The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Twenty years ago, Marion Zimmer Bradley released her innovative and ground breaking novel, The Mists of Avalon, forever changing the way readers experience the legend of King Arthur. Unlike Sir Thomas Malory, Mark Twain, T.H. White and other male authors, Bradley weaves an epic tale from the point of view of the women in the story. The novel includes most well-loved characters from the saga, all the while giving things a fresh perspective and unique twist thanks to the central narrative by Arthur’s sister Morgaine, otherwise known as Morgan le Fay or Morgaine, Queen of the Fairies.
The movie adaptation, created in 2001, barely skims the surface of this lush and detailed novel. Bradley had an intuitive sense of how to weave facts about life in the middle ages, Celtic mythology and the tension between Druids and the early church around believable characters with very human weaknesses. In an era when women had little say in their lives and destinies, often treated more like property that partners by their spouses, The Mists of Avalon portrays a group of empowered and powerful women who push the boundaries of what is acceptable and proper. Though the story spans more than Arthur’s full lifetime, the book never seems to drag. It flows like a wonderful river of words; sometimes quickly and sometimes meanderingly. The pathos and ending of the tale are never in question and yet the reader is swept along, marveling at the new vistas offered by Bradley’s imagination. While the reader may wish there could be another ending to the legend, when the cover closes on the book, it is very hard not to sign in contentment and satisfaction at a tale so well told.
The Mists of Avalon should be on the Bucket List of every fantasy enthusiast. If you haven’t read it in a few years, make time this challenge to pull it out and fall in love with reading all over again.
Large Paperback format, 876 pages, published in 1982 by Del Rey