TAS's Reviews > The Mists of Avalon

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
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it was amazing
Read 2 times

Ok, so it's a long, LONG one (nearly 900 pages)! But SO worth the time commitment!

Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-99) has created a brilliant and distinctive take on the Arthurian Legend most of us history lovers know so well. Because instead of Arthur's story, this version tells the story through the eyes of the women who played such powerful roles. Arthur, Lancelot, Uther Pendragon, and other men are all there, but playing secondary roles.

Now, for a warning. The novel has quite a cast of characters, that may initially be difficult to follow (particularly since a couple of the names are so similar):
• Igraine, Arthur's mother, married to the Duke of Cornwall, but pursued by the powerful King Uther Pendragon.
• Morgaine is Igraine's young daughter with the Duke of Cornwall.
• Morgause is Igraine's younger sister
• Vivienne, Igraine's half sister, the high priestess of Avalon
• Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere) who becomes Arthur's wife
Suggestion: As you are first introduced to all the characters, make yourself a cheat sheet, with the names and relationships of the key players. That will help keep them straight until you begin remembering them on your own.

The book also devotes time to the story of the struggle between the Pagan religion of the Celts and the newer and rapidly spreading Christianity. This was an aspect I had never associated with the legend of King Arthur. But it added a deep dimension to the telling of the story.

Above all, what sets this book aside from the others, for me, is Bradley's writing style. She has managed to conjure up something reminiscent of older English. Though easier to understand. It took me about 100 pages to get completely comfortable with it, but I came to see how much it added to the experience of reading. Because every time I opened the book, the combination of story and language felt like time travel, instantly transporting me back to the time of King Arthur. It's difficult to explain just how immersive reading this novel came to feel.

I am not generally a fan of science fiction (what Bradley is mostly known for) and was therefore not familiar with her before this book. But I did go on to read the other novels in the series she wrote relating to King Arthur. This one is the first (and in my opinion the best and a not-to-be-missed book), published in 1983.
There are also:
The Forest House (1993) written WITH Diana L. Paxson
Lady of Avalon (1997) written WITH Diana L. Paxson
Priestess of Avalon (2000) written WITH Diana L. Paxson
*There are four more books written by Diana L. Paxson ALONE (after Bradley's death), but I didn't read those.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will include that following Bradley's death, two of her children accused her of child sexual abuse, which has marred her overall reputation among fans.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
January 1, 1989 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
December 30, 2013 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
January 30, 2019 – Shelved

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