Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is the Arthurian legend retold in its full glory but this time around, it’s told through the eyes of the women behind the story. I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with the legend of King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table. Characters such as Sir Lancelot, Morgaine, Guinevere and the Merlin should all be characters that many of us have heard of at one point or another. However, I’m also positive that there are many of us out there whom aren’t all that familiar with the overall story as well as what befell of these characters. If you find yourself in this category, I guess this book is as good a place as any to start. However, be warned that this book is huge. In fact, it’s more a of a tome than a book! I’ll also say here that no, you do not have to be a girl to enjoy this book. You’re basically looking in but from a different angle or POV.
Characters. You’re going to be dealing with a whole bunch of them. Honestly though, its not that bad. The actual hard part is trying to remember who is related to who. For the majority of the book, you’ll be reading from around 4-5 different POV’s and some are longer than others. The star of the show of course belongs to Morgaine. Reading about her trials and tribulations of what she had to go through is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s definitely something different than what you’d expect from the other way around where you’d always get to hear it from the male’s point of view and so if you’re okay with this, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the story that much more. Morgaine’s character is much more complex and deep in my opinion than Guinevere’s. Although both women played a huge role in the legend, I honestly felt that it was through Morgaine’s view that I really got to appreciate the story that much more.
The story and writing is not hard to follow along at all. It obviously might take some time in the beginning to get settled in but afterwards, you’ll just be sucked in. If you’re looking for action scenes like in traditional telling of this legend, you’ll be sorely disappointed because there basically is none. This reiterates the point that this tale is told completely from the women’s side of things and in that time period, women don’t go into the battlefield but sit at home and wait until their husband or son comes back. This begs the question then: will there be a lot of filler in the book? In my opinion, I really wouldn’t consider it filler but more so repetitive parts. I really thought the book could have been shrunken down in size but yet still get the point across for the majority of things. Guinevere’s character for example, was to me a bit shallow and one dimensional. A lot of her parts could have been cut out and none would think her differently.
Obviously, Mists of Avalon requires a lot of dedication and patience to get through. I don’t believe I have read anything that dealt with Arthurian legend since I was in middle school and so this was a fresh take on a famous story. Everyone I’m sure knows of the great sword Excalibur and the magical scabbard but I doubt many knows of how or why it came to be in King Arthur’s possession. Throughout time, there has been many stories where women played a pivotal role in war and the outcome of them. What’s also known is that this happened even though they should have been powerless to do so, especially during eras of long gone. Yet somehow, someway, they still manage to insert their influence. This here is no different. Mists of Avalon is a book of romance, jealousy, court intrigue, theology, sorcery, mystery and the rise and fall of a kingdom. Oh and it’s definitely a book with a lot of pages and words. Should you choose to invest in this book, you’ll most likely learn things you haven’t known before even if you’re familiar with one of the greatest legends ever told.