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

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  1,419 Ratings  ·  102 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 as intrinsically 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 war ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1988)
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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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)
Feb 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Mar 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
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
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
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 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Ugh why did I suffer through this book?

I typically love all things Arthurian but as soon as this book took off into the land of mind reading and telepathic links I couldn't roll my eyes harder.

Road to Avalon is a romantic historical fiction focusing on a pleasant love affair between King Arthur and Morgan (who we know as the evil Morgan le Fey). Of course, many of the character tropes that legend has attributed to the standard characters were lost in this retelling, with it being similar to th
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
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Valentina Morgana la fata
It was a pleasurable reading, I liked it, but it'll never be in between my favorites retelling of the Arthurian saga.
I mean, I grew up with Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Mists of Avalon, how could I love this version?
First of all it lacks in magic.
There isn't the feeling of the legend, of the stories, there is nothing new.
As I said, it is a nice retelling, but nothing more.
Anyway I started it with no high expectations so I wasn't disappointed, I actually really liked the Joan Wolf's style, it
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! I used to read Arthurian legend a lot in my youth and I will always be more drawn to the books that portray Morgan and Arthur's relationship in a positive, loving light. This was absolutely one of them. I even felt that Gwenhyfar was a sympathetic character (even though I still kinda hated her.) The last chapter of the book titled, "Mordred" was impossible to put down and of course I was sobbing by the end of it. The only thing I will say, is that most of the battle scenes went ...more
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars because of course it's well written, otherwise 2. The characters are flat, emotionally sterile and the plot - the re imagining of the legend of Arthur - seems to take place in the magic kingdom not 400CE England. It took me a really really long time to read this and I ended up scrolling madly to the end. It is, essentially, boring.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Melissa Stacy
"The Road to Avalon" is one of my all-time favorite novels. I adore this version of the King Arthur story. I first read the book at age 15 or so, and I always enjoy picking this novel up for a reread. Recommended for anyone who craves a rich love story or an interesting piece of historical fiction.
Oct 11, 2011 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
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
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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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