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on July 6, 2004
I am, perhaps, somewhat biased about this book. I've read it, probably, at least a dozen times: let's put it this way, my hardcover copy is falling apart. Clearly I'm a fan, not just of Arthurian fiction but of Marion Zimmer Bradley as well.
A life-long enjoyment of Arthuriana will teach you one very clear thing: there is no definitive story or Arthur, and therefore all interpretations are as valid as the next. The existence of Arthur can barely be proven, and his identity is certainly up for debate. The stories of Camelot, the Round Table, and certainly of Lancelot and Guinevere are all Norman-French additions to a tale set hundreds of years prior in the Dark Ages. Arthur is an enduring legend but, as we know him, mostly a legend nonetheless.
Bradley's story, then, of the tale of Arthur through the women who knew him, is no less valid an interpretation than any of the rest, and certainly a unique one. Rich with its own legends and myths, "The Mists of Avalon" begins with Igraine, and goes forward through the eyes of Viviane, Morgaine, Morgause, and Gwenhwyfar, each with their own perspective on what truly were momentous times in the history of Britain. As Arthurian myth, it stands on its own two feet as well as any other, with its tales of war, love, religion, loyalty and betrayal spread across and repeated through several generations, closing with the end of an era and the beginning of Saxon rule over the island.
It is also, however, a tale of one human woman, Morgaine, and her life: her beginnings, her path, her faith, her love, her choices, her mistakes, and ultimately, her will to survive. The lesson of "The Mists of Avalon" that I take with me each time I read it is this: we are born to strive towards something, and in the struggle, we sometimes misstep along the way. It is our free will that gives us the ability to make mistakes, and also to accept them, later, as part of being human. It is, in many ways, the struggle that matters most, not the outcome.
This is the lesson of Morgaine's life, and it is what makes "The Mists of Avalon" a life-altering experience for me, and for many others who have read and taken it to their hearts.
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on January 9, 2014
I am now genuinely impressed.

It was a little slow to start, but it is ending very well. The theme of the book is a little unusual. It proposes to re-tell the legend of King Arthur but from the women's point of view. It is more, Arthur from Avalon's point of view.I have read at least a dozen different versions of this legend, so I know all of the major elements that are usually found in it. They are all here, in this book, but I have never seen them so well addressed and so well integrated to the story.

There are many, new, differences. For instance, there is no "sword in the stone"; that is just superstitious peasant gossip. Morgan Le Fey is usually portrayed as a twisted and villainous Evil Sorceress. In this book, she is the most sympathetic, most loved and most respected heroine. She calls her Morgaine of the Fairies. But, we can understand very well how she could be seen as the Evil Sorceress. It is as if the legend had always been told from the perspective of the Christian church. The Victor writes History.

The author also throws in all kinds of other things. She even brings in Tristan and Isolde, though she calls them Durstan and Isotte. She gives a scathing account of St. Patrick, whom she calls Bishop Patricius. We have always been told that St. Patrick rid the isle of Ireland of its snakes. I always had a problem with this. How many snakes could possibly have lived in Ireland? But, Morgaine explains that Patricius was not at all referring to reptiles. He meant the Celtic Druids. These are the "snakes" he eliminated in Ireland.

I think I will remember this book as the best account of the King Arthur legend that I have ever read. It certainly makes a lot more sense than any of the others
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on February 6, 2009
This book was given to me as a present over 15 years ago, and for some reason I held onto it though I never picked it up to read... I finally just finished reading it, and I'm so glad I hung onto it for all this time! Beautifully written, it is an intriguing and unique perspective of the Arthurian legends. Character development is fantastic and MZB takes you through several generations of key players, creating ever more depth in a compelling plot. The continual contrasting of paganism and Christianity is fascinating, and the feministic perspective is refreshing without being over-zealous... If you enjoy fantasy with both mythical and historical approaches, if you value character development and beautiful prose, this is a book I highly recommend!
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on June 28, 2004
WOW. This book is fantastic in every way. I recommend this book to anyone--at any time--in any place. This book has changed my life and the way I look at things. PLEASE READ IT! Please make me feel as if I am not the only one who has had a part in this beautiful story of the women of Camelot.
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on July 13, 2004
I won't spoil the book for any potential readers out here, but I will say one word: masterpiece. This is the crowning glory of Marion's works, and I would go so far as to say that it is the crowning glory of Arthurian literature as well! I was so absorbed in it that I finished it in a week, and it has been my absolutely most favorite book ever since!
By the way.. if you're thinking of reading any of the "Song of Ice & Fire" books by George R. R. Martin.. rethink yourself and read this series instead.. it is MUCH better and more worth your time!!!
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on May 22, 2004
I've always loved the King Arthur and Camelot books and movies. I loved that Marion Zimmer Bradley told the story from the womens perspectives. It put a twist on what I've read and seen in other books and movies. I felt for these characters, Morgan of the Fairies, Gwenhwyfar, Lancelot, Ingraine, Vivian, and of course Arthur. But at the end of the book I really disliked Gwenhwyfar, Lancelot, and Arthur and was hoping for Morgan to come out happy. With all of her power she was the one who struggled the most in her life.
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend and it has become on of my favorite reads thus far.
The book does build tension between the old Pagan religion and Christianity. Morgan and Arthur were both born to Ingraine, who was daughter to the Lady of the Lake (Pagan). Ingraine was married off young and sent to Cornwell (Christian) and had Morgan. Then when her husband died she married Uther (Arthur's father). That part of the book just in itself is very interesting reading. Morgan was sent to Avalon to study the old ways (Pagan religion) while Arthur married Gwenhwyfar and she persuaded him to be a Christian King. In my opinion that's where the major twists and turns of the book starts. The author details (more so than I've seen in other books) the Pagan religion and the ways of Avalon.
This is a very lengthy read... but it grabs you and keeps you wanting more page-by-page.
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on April 30, 2004
I received this book in the early 90's as a birthday present - and have loved it ever since. I've read it through at least 10 times, each time picking up a little bit more (which is easy to do given the length!) It puts a whole new spin on King Arthur's half sister, Moragaine, aka Morgan le Fey. I think the introuduction where Morgaine speaks really adds a lot to this story that is filled with love, deception, pride, loyalty, revenge and amazing strengths and weaknesses of character. I do believe Arthur could have been portrayed as a bit stronger - he was strongly influenced by so many people, I often wondered if he ever made any decisions on his own. Now that the prequels are out, I recommend reading them first. They set the tone and help you understand Vivaine's reasons behind actions that otherwise make your heart scream. I also recommend the reading the book before seeing the movie. There were many scenes cut out of the movie and much that needed explanation. This book was - by far - MZB's masterpiece!
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on April 23, 2004
Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon" is one of my favorite versions of the Arthurian legend. I first read the novel in the early 1990s, right after its publication. I reread it recently and was surprised at how much I enjoyed this extraordinary novel the second time around. I turned the pages more slowly and took more time to savor Ms. Bradley's excellent narrative and fresh version of the legendary saga of the rise and fall of Camelot. Her take on the classic characters gives them new depth and dimension. She tells her tale from a feminine perspective, and while the King and knights of Camelot dwell on war, battles and keeping their golden city and realm safe, along with focusing on chivalric honor, the women have different priorities and concerns.

The tale is told from the points of view of the much maligned Morgaine, (Morgana Le Fey), Priestess of Avalon and Gwenhwyfar, (Gwynivere), Christian princess and future queen of Camelot. Although most of the events of the traditional Arthurian legend are presented here, it is extremely interesting how the tale, told by men, changes when viewed through the eyes and experiences of a woman. This is also the important story of the political and religious conflict between the new Christianity and the "old ways" of goddess worship. Believers of each religion seek to control the throne, but ultimately Christianity ascends to be the organized religion of the land. Since Morgaine is a Druid High Priestess, it would explain why she received such a bad rap in Christian civilization. The reader also views other famous female characters from a different vantage point, including Igraine, Morgaine's and Arthur's mother,
Ms. Bradley follows Morgaine from childhood to Priestess in her home on the Isle of Avalon, the center of Druidism and goddess worship since the Roman occupation forced the religion underground, where it remained long after the Roman departure. Mists surround this mystical isle, protecting it and its inhabitants from all who do not have the psychic powers to penetrate the barrier. Morgaine has dedicated her life to preserving her ancient religion and tries to defend it against the growing numbers of her countrymen and the Camelot royalty who exchange the old ways for Christianity. She is also a very powerful person and struggles against the stereotypes which expect her to adhere to more traditional "feminine," (dependent), behavior and roles.
Bradley also follows the lovely Gwenhwyfar from the innocence of her girlhood to her rise as King Arthur's Christian Queen. She deeply fears Druid magic and her terror causes her to miscarry a long awaited baby. King Arthur's acquiescence to his wife's pleas to turn his back on the old ways and adopt Christianity is the beginning of the cataclysmic fall of his reign.
This is a most unique novel and Ms. Bradley's innovative fantasy version of Camelot, Britain during the Dark Ages, and the profound changes which took place in the land and among the people during this period had me riveted until I completed the last page. If you are open to a different take on a classic tale, then I highly recommend this wonderful novel.
JANA
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on April 1, 2004
I've always loved the King Arthur and Camelot books and movies. I loved that Marion Zimmer Bradley told the story from the womens perspectives. It put a twist on what I've read and seen in other books and movies. I felt for these characters, Morgan of the Fairies, Gwenhwyfar, Lancelot, Ingraine, Vivian, and of course Arthur. But at the end of the book I really disliked Gwenhwyfar, Lancelot, and Arthur and was hoping for Morgan to come out happy. With all of her power she was the one who struggled the most in her life.
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend and it has become on of my favorite reads thus far.
The book does build tension between the old Pagan religion and Christianity. Morgan and Arthur were both born to Ingraine, who was daughter to the Lady of the Lake (Pagan). Ingraine was married off young and sent to Cornwell (Christian) and had Morgan. Then when her husband died she married Uther (Arthur's father). That part of the book just in itself is very interesting reading. Morgan was sent to Avalon to study the old ways (Pagan religion) while Arthur married Gwenhwyfar and she persuaded him to be a Christian King. In my opinion that's where the major twists and turns of the book starts. The author details (more so than I've seen in other books) the Pagan religion and the ways of Avalon.
This is a very lengthy read... but it grabs you and keeps you wanting more page-by-page.
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on March 25, 2004
This is a book on the legend of King Arthur seen through the eyes of the females who lived during that time. Most of the story is told from the perspectives of Morgaine (morgan la fey), Gwenwhyfar (Guenivere, that's the welsh spelling), Viviane (the Lady of the Lake, and Igraine. There are others, like Morgause and stuff. But those are the most important. The story starts when Morgaine was young and her mother Igraine was still married to the Duke of Cornwall, and the story goes from there to her and Uther's afair, Morgaine being sent to train as a preistess in Avalon, the rise of King Arthur, the incestuous night with Arthur and Morgaine which brings about his only son...which leads to many problems. The love between Lancelet and Gwenhwyfar. Camelot and the round table. All of it is here. And the story breathes new life into a lot of these. Such as the proposal between Arthur, Lacelet, and Gwenhwyfar.
There is also a lot about religion in this book. The constant battle between Christianity and the old pagan religion. And at times, I would get really mad at these christian priests in the book who acted like *they* were higher than god himself. I also enjoyed how the Druid Merlin was wiser about Chistianity than the priests and the prists would always resond with a "The real interpretaions must be left to the priests" and the like. IT's ridiculous, especially since I know people like that for real.
Anyways, if you want an exceptionally well written book about a classic legend, shown from a new perspective...pick this up. This book now has a place in my number three spot of favourite books of all time. Yes!
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