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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,623 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Merewyn has grown up in savage tenth-century Cornwall - a lonely girl, sustained by stubborn courage and by pride in her descent from the great King Arthur. Rumon, a young French prince, has always dreamt of finding the idyllic island of hearsay and legend, Avalon. He gladly leaves his home in Provence but his hopes are dashed when his ship is wrecked off the Cornish coast ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 22nd 2007 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published January 1st 1965)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  3,623 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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A historical novel based on events that occurred in the 10th Century in England, Iceland, and Greenland, Avalon did not live up to my expectations of Anya Seton. The plot of a bit plodding and fairly unsophisticated. However, I did enjoy getting a glimpse of this time period, which is not one that is encountered that often. I now have a better understanding of how the very important Norman conquest came to be and why the Normans came to sit on the throne of England.

The story traces a Cornish gir
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 providi
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.
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know how this criticism will come out, for although I have high hopes for it. I think I've written it because I didn't feel like continuing to read another book, and my heart right now is more watching the neverwinter Nights and Icewind Dale videos in order to write baldurs Gates long-awaited (at least for me) reviews, set in the Forgotten Realms in the Dungeons and Dragons universe ht ...more
Krista Claudine Baetiong
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
Lauren Stoolfire
I love reading books that are based on historical fact that are set this long ago. It feels like she's done a great job researching and recreating their world and life. I definitely recommend picking this up if you're interested in Medieval history and Arthurian stories.
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
Don't we all search our Avalon? Our blessed place. And perhaps, like Rumon and Merewyn we find it in some peaceful, small garden or with a calm, balanced human.

It was a book hard to put down. The adventures, an action, plot twists gripped my whole attention. From Cornwall, through Winchester and the court of English Kings, through Vikings communities (in Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, New Hampshire Coast) and back to England. My favourite mix of historical events and everyday life details, spiced
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Nobody can live a continuous lie and find serenity. I can see that you are not at peace with yourself.”

Well-written historical romance set in the tenth century. Melds what we then knew about both England and the Vikings. Excellent inner voice with historically appropriate attitudes. Better-than-average rendering of dialects.

“Always we live on islands of one kind or another.”

The era before the Norman conquest of England is as much terra incognita to most moderns as Viking exploration and settlem
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another captivating -- albeit very very dark --historical novel by the talented Anya Seton. This is not what I was expecting at all: there is no romance, just intrigue and violence, and a lot of traveling to extremely unexpected places. Despite all of that, I was up until 2 am after "just a chapter before I go to sleep" and couldn't wait to get home from work the two next days to finish it! Here is a link to my review:
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
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
Susan Pearson
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beth Sponzilli
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ages
This is not about the fabled Avalon, or King Arthur, but referenced to through out the story. Another great story by Anya Seton. She just does not write anything bad! This book travels from England to Iceland, Greenland, and back. The Norseman and their raids on England are woven through the story as two main characters Merewyn and Rumon, go on their journeys seeking each other. I haven’t read of this location in any time period.. thought it was interesting.
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
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
Annette Summerfield
Update: November 18 2019:

It turns out that I've read this book before. It did look a bit familiar. I didn't remember what happened in the end. I only remembered a couple parts of the story.
Looking down at my review from before, I didn't find Rumon 'odd' this time. Merewyn did have some happy times in her life.
This is a bit of a spoiler. Not a huge spoiler though.
She hoped for another child towards the last half of the book. I wish it had happened for her. That would have made her incredibly h
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
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! ...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.
I read a lot of historical fiction. This one was a little earlier than I'm used to. Great book though! Very interesting and well v written.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long owned this Anya Seton book, but never read it before. Her Katherine is one of my all time favorite books. This book follows Rumon, a French prince with an insatiable wanderlust looking for the sacred Isle of Avalon, and has him cross paths with a young Cornish girl whose mother claims they are descended from sling Arthur. A deathbed confession and Rumons promise to the dying woman prevent his ever telling her of her true parentage as he conveys her to her Aunt Merewyn, a nun in Shaft ...more
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.
Feb 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have wandered too far from historical fiction into historical romance in reading this book. The author's mechanics of good writing were excellent, and I recommend the book to all readers. On the other hand, I have finished this read feeling unsatisfied. The first half of the book was the much better half. There were intrigues of the Court that I found interesting. A little poison here and a little poison there changed the course of England's history . The main character, Rumon, was of royal bl ...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
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
Dec 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phillipa Gregory hit the nail on the head when she said Seton sacrifices story for factual accuracy. This was an erratic novel when compared to Seton's Katherine. Characters who were set up to be extremely important faded out of the story for long periods of time only to resurface briefly and in unsubstantial ways. I enjoyed the novel for its education on Viking culture and explorations, but this was far from a perfect novel and I would point readers to Katherine if they are looking for a solid ...more
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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-

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