The Mists of Avalon- by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I have always been interested in the various Arthurian legends, probably helped by the school I attended where the pupils were split into various houses all named after the Knights of the Round Table. I first came across this story years ago and must admit that when I first read it, I did struggle with the book which is surprising as it is an interesting take on the story and ending up giving on the whole thing. I do not like doing that with books, so recently revisited it to see if I felt different towards it.
This is the description:
Here is the tragic tale of the rise and fall of Camelot - but seen through the eyes of Camelot's women: The devout Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's Queen; Vivane, High priestess of Avalon and the Lady of the Lake; above all, Morgaine, possessor of the sight, the wise, the wise-woman fated to bring ruin on them all...
As the description says the story is told through the eyes of the women around Arthur – The main character is Morgaine or Morgan le fey as she is normally called; she talks of Arthur before he becomes King and after and shows how their relationship following the trickery of Vivane helped to cause the destruction of Camelot by Mordred
I really liked Morgan the most, she is strong and humorous, and you can see as the book goes on and life changes her to a dark and powerful woman why she does what she does.
Gwenhwyfar or Guinevere, I found annoying even on the second reading - at one stage I found myself wanting her to be real so I could slap her, as she was weak and annoying at all times and always seems to be complaining about something
The male characters are also little one dimensional, which I suppose is understandable as this is a tale from the womens point of view, even Arthur himself comes across as a little weak
This is a long book, and I am afraid that it does drag at times, with little action and a lot of the emphasis of the plot being on the struggle between paganism and Christianity.
A lot of reviews I have read on this book say that this is the best book that they have ever read on this subject and only a very few go against this and go to the opposite extreme and say it’s awful.
I would say that though I do not hate this book, I do not love it either. It did take me two attempts to read it, but once I had, I was pleased I had persevered.
I have read better (Bernard Cornwell’s The Warlord Chronicles for a start) but this is still a good book. Getting the womens point of view does give it an interesting twist, if you can get past Guinevere that is!
Therefore, if you are interested in tales of Britain and King Arthur, then I would say give this book a go, and I hope that you enjoy it.
7 out of 10