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The Mists of Avalon | Marion Zimmer Bradley | Review

You may have noticed in one of my previous posts that I recently decided to crack on with my biggest read in a long time. My edition of the book had a little over 1000 pages which, for someone who has mainly been reading short stories and poetry recently, seemed like a major challenge. It certainly took me longer than I expected to read it!

Even if it took me a little while, I’m so glad that I took the time to read it as it was well worth it. The Mists of Avalon is a retelling of the King Arthur myth, with a focus on the often neglected women in the story. Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin take to the sidelines while Guinevere, Igraine, and Morgaine are allowed to tell their stories. Not only must they deal with the changing fate of Camelot, and the increasing prominence of Christianity, but they face a  host of problems just for being women.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, the author of The Mists of Avalon, certainly doesn’t shy away from the unappealing realities of life as a woman in a feudal society.  Each of the characters that the novel tracks deals with more than their fair share of hardship and suffering. I couldn’t decide who I was rooting for the most throughout the entire story, though I loved the way the various narratives wove in and out of one another. It made it one of the most imaginative arthurian retellings that I have read in recent years. Though each of the twists were novel and creative, they worked so well with what you expect from a story about King Arthur and his court. In fact, it made it painfully obvious just how little we usually hear from women such as Morgaine.

While that might have been part of what drew me to The Mists of Avalon, I stayed for the brilliantly complex characters and the epic adventures they faced. I never knew what would happen next as each chapter drew to a close; I was hooked to see what would unfold.

Though it’s without a doubt a hefty read, I would definitely recommend The Mists of Avalon if you’re looking a imaginative and creative take on Arthurian legends.

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