Tuesday 16 October 2012
Book Review: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
by Marion Zimmer Bradley
"In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, wise-woman, queen."
Morgaine, gifted with the Sight and fated with her brother-lover's doom, recounts the glorious tragedy of Camelot's brief flowering - not as a tale of knightly deeds but as a woman's rounded view of society in the crucible of change.
Through the lives of pious Guinever, ambitious Morguase, Priestiess of Avalon Vivian and her successor as Lady of the Lake, Morgaine herself, this rich and haunting epic reveals a greater threat to the Old People than the Saxons. For the spread of patriarchal Roman ways and a narrow Christianity seem likely to drive the ancient worship of the Mother forever into the mists.
This was the first book dealing with the Arthurian legends that I ever read. I suspect it won't be the last, but in my mind it is certainly one of the best, if not the best.
It made a change to have the legends told from the perspective of the women involved in Arthur's life, rather than just the men and their fight in battles.
Morgaine becomes a sympathetic character rather than the evil witch she is more normally portrayed as. The characters and situations seem so real that when you look away from the book, you are surprised to see modern day things around you. I loved all the little details about her training as a priestess, it was fascinating.
The portrayal of the new Christian religion against the old religion of the goddess was deftly handled and the comparison between the two was interesting.
It's a hard book to put down once started and it's one to read over and over again. I've lost count how many times I've read it now and there is still something new to discover in each reading.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of The Chosen.
Books and Tales will be closing in January 2018.