Review: The Mists of Avalon


The time is medieval England, a land of mysticism and rigid faith, where the old religion of Goddess worship and the newly founded Christian religion battle to gain prominence over the hearts and minds of the people. The mystical island of Avalon is the center of the pagan religion, with a temple training Priestesses and Druids into the Mysteries.

But, the island of Avalon is slowly receding into the mists surrounding the lake, as it is pushed further from the memories of men, and only those men who know the location can find it. Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, is determined to bring back the old religion of Goddess worship, prevent Christianity from becoming the one true religion of the land and keep Avalon in the world from which it is being lost.

The 'Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley, starts with the story of Arthur's parents Igraine and Uther Pendragon and proceeds to weave in all the numerous legends surrounding King Arthur and Camelot and a number of characters. We have, Morgaine who is Arthur's half-sister and Lady of the Lake after Viviane, Gwynhwyfar - Arthur's fanatically Christian wife, Lancelet - Arthur's cousin, chief knight and Gwynhwyfar's lover, Mordred - Arthur and Morgaine's son, the Merlin of Britain - one of Arthur's advisers, the famous sword Excalibur, the Round Table of the stories and the Quest for the Holy Grail.

As told from the feminine perspective, Viviane, Igraine, Morgause (Igraine's and Viviane's sister), Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar this forms an interesting re-imagining of the Arthurian legends weaving in all the fantasy elements nicely with the myth of Avalon and the Fairies. The only places I found it to be heavy going was with the endless arguments between the Christian and pagan religions (and there are a LOT of these) and the wearisome, hypocitical, piety of Gwenhwyfar. Also, Arthur as he is written, comes across as being a very ineffectual King - always wanting to please everyone, which is at odds with his fame as a commander of men and a leader on the battlefield.

Well worth a read for a lot of fantasy, medieval culture and for anyone remotely interested in the Arthurian legends. For someone wanting to go a little further back in time to the Romans in Britain, you could watch the Last Legion featuring Aishwarya Rai, though I cannot say I would recommend it!


mystiquedew said...

Lovelllllllllyyyyyy :) :)

yup am fascinated by all the magical thingies..

I think I will picK this one.

Mama - Mia said...

the books you find!! its just awesome!!

you seriously make me want to find a library! not that i would get these ooks, but something hatke could coming up! :)

great post!



Smita said...

Aish baby over a book in fact over any thing????


hehehe but my chances of picking this book??? Hmmm quite far fetched but u never know :D

Lovely review :)

couchpapaya said...

ms.dew - it's a lot of fun, but i gotta warn u abt the xian stuff, gets a bit wearying.

abha - didnt u read the thesis i wrote in reply to u sometime ago abt libraries in blore ;) go for it girl!

smita - ohhh no short forms anymore ?? :) lol abt ash. i just realised, i probably have made mention of her enough times to warrantee a tag ... noooooo yeh kaise hua???? :(( thanks for dropping in!

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