Goodreads, I was a little hesitant from reading it, because many people found this book to be disappointing, and I could have agreed during the first fifty or so pages of the book, which were kind of awkwardly written and cliché. But after that I started to really enjoy the book.

The book tells the story of fictional Merewyn, a poor young girl from Cornwall who has been told by her mother her entire life that she is a descendent of Kin
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't honestly bash on the woman who wrote "Katherine" but I didn't really like this book. By the end of the book I felt like I didn't even know Merewyn. She was so fickle and confusing. And Rumon was so conflicting. I don't think I liked either of them. Well I liked Rumon at the end. You can tell the extensive research that went into this book and I found that interesting, but the plot was ineffective. I felt like I was in three different plots by the end: with Alfrida in the beggining and th ...more
Nick Phillips
This was a father's day present last year from my younger daughter, she bought it for me partly because we live in Avalon (though not necessarily the one sought by Rumon in the novel), partly because my office window overlooks the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey and partly because she was at the time attending a school named for St Dunstan. With all these connections I had an immediate affinity with the story but that of itself would not have been sufficient should the writing be poor or the characte ...more
Ami Haid
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If ever been a book has been written that perfectly captures the human experience, then Avalon is it. Anya Seton is able to write a story about impossible love, and longing, of pride, and mistakes and the consequences we pay for them for the rest of our lives.
The story is centered around the characters Rumon and Merewyn, and their love for one another (albeit at different points in their lives), and all the places this love or lack of it takes them.
The story may not exclusively be a romance no
Deborah Pickstone
A re-read of an old favourite. Anya Seton really was an astonishingly good writer of HF in her era. I read everything she had written in my early teens and have re-read most of them at least once since. Avalon is one of my three favourites of hers - the others are Devil Water and Green Darkness. In fact, my life-long love of HF stems from the novels of Anya Seton and Margaret Irwin. If you have never read either of these writers, do give them a try!
International Cat Lady
Meh. This book was okay, and it did hold my interest all the way through... however, there was a huge emphasis on Catholicism and Catholic guilt that was awfully heavy-handed. The part of the book where one of the main characters lives in Iceland and Greenland (and for a time gives up her religion) was the most engaging for me, as it wasn't beating me over the head with religious issues. I don't mind religious characters, but I don't enjoy religious books, and this was definitely the latter. Als ...more
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book because I really enjoyed Anya Seton's book "Katherine". I didn't like this one nearly as well. Toward the end I just didn't care anymore what happened, I just wanted it to be over. I also had a hard time with the pronunciation of the names of some of the people and places. I wasn't sure how some names were pronounced and I would get bogged down in the story trying to figure out how they should sound. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but it was far from the bes ...more
Coleen Dailey
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set at the turn of the first millenium, this story is about Britain, Vikings and early kings. Arthur is already a legend by the time of this book. It had travel to Iceland, Greenland and the "New World" as well as intrigue and politics of England trying to become and remain a united nation in the face of attack by Vikings. I have read one other book by this author -Katherine about Katherine Swynford and have enjoyed them both. I would highly recommend.
This book by Anya Seton is based on actual people and events in the 10th century before the conquest of England. It is the story of Marewynn, a young girl in Cornwall who has always believed she is a descendant of King Arthur. It follows her life from Cornwall to Iceland and Greenland and back to England. It is also about Rumon a young man from France of royal birth. These two will cross paths at different times in their lives and see many changes.
turns out it is sn older book -1964- which might explain the style. I found it plodding and frequently dull. the characters had such potential but the author never let them take off. there were plenty of fascinating locales but she didn't take advantage of them to create a compelling narrative that explored new places and cultures. the story line is dated and stale.
Well this was certainly no Katherine. Rumon irritated the heck out of me, not a strong enough male romantic lead. The era was interesting and it was worth reading.
WHAT A BOOK!! Another masterpiece by Anya Seton and I must re-read Katherine some day.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does 3 stars mean? It was good, it was OK, it was fine, I'd recommend it to someone interested in historical fiction about England in years that only have 3 digits.

Another 3-star novel about 3-digit England is Julian Rathbone's The Last English King, which starts where this book leaves off: Avalon takes place during the reigns of Edgar, Edward, and Ethelred the Unready, while The Last English King starts with the death of Edward the Confessor, and continues through the Norman conquest. Alth
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing read. I appreciated the detail that went in to this well-researched piece of historical fiction (keeping in mind that it was written over 50 years ago). I enjoyed the saga, however, I really wanted to see more deeply into the characters. As it was, I didn't really love any of them, though I appreciated the theme of redemption and peace. 4-stars for writing style, research, and overall story; 3-stars for characters whose minds needed more exploring.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Story set around 1000 AD about Vikings, the English monarchy and the church.
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Game of Thrones meets Vikings

I first came across this book on the bookshelf of American relatives I was visiting as a teenager. I was attracted by the title, since "The Mists of Avalon" was the big hype of those days. I did like this but my English wasn't good enough yet to really appreciate the story. When I visited my relatives again a few years later, I was able to find the book second-hand (exactly the same old hardcover edition from the 60's) and re-read it, appreciating it even more - and
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know what I loved about this book? That the two protagonists didn't end up together! I am so happy that it was realistic in that sense. I was worried that it might turn out to be like her novel Katherine, where it took the whole novel for the two of them to end up married. I thought this would follow the same route, but thankfully it did not.

I loved how we got so much history in a small novel. We were in King Edgar's court, followed by the upheaval and murder of King Edward to place Ethelre
Apr 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Avalon. It is not the best Anya Seton book (that honor goes to Katherine). However, for a book set in the Dark Ages, it is absolutely fantastic. Anya Seton did a fantastic job transplanting readers into a time about which we know little. I knew nothing going into the novel about the Saxon kings and the Vikings. Seton did a great job in helping readers understand how scary and uncertain this time period was. Seton also gives a fascinating look into Viking society, something I knew little ...more
Kelly Keel cabreros
I enjoyed the history and detail in this story. Well written and intriguing. I'd give 2-stars for the characters: although I understood the message of redemption and peace, I didn't feel like I knew characters, nor at times did I like them very much.
Steve Lindahl
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Years ago I read two books by Anya Seton: Katherine and My Theodosia. I remember loving both of those and I'm currently working on my own novel set in tenth century Sweden and England. I decided to read Avalon partly as research and partly because I knew I would enjoy it. In my memory, the other two Seton novels were more powerful than this one, but that could be due to the span of years since I read them. In any case, this is a five star read.

The plot tells the story of Rumon, a French nobleman
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Conquest
  • The Shield of Three Lions (Alix of Wanthwaite, #1)
  • The Child of the Holy Grail (Guenevere, #3)
  • Within the Fetterlock
  • The Town House (House, #1)
  • The Seventh Son
  • I Am the Chosen King (Saxon #1)
  • Hugh and Bess: A Love Story
  • The Reckoning  (Welsh Princes, #3)
  • Wintercombe (Wintercombe, #1)
  • The Brothers of Gwynedd (Brothers of Gwynedd #1-4)
  • The First Princess of Wales
  • The Founding (The Morland Dynasty, #1)
Anya Seton (January 23, 1904 (although the year is often misstated to be 1906 or 1916) - November 8, 1990) was the pen name of the American author of historical romances, Ann Seton.

Ann Seton was born in New York, New York, and died in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. She was the daughter of English-born naturalist and pioneer of the Boy Scouts of America, Ernest Thompson Seton and Grace Gallatin Seton-
More about Anya Seton...

Share This Book

“There was no such thing as pure happiness. How many years it took to learn that! Always some dark fretted thing which unbalanced the ease one had laboriously found.” 1 likes
“The knights were disgusted. They said that all that fiddle-faddle was well enough for saints, or might have been a thousand years ago, but the Lord Jesus would certainly be the first to command Christians to kill pagans. Rumon announced that he did not think so.” 1 likes
More quotes…