This is one of those books that have been sitting on the shelf for years, waiting to be read. I knew I’d get to it eventually… and now I have.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
My Rating: 4 / 5
Here is the magical legend of King Arthur, vividly retold through the eyes and lives of the women who wielded power from behind the throne. A spellbinding novel, an extraordinary literary achievement, THE MISTS OF AVALON will stay with you for a long time to come….
I’ve heard this book referred to as feminist Arthurian legend. I’m well-versed in most of the major texts about the fabled king and his Knights of the Round Table and appreciated this interpretation for many things. I loved that it is told through the eyes of women–Igraine, Morgaine, Gwenevere, and more. I loved that it fleshed out Druidic religion and addressed the problems of rigid medieval Christianity. I loved that, while focusing on the central tale, it wove together many of the minor stories found in other Arthurian texts. This book bears weight in many ways–one being it is over 800 pages long, another being it’s somber tone. This isn’t a happy tale.
Bradley’s impressive story frustrated me at times. Because characters were complex, they often annoyed me. Gwenevere (spelled Gwenefhar in this story) drove me crazy for being a jealous, weak-minded fool. The plot was also a bit sprawling for my taste and it was sometimes hard to keep track of the passing of years. There were a massive amount of side characters that were sometimes hard to keep track of. More than anything, though… this book was long. It took me over a month to read and I found myself plowing through just so I could move on to other things.
If you like high fantasy and Arthurian legend, I definitely recommend this book. For those looking for something lighter, I’d give it a pass.
Check out my On the Shelf page for more reviews!