Kathleen's Reviews > The Mists of Avalon

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
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's review
Jul 08, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, read-in-2009
Read in July, 2009

It is telling that the way to speak dismissively of this book would be to call it a well researched epic retelling of Arthurian legend with a startling depth of character study. Each person in this story is real, interesting, and ultimately comprehensible. Thus I can actually hate Gwenhwyfar for a hypocritical slave to the patriarchal church and yet understand why she must focus so evangelically on the sins of others because she is unable to face her own fears. This of course makes her a coward and I hate her more than I could hate any person I understood less, and she's a character in a book! Even to be dismissive I would have to admit that I read this novel as slowly as possible because I dreaded the end--not that the end to the Arthurian legend could ever be a surprise--and I knew that every page I read was one fewer that I would get to read. Every word of this tale is beautiful.

When not dismissing this book as a beautiful novel, however, this story is an interfaith meeting. The overarching theme of the novel--intertwined with natural cycles, love, death, creation, and authority--is the conflict of Christianity with the pagan religions it replaced. As Kevin the Merlin answers Morgaine when she asks why Christians feel the need to restrain the worship of others, "There seems to be a deep change in the way men now look at the world, as if one truth should drive out another--as if whatever is not their truth, must be falsehood." So clearly Bradley tackles the issue as it exists in our world today. And the answer that she gives 876 pages later is the same as the introduction, but only presented at the end of one of the many paths to truth can it be understood. That all the gods are one God, and all the goddesses one Goddess, and each person has their own truth.

I may just cry again, not because the story is particularly sad, but only that it is so beautiful, and I have no more of it to read.

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10/19/2016 marked as: read

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