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Forest House [Paperback]

Marion Zimmer Bradley
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1 1995
Eilan, the daughter of a Druidic warleader, is gifted with visionary powers that cause her to be named a High Priestess at the Forest House, but she is unable to resist her forbidden love for the soldier Gaius. Reprint.

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Product Description

From School Library Journal

YA-The setting of this historical/fantasy novel is Roman Briton. Eilan, a Druid girl who has been raised in the cult of the Goddess with the priestesses wielding the power, has fallen in love with a young Roman named Gaius. He is a half-Briton whose mother was of the Druid tribes and whose father is a powerful officer in the Roman legions. The clash between these two cultures and the eventual hope of unification through Eilan and Gaius's son is one of the book's many story lines. Bradley does a masterful job of creating the flavor of the period and the two diverse cultures, as well as strong female characters. With its elements of love story, intense emotions, and mysticism, Forest House will appeal to YAs.
Susan B. McFaden, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The forbidden love of a druid priestess and a Roman soldier mirrors the clash of cultures in Roman Britain in the latest novel by the author of The Mists of Avalon (Ballantine, 1985). The novel evokes an age when three major religions maintained an uneasy coexistence on the island of Britain. Eilan, a daughter of goddess-worshiping druids, and Gaius Marcellius, a half-British Roman, live for the coming of a legendary future king to unite the warring islanders. Bradley envisions the "old religion" as a refreshing blend of classic and revisionist concepts, adding a distinct flavor to her seamless weave of history and myth. Most libraries will want this for their fantasy collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/93.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Shafts of golden light shone through the trees as the setting sun dropped below the clouds, outlining each new-washed leaf in gold. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing prequel to Mists of Avalon March 28 1998
By A Customer
Usually if MZB writes it, I love it. Unfortunately, that isn't the case with The Forest House. I're read Mists of Avalon at least 15 times over the years and will certainly read it 15 more, but the only reason I would read The Forest House again would be to confirm how truly mediocre it is. The concept of the book is wonderful and leaves MZB plenty of room for character development, social commentary, and plotting. However, the book only deliver social commentary. Eilan and Gaius, the main characters, just aren't believable. They meet and fall in love immediately, for no apparent reason. Eilan is supposed to become the High Priestess to take control back from the Druids, but she seems to go along with her grandfather, the Arch-Druid, just as her predecessor did. Gaius seems to be an idealistic young Roman who would risk everything for Eilan, but he caves in to his father's pressure and marries a Roman instead. Nothing seems to follow. The beginning and the ending of the book are the best parts; however, the entire body doesn't bear much relationship to those parts. Since I had put off reading this book for months until a time that I could immerse myself in it and a rereading of Mists, discovering that Forest House is so weak has been a real disappointment. This would be a fine effort for a first-time author, but pretty lame for MZB.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Although not quite as good as MISTS OF AVALON July 15 2004
this prequel is still excellent.
The story is set in the days of Roman occupation of Britain. Gaius, a young Roman officer and son of the local Roman commandant with his British wife has met and fallen in love with Eilan, the daughter of a powerful Druid family. Neither family approves of the match and forces the two apart. For the rest of their lives they met again and again only to be torn apart. Ultimately their unfulfilled love sets the stage for the events in MISTS OF AVALON.
The story is again told, at least in part, from a feminine point of view. As in MISTS there is a greek tragedy feel of unescapable doom. The characters are engaging and 'feel real', the plot is compeling making this a book that is hard to put down. It does not quite live up to MISTS due at least in part, to its more simplistic story line. Unlike MISTS' numerous story lines THE FOREST HOUSE focuses on Eilan and Gaius with Caillean, a priestess of the Forest House filling in gaps. This prequel is also significantly shorter. Still for any fan of MISTS OF AVALON this is a must read and would be enjoyable on its own as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Novel of Avalon & The Lady Of The Lake April 22 2004
Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Forest House" is a prequel to her bestselling Arthurian novel, "The Mists of Avalon." Both novels revolve around the goddess religion in early Britain. "The Forest House," set in 1st century Roman ruled Britannia, is the home of Druidic priestesses who keep the ancient rites of learning, healing, and magic lore. Ms. Bradley writes of the Roman conquest of Celtic Britain and the political and religious implications of the occupation. Roman rule also impacted the role of women in Britain. Goddess worship, women's freedom and power waned under the Romans. This novel gives the author's historical version of Avalon and the Lady of the Lake.
Eilan, the daughter of a Druidic warrior and granddaughter of Ardanos, Arch-Druid of Britannia, is gifted with the "sight" and has longed to serve the Goddess as a healer-priestess in the Forest House. She meets and falls in love with Gauis, a half Roman-half British youth, and son of the Roman Prefect Macellius Severus, second-in-command in Britainnia. They want to marry but are forbidden. Heartbroken, Eilan fulfills her original wish and dedicates herself to the Lady. Ms. Bradley blends a fascinating story with accurate research to give the reader a good picture of early Britain and the various political, cultural and religious factions, both local and Roman, which vied for power there.
Bradley's narrative is clear and her plot is believable, as are her characters. I prefer "The Mists of Avalon," not just because of the subject matter, but because the plot and characters are more complex. However, this is a solid novel with a sound plot and worth the read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 30 2002
By A Customer
I am a fan of MZB chiefly through her Darkover books. I started this with only medium expectations, just looking for a good weekend read. I didn't feel it even came up to that. I was hoping for a story and a world that would grip and engage me. It just didn't happen, and after the first few chapters, I gave up and skimmed the book.

Three things were to blame: The characters, including the two main characters, Eilan and Gaius, were not particularly interesting or given enough development. I never got swept up into the love story, maybe because they seemed so spiritless, submitting without protest to their parents, or in the case of Dieda and Cynric, to Avalon (if she and Eilan looked so much alike, what would have been simpler that to have Eilan take her place?) And Goddess forbid they force their parents' hands by becoming lovers!
Caillean and Lhiannon, the priestesses, are each in their separate ways, too depressed and/ or powerless to make good characters to identify with. Gaius' wife Julia could have been a strong, interesting character, but she tapers out.
I didn't feel the ancient worlds were evoked very realistically either (although I admit I skimmed most of the Avalon sections). Sometimes it reads more like someone displaying their research than creating a world (which MZB is fully capable of doing.)
The final problem I had, which led to my skimming most of the book, was the strain of sexual puritanism in the portrayal of Druid/Goddess culture. The emphasis on virginity for women (to the point of fathers killing women who "shame" themselves) has more to do with patriarchal cultures and religions than Goddess-centered ones. Certainly there is no research I know of to back up this view.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
can't put it down!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forest House
Like all of the Zimmer Bradley books it verges on being a masterpiece and takes you to a world we lost long ago...The Mists of Avalon is a true masterpiece... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Joseph Hancock
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
This is a gorgeously written book, and I've been reading Marian Zimmer Bradley's work for years. It's not quite up to snuff with her masterpiece THE MISTS OF AVALON (for which it... Read more
Published on May 31 2004 by Jill Elaine Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Wonderful!!!
I loved this book. It was fantastic, thou maybe not a great as the Mists of Avalon it was amazing. I recommend it to people that are interested in early Britain times. Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by "sakiara"
4.0 out of 5 stars Go estrogen go!
The set up-- that a young Druid Priestess shares a forbidden love with a half-breed Roman soldier that threatens to destroy both their worlds-- promises gory battles, love scenes,... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2004 by JunkyardMessiah
4.0 out of 5 stars The Forest House
Not the best in the series, but great in and of itself. This is the beginning, where the line of Morgain and Viviane is rooted.
Published on Jan. 10 2003 by jagzier
5.0 out of 5 stars A Definite Must for Mists of Avalon Lovers
Bradley is a literary master, as is demonstrated by all of her Avalon works. The tales grab hold of the reader and suck you into Avalon with the characters. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2003 by Kelly Houser
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the Brilliance Audio Version
I checked this out after listening to Davina Porter read "Mists of Avalon". I couldn't get past the first half of cassette one. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2002 by Debineezer
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!
I can't give this book 5 stars or even 4 and a half cause its NOWHERE NEAR Mists. But I LOVEd it anyway. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2002 by Kimberly
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best work
After reading the Mists of Avalon, I eagerly anticipated another opportunity to get lost in a Marion Zimmer Bradley novel. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2002 by S. E. Kennedy
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