Read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley Online


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.......

Title : The Mists of Avalon
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140177190
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 1009 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Mists of Avalon Reviews

  • Claire
    2019-02-23 07:52

    In 2007 I joined Goodreads and wrote reviews of some of the books that had most transformed me as a reader. I have since, over the years, taken an absurd amount of geek pride that my review of this book is (I think) the most popular one. And for everyone writing "GET OVER YOURSELF" in the comments, as a response to my using my own little corner of the internet to tell a story about how my life as a writer and a Catholic and a woman was shaped by this book, there were a dozen other women responding "OH MY GOD, ARE YOU ME?" I love that. I love this weird little internet mini-community we've built out of being weirdo outcast girls who felt inspired and empowered by this book about a weirdo outcast girl who becomes a raging badass. And then today I read this: this: this: this: about twenty more.Every consumer of art gets to decide for themselves how much the life of the artist matters to them. Sometimes brilliant creative geniuses are assholes. Sometimes they're criminals. Sometimes that makes a difference to how you read their work. Sometimes it doesn't. The words of twenty-six-year-old me, pouring forth my passionate love for MZB's words, remain untouched and unedited below. Because that story, of how I fell in love with that book as a child, is still a true story. I haven't decided whether I will re-read this book again, whether I will keep it or get rid of it, knowing the things I know now about the woman who wrote it. And I'm not telling you what you should do. But MZB's daughter says out loud not only that her mother abused her, but that part of the reason she hid that abuse was because of MZB's status in the SFF community as a champion of women. Because she didn't think anyone would believe her. Because this is an important feminist work. Because her mother's fans would be angry at her for accusing their icon of such horrors. And I won't be complicit in that. --Claire Willett (June 27, 2014)ORIGINAL REVIEW BELOW________________________________________You have to be a particular kind of girl to fall in love with this book the way I did.--You have to be in the sixth grade, a freakishly precocious reader, whose beloved sixth-grade teacher brings a box of her ten favorite books to class and sets them up on the chalkboard and leaves them there for weeks for you to look at, including one HUGE book that looks like it's a billion pages long with some cool fairy priestess chick on a horse on the cover.--You have to have grown up reading King Arthur stories and LOVE the movie "The Sword In the Stone."--You have to be so hopelessly nerdy that you would rather sit on the side of the playground reading than play kickball, never mind how much the other kids make fun of you about it.--You have to be Catholic enough to understand the mentality of the occasionally hateful Christian characters in the book (as well as to be baffled and perplexed by all the sexuality which will make a number of plot elements only make sense to you when you re-read the book as a college student and go, "Ohhhhh. Now I get it").--You have to be the kind of girl who loves and relates to the plain outcast Morgaine who is treated as a freak has to learn how to rely on herself alone. --You have to hate the shallow blonde princesses, even when they seem like they might be kind of nice people, and always root for the feisty brunette. --You have to be a fantasy geek who LOVES any book with swordfighting, magic, princesses, and doomed romance. --You have to be patient enough to read 800+ pages that cover one woman's entire lifetime from before her birth to old, old age.--You have to come to the end of the book and secretly wish that (despite your religious conviction in your Catholic upbringing) Britain had never been Christianized and we were all still witches. --You have to secretly wish you belonged to a mystical female cult where you had to have a blue crescent moon tattooed on your forehead.--You have to wish you knew how to ride a horse in a dress and look majestic, instead of falling off every time you were forced onto a horse at camp or on vacation and now you hate them and they scare you.

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    2019-03-14 13:46

    Hmmm, I would like to see the mini series to this book. I felt it was a good book although it did get boring at times or maybe it was just me! I loved reading about the history. The most I have ever known about Arthur and the gang was through my show, Merlin. The ending was really sad to me 😕 But it was excellent as well, if that makes any sense. Happy Reading! Mel ❤️

  • Virag
    2019-03-06 14:47

    Good lord, I haven't ever hated a book as much as this one.I picked up The Mists of Avalon because I really love Nordic myths, and usually any stories about King Arthur. Everyone seems to adore this book; even my librarian told me that this was a really good Arthurian tale! Well, it's not. It's horrible.First, let me say how turned off I was by all the bashing and hating there was of Christianity. And I'm saying this as the atheist that I am-- I don't believe in God, yet that doesn't mean I am not bothered by the unnecessary, and often narrow-minded hate towards a religion. That's all there was in the first 150 pages, and it was a very recurring theme throughout the book. As if having one stupid priest wasn't enough, the author just had to fit in several more and call each stupider than the previous.Yeah, there were dumb/evil priests and followers of that religion who did horrible things, but there will always be bad people who call themselves followers of a religion. However, this amount of blabbering about stupid, mean, cowardly priests did nothing to advance the plot. At all. I mean if you wanted to write a book in which the antagonists were all evil Christians then you're on the right track, but this was supposed to be a book on King Arthur, dang it, not of your personal hate issues with Christians. Personally, I really don't like it when authors bring up religions in books that aren't nonfiction theology/psychology/history works. Stuff gets brushed over and embellished to make the book in question seem more interesting; and it's infuriating what you'll read. That's exactly the case with The Mists of Avalon. Keep that in mind, Marion Zimmer Bradley. You can rant to a therapist, but don't take it out on a book THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT A WELL-LOVED FANTASY TALE. Just don't take it out on a book in general. What's worse, the author couldn't seem to create a halfway decent female protagonist in all the 800+ pages and the countless women characters.Igraine? No. She's a whiney pushover who convinces herself she's in love with a man her husband hates because she hears a prophecy that she's supposed to bear that man's child (if I heard a prophecy like that, I'd run away). Okay, she didn't love Gorlois, but he was good to her up until she started spending time with a man he clearly distrusted and told her to stay away from (not that I really like Gorlois, but wouldn't you be freaking mad if your wife/husband got all cozy with someone you consider evil?). And besides stabbing her husband, Igraine doesn't do anything. She just sits at home. Wow, my new hero.Vivianne plotted adultery and incest, acted like she loved everyone, but in reality, did horrible things to them. She was even surprised when Galahad, who she barely had anything to do with, didn't love her. Also, did anyone else notice how Vivianne always corrected people and told them "All gods and goddesses are one" and then proceeded to ridicule the Christian God and call him and his followers morons? Hah! Ha ha. I don't know if that was meant to be funny, or if Ms. Bradely was just too stupid to notice the contradiction. Morgaine failed at everything in life. I felt bad for her at being used like that, then for being rejected by Lancelet. But then again, she couldn't care less for her child, hated pretty much innocent Gwenhwyfar, and came up with plans to have Lancelet sleep with her even though she knew he didn't love her; so whatever sympathy I had for her went pretty quick. And it gets even better - she gets married, sleeps with several more people, goes to Avalon again and acts like she's the main goddess, even though she did so many un-goddess like things. I loved how Niniane thought "She should be here in my place, the GREAT Morgaine of the Fairies!" HAH! What did Morgaine ever do besides sleep with her own brother? Gwenhwyfar was worse than Igraine. On the other hand, it was so obvious that Bradely created her solely to make fun of Christians. She must have been like "Oh, I'll create this woman who's a dumb little bitch in heat who everyone will hate. And, bonus: I'll mention how beautiful she is every two pages to make sure all the female readers will be jealous of her and hate her even more! Then I'll make sure to have her pretend to be a pious follower of Christ (even though, in reality, an adulteress is not a pious follower of Christ) and I'll have created a perfect epitome of all Christian women to show the world what nasty morons they are! Yay!!"I mean really? And a lot of people actually agree with this exaggerated, biased, ridiculous nonsense.When I was browsing through 5-star reviews of this book to try and understand why exactly human beings love this trash, someone actually said "...this book makes me want to leave behind my life and become a pagan..." ! (That wasn't the exact quote, but that was the gist of it.)I just... I can't even... Oh yes I can. Become a pagan, then, and have a baby with your own brother at a drunken bonfire. Next, make sure you neglect your child and run around effing tons of other men! By the way, back then protection didn't exist; so be sure not to use any of that either, and see how many STDs and unwanted pregancies you'll get. Homeless and vulgar, isn't Morgaine's portrayal of a pagan lifestyle just wonderful?! Back to the characters - the males were all one-dimensional and flat. They were all extremely handsome and extremely skilled knights and extremely horny. *Coughs* A little originality, please, Bradely? Maybe divert from your view that all men are chauvinist pigs?The one character I kind of liked was Morgause - she's independent, seemed to have a good relationship with her children, and kept Morgaine's secret. But she wasn't anything I really cared about.There also seemed to be a whole lot of describing boring day-to-day activities that, just like all the Christian hate, did nothing to advance the plot. It's like, somebody gets up, stares in the mirror and thinks about some complicated love web, goes downstairs, starts knitting, talks to an old woman who came in from the cold... *47 pages later something tiny happens that helps the story along*. Then another good 1/5 of the book was made up of describing how beautiful this and this person was, and then another person is introduced who is WAY MORE beautiful, and so on and so on. In Morgaine's case, it was terrible. One minute she's plain, then someone calls her beautiful, then she's called ugly, then she's supposed to have an inner beauty, then Morgain does something horrible so I can't see what inner beauty they're talking about, then she's beautiful, ugly, beautiful, ugly...Like, did the author have bipolar attacks while writing this? I honestly don't spend a whole lot of time detailing characters' faces. Tell me they're tall, red-haired, have a scar on their face and that's just perfect. I'm interested in the plot, not the size of everybodys' big toes. Seriously!The writing itself could have been okay, but because its subject was crap, it was not okay. This book was bad, it really was. After a good 150 pages, I just skimmed another 500, and then skipped the last part and skimmed the epilogue. I honestly could care less what happens. stupid.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-19 14:45

    My final book of 2017! I did not think I would finish it before the end of the year. I started it back on October 1st and it was slow going. I often found myself not reading it for days at a time. It really wasn’t capturing my interest. But, with a week to go in 2017 and about 300 or so pages left, I buckled down and finished it at around 8:15 on December 31st!You might think that my opinion of this book will not be stellar considering it was slow going. About a week ago when I committed to finishing it before the end of the year that was where I thought it would end up, too. However, the story really came together for me and I actually quite enjoyed the storytelling. It is indeed a large book and quite a commitment, but if you love fantasy and Arthurian legend, it is worth checking out.In some of my discussions with my book friends we were trying to figure out what Bradley was going for with this book. Having finished, I am not sure it is much clearer. Here are a couple of topics that came up frequently:Feminism – If she was going for the feminist viewpoint, why are pretty much all the female characters unlikable and devious throughout the book? Some of them do come around, but it seems to make women generally seem either sneaky or annoying. Christianity vs Paganism – What amazed me the most about this was that many said they did not remember the opposing religious viewpoints from the book when they read it; that seemed to be the main point of the story. Reading up on Bradley it sounds like she was a practicing Pagan, so it would make sense that she might want to bring this discussion in, but it seemed quite repetitive after a while. It does definitely come into play with the overall resolution of the plot, but I am thinking if you don’t like reading debates on religion on Facebook, you probably wouldn’t want to read 876 pages of it either.Finally, I can say that my overall feelings about this book were skewed by what I found out about the life of the author when I was partway done with the book. I won’t go into it here, but if you Google her or check out her Wikipedia page, you will see what I am talking about.Summary: Many will enjoy this book. It is a big commitment. Some subject matter may be controversial and preachy - but, some really good storytelling.

  • Rachel
    2019-02-26 10:03

    OK I admit, when I told my college Arthurian Lit professor that I'd read and enjoyed this book, he proceeded to give me a quick-before-the-next-class-comes-in lecture about how Marion Zimmer Bradley's "interpretation" skewed wildly from the genre.But I don't care. It's a difficult book (long and utterly depressing,) but it takes the first in-depth look at both women and the pagan Celtic religion of Britain, which Christianity usurped around that time. Evil sorceress Morgan Le Fay is transfered into multi-faceted Morgaine, a woman deeply committed to her family, especially her aunt, Viviane, half-brother, Arthur, and cousin, Lancelet. Gwenhyfar, the simpering Christian princess, was my least favorite, but even she had some complexity, an unhappy childhood, inferiority complex made worse by her bareness, (and obvious jealousy-issues with Morgaine concerning the womens' relationships with Arthur and Lancelet.) Perhaps the most dour of Morgaine's familial ties is that with her son, Mordred, the illigitimate heir of her brother, whom she foolishly put up with her aunt Morgause, easily the most shallow and greedy woman in the entire book.Religion-wise, I found it impossible not to root for Morgaine's Avalon, not only because I knew it was destined to recede into the mists, but because it was matriarchal, and so much more comforting to me than the expansionalist, narrow-minded and mysoginistic version of Christianity prevalent during those times. At the end, Morgaine herslf shows the most tolerance and versatility for diverse cultures- she outlives most everyone else, and grows to accept that her mother goddess is now worshipped as the virgin mary. Quite the contrast from the crone-like Morgan Le Fay, whose only purpose is to destroy the kingdom of Camelot.

  • Amalia Gavea
    2019-02-28 15:04

    This is my favourite book about the Arthurian legend and I have read possibly more than I can remember. Marion Zimmer Bradley succeeded in breathing new life into the Arthurian saga, and at the same time, she didn't step too far away from the spirit of it. Placing the emphasis on the fascinating female characters that shaped the fate of Arthur and of Camelot, she created a monumental work that is now the basis on which most of us rate the works about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.Morgaine is our eyes and ears in The Mists of Avalon. It is through her perspective that we come to know Igraine, her mother, Gorlois, her father, Uther, Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, Morgause, Merlin, Vivianne, Lancelot, and all the other well-known figures of the Arthurian Tales. Is our perspective limited since we get to see the story mostly through her eyes? In my opinion, no, because the writer has created Morgaine in such a way that she comes across as a reliable narrator. She is not a fanatic, but I can feel that she is a good judge of characters and I can relate to her. In stark contrast to her stands Gwenhwyfar, the only character in the book that can be described as a ''snooze-fest''. With her obssessive views about religion, her lack of education, she is so irritating...And of course, her actions are far away from what she names as ''Christian love'', and we all know that she is a hypocrite.The male characters are the ''heroes'' we have come to know from the Arthurian myths. Arthur is Arthur, clever and willing, but weak in judgment and in spirit. I never liked Lancelot much and in Marion Zimmer Bradley's version, he is even more unsympathetic. Mordred's voice comes across strong and clear, voicing desperation and rage against the neglect of his parents and the manner he was begotten, asking for what he feels is his by right. I must confess I've always sided with Mordred in every version of the myth I have come across. Two very interesting male characters besides Mordred are Accolon and Kevin the Bard.In my opinion, what makes this novel so powerful is its ending. It depicts completion, the way life comes full circle, and the fact that we may give different names to people and places and elements in our lives, but most of the times we all mean the same thing, fighting over thin air, really.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-22 07:44

    The Arthur myth from the point of view of Morgaine le Fay, pagan priestess. Supposedly a feminist take on the old legends. There is one main problem with this approach: let's face it, women's lives in the dark ages were pretty boring. And rather than break out of this mold with strong female characters, Bradley talks a lot about spinning, weaving, and having babies. The female characters are either contemptible or irritating, or both. The male characters are cardboard--Arthur is as heroic as a limp dishrag, Merlin just an old man sitting in his rocking chair. The pagan-Christian thing is overwrought and shrill, devolving mostly into interminable theological debates between characters that cover the same ground over and over and over again.A lot of things irritated me about this book, but nothing more than the simple lack of a compelling narrative construction. Nothing happens. There is dialogue, which mostly rehashes things that were already talked about. And then there is monologue, in which the weak and mostly contemptible characters thrash around in their heads so much that it would make Dostoyevsky cringe. It makes me angry that you could even try to tell the Arthurian legend--even from a feminine point of view--without looking at the epic clashes between the knights of the round table and their enemies.Horrendously disappointing. For a fantasy novel, George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones does everything that this book tries to do, and does it ten times better. For more of a historical view, Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom is a much more fun and interesting look at the clash of Christian and pagan civilizations, and even has characters that you don't hate.

  • Manny
    2019-03-05 11:47

    My favorite fantasy novel written by a serial rapist and child-abuser. Now that I think about it, I'm interested to remember that the person who recommended it to me was also a big fan of Nietzsche.

  • Genevieve
    2019-03-16 10:47

    This is one of the few books that I hate. I'm a feminist and I love King Arthur stories and The Mists of Avalon makes me vaguely nauseous. I read the whole thing hoping it would get better, and it didn't, though there are a few good bits. Overall I found it offensive to the Arthurian legends, to history, and to women, and being a 15-year-old girl who liked fantasy novels did nothing to change this opinion.

  • Markus
    2019-03-05 07:10

    "There is no such thing as a true tale. Truth has many faces and the truth is like to the old road to Avalon; it depends on your own will, and your own thoughts, whither the road will take you."Again, I feel the need to put my thoughts down about some of the books that changed my life and made me into the guy I am.Those who know me just one tiny bit also know that The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book ever. Go a little bit deeper, and you also know that Frank Herbert's Dune is high up on my list of all-time favourites. The point is that those two books were the first real fantasy books (using the term loosely here) I read in my life. But... in reality I have a holy trinity of fantasy books from my childhood. The three books that made me love fantasy in the first place and go to explore other worlds and the magic between the pages of masterpieces.I've already confessed my undying love for LotR and Dune. The third aspect of the trinity is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.Like I already wrote about in slightly more detail in my review of Darkover Landfall, Marion Zimmer Bradley is, despite it all, one of my favourite authors. This book is what introduced me to her works.But as I write these words, I realise one sad fact about this wonderful story. I remember nothing of it. Not one bit. Unlike the other two books mentioned in the beginning, I have never read this one again after the first time. And now I'm scared to actually do it. Because I don't want to sully childhood memories with the harshness of reality.The only thing I do remember is that I absolutely loved it. And still do, passionately so. And that's the important part, right?So, depending on whether or not I eventually read this again, and depending on whether or not I have more thoughts to think and more words to write, maybe there will be a full review about the loveliest work of Arthurian fiction at some point."And so, perhaps, the truth winds somewhere between the road to Glastonbury, Isle of the Priests, and the road to Avalon, lost forever in the mists of the Summer Sea."

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-03-01 15:13

    Though I am wont to blame the inescapability of genetics for various aspects of an Epicurean reading of Absurdism, I tend to pause, for some reason, in ascribing gender differences as stringently. It's difficult to say if this is simply a bias of wishful egalitarian thinking or truly an outgrowth of my understanding, for precisely the reasons that Epicureus is worthy to interrupt my many Suicides. So, when I say that women seem more than men to be capable of breaking the Tolkien Curse laid so thickly upon Modern Fantasy (barely proper), it is with trepidation.Flatly blaming rude and wretched socialization always seems easier; despite our inability to understand any First Cause. Original Sin infects us all.There is certainly something bound in the flesh which drives a breed of dwarfish, ill-socialized, fetish-loving escapists to blindly build and habitate an unoriginal world; and for a further gaggle of the nearly less-talented to consume it ravenously. It seems that, in the spirit of contrariness, when women find themselves thrust by love of horses or exceedingly lax tonsorial concerns into the same arena, that they fight a different fight.Perhaps they approach the incline from a different vantage; arriving not by way of a)Tolkien to b)Conan to c)some unspeakable modern half-wit, but by Malory, McKinley, and Spenser. Of course, one must not forget that the vein of Fantasy still runs, at least in part, through Austen; and that though those alloys be rarer, still inhabit the edges.Bradley has certainly taken a different tack on her way to the summit (never tor) of fantasy. She evokes Spenser, the Idylls, and all manner of other ridiculous romanticics of the Arthurian Mythos. She also endeavors to pull the characters out of the romantic and toward post-modern psychological conflict. On occasion, she even succeeds.There is an undeniable depth to the books, accompanied by a rather pleasing graying at the temples of morality which immediately places her at the opposite pole from her male contemporaries. That those poles are really not so far away somewhat lessens the impact, and one is eventually bound to recognize that there really is a reverse pole to the whole of our concept of fantasy marked somewhere in Peake's Titus trilogy. Actually, that's not true. One could very easily read a fantasy novel a week for life and never have to realize that Bradley is really only a little bit out there; but certainly enough to feel like a breath of the fresher.My Fantasy Book Suggestions

  • Hannah
    2019-03-08 12:06

    Well, there I go again - sniffling and crying through the last 10 pages over a bunch of fictional characters that I feel I know better then some real people. If ever there was a book to make me believe in the power of magic, then Bradley cast her spell over me when she penned this book.What a sap I am, and what a sap I'll be again the next time I read this...:D

  • Jackie
    2019-03-04 10:44

    An excellent Arthurian saga.Written from the point of view of Morgaine, Arthur's half-sister and the villian of traditional Arthur tales.Unique in perspective with strong female characters. It is a story of love; and quite different from any Arthur novel you'll ever read.Marion Zimmer Bradley's best work. She paints a vivid picture, rich with depth of characters and relationships. One of my favorites, I can read this over and over again.

  • Kelly
    2019-03-10 09:53

    I read this book when I was in my mid-teens, and in the midst of an Arthurian obsession phase. These are mythical characters that have been written on so many times and by legendary figures who are almost myths themselves. It's a really hard subject to tackle without derision. I do think she filled a niche in what could otherwise be a very chauvinistic, idealized genre. I haven't read this recently, so I don't know if I would still connect to it as much as I did when I read it all those years ago. It teaches something about never taking a story for granted, and the fact that there's a side even to the purportedly evil people that can be more sympathetic than we realize. It's like "Wicked" in that way, only less cliched. Plus, this one was first!

  • Amber Robertson
    2019-02-22 10:13

    Not that the blurb gives away much of this book and not that I was even remotely interested in it, but a review came up on my feed of someone blacklisting this book. Curious, I clicked the links to work out why. Here is one which I feel is most impactful: summarise though, this author supports her husband who was a known pedophile. The above link shows her daughter saying the author herself molested her (the daughter). So, to all my friends who want to read this or any of the author's other books, I would strongly suggest not to support a monster. If anyone has anyone more information on this or if I am wrong on any counts, please let me know. I am just absolutely horrified by what I have read and felt I should share.

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-03-13 13:04

    This is kind of a feminist version of the Arthurian legend (I say "kind of" for a reason; Nenia's review offers several reasons why it's arguably quasi-feminism at best). It's well-written but I got bored, and it was long-winded, and I simply didn't care about any of the characters. I didn't find any of them particularly likeable or sympathetic. I skimmed most of the second half.

  • Paul
    2019-03-18 06:47

    Wow, this is a truly epic retelling of the Arthurian legends – epic in length at 850 pages, epic in scale at spanning three to four generations, and epic in its ambition to provide a feminist reinterpretation of a decidedly masculine mythology. I wish I could say it was an epic success. Instead, Mists of Avalon meanders too much, treading the same ground again and again, almost as if the plot itself has gotten lost in the mists. Over and over, pagan and Christian characters debate the oneness of God/the Goddess. Over and over, female characters ponder the unfairness of life in a patriarchal society. Bradley rarely shows; instead, she tells. And tells. And tells. She tells in dialogue. She tells in internal monologue. She tells in narration.What keeps the book moving is Bradley's writing style, both formal enough to suit an Arthurian epic, but readable and engaging enough to pull the reader through endless paragraphs of court politics. She develops deep and intriguing characters who change as the years pass. The book seems to be moving to a major resolution of the long-simmering conflict between paganism and Christianity. But the resolution happens almost despite itself. There's no real climax, at least none befitting a book of this length and scope. And finally, there are the questions of religion and sex – issues that come up because of the author, who was an outspoken pagan while also implicated in both her husband's ongoing sexual abuse of children and eventually accused by her own daughter of molestation. Mists of Avalon simply can't avoid these facts. First, Bradley makes no effort to present a fair view of Christianity; even accepting that any work told from the perspective of Morgaine of the Fairies is not going to be pro-Christian and acknowledging that Christian practices in converting pagan tribes were often coercive if not violent, Bradley's portrayal is so lopsided as to be cartoonish. The character of Gwenwhyfar seems created almost entirely to be the whipping boy for pagan tolerance over and against Christian prudery and narrow-mindedness. Regarding the allegations against Bradley, I feel deeply flawed humans can still create great art – even art that transcends the initial offenses of its creators to become a force for good within the world. Unfortunately, that's not the case here. In fact, Bradley's deeply troubling views of sex and consent taint this work, as she glorifies incest, promiscuity and rape as part of an idyllic faith free of Christian ignorance. Certainly, I'm not asking for a book to uphold a conservative Christian view of sex, where all of the characters improbably wait until they are married and never cheat on their spouses. But for a book to be truly feminist in orientation, it seems it should advocate at least a little for the agency of its women, rather than forcing the characters to portray their own subjugation into sexual relationships with family members and older men as somehow liberating. Most disturbing, the one unequivocally negative portrayal of a sexual conquest (view spoiler)[– the rape of Gwenwhyfar – (hide spoiler)] smacks more than a little of "she had it coming." At times, Bradley questions patriarchal notions of sexuality, pointing out (again, telling multiple times, rather than showing) that women who take younger men as partners are vilified as sluts while men who take younger women are glorified for their conquests. But overall, Bradley seems enslaved to patriarchal notions of sexuality more than rising above them.In the end, I appreciate the effort, but even as I write this review, I've talked myself down from three stars to two. It was just OK, and it could have been so much more. I enjoyed aspects of the book, and I never seriously entertained stopping it, but by the end I was seriously disappointed. Maybe even epically.

  • Meirav Rath
    2019-03-11 14:56

    Have you ever found yourself reading a book, knowing you're reading crap, but the writing style and the occasional promising plot twist kept you going?Maybe I was fooled by Hallmark's production, Merlin, and I expected Morgaine to have a backbone to call her own. Zimmer Bradley took whatever hope I had of finding yet another female character to favore and crushed them; Morgaine is obsessed with who everyone marries and who gives birth to who as badly as the simple 'foolish' women she describes contemptly.The constant religious conversations were getting boring by the nine-hundredth time they were run and Zimmer Bradley's constant obsession wit not taking sides or making too many snapping comments of christianity were annoying.Bradley gives no one a truely happy ending nor a revenge to any of the 'bad' characters and so leaves the reader with a sense of bitter dissappointment. Sure, it was nice to read about the very early days of post-Roman england, but for god's sake; I could have picked up a history book and not this waste of time, energy and paper.

  • Magrat Ajostiernos
    2019-02-24 10:13 ha gustado muchísimo y ya nunca veré a personajes como Morgana, Ginebra o Lancelot con los mismos ojos...Me ha fascinado especialmente toda la parte pagana y mágica, tan bien hilada y el ambiente melancólico (incluso a veces deprimente). Es impresionante la manera en la que la autora nos muestra la transformación de la Inglaterra romana/pagana hacia la medieval/cristiana...#Fan

  • Rachael Sherwood
    2019-03-03 15:06

    When I was about a fourth of the way through The Mists of Avalon, I glanced at some reviews on GoodReads and was disheartened to see that the consensus of many reviews was that the book ended on a FEMINISMRULESMENDROOLSCHRISTIANITYSUX message. Thus far I had found the book to be more complex than that, but I could see that ending coming, as MZB is not always the subtlest of writers. However, at the end I happily conclude that seeing such a reductionist message from the text is a failing on the reader, not the author. The Mists of Avalon, for those who are not familiar, is a retelling of the Arthurian saga from the women’s point of view. Most notably, it follows the women of Avalon, traditionally regarded as witches, crones, and villainesses. Morgaine (Morgan Le Fey) is not evil sorcercess intent on destroying the good Christian king, she is a devoted priestess to the Goddess who wants to make sure that her religion is not destroyed by the Christian conversion of the lands. The decline of the pagan religion is symbolized quite literally, through their holy Isle of Avalon. There was a time when any man or woman could find the Island, but as more and more converts abandon the old ways, Avalon fades more into the mists. Morgaine’s foil is Gwynhefar, the passionate young Queen who wants to remake Britain in Christ’s name. Both Morgaine and Gwynhefar are I think what you could fairly describe as religious fanatics, and they both struggle with what they must give up to push their agenda. The Merlin of Britain, leader of the Druids, occupies a middle ground in this religious debate, saying merely that all Gods are one and that it does not matter what form men see them in. In the end, the book’s conclusion lies closest to the Merlin’s, and even Morgaine comes to embrace the Christians and sees her Goddess in the Virgin Mary and Saint Brigid. I think this book is a great starting place for a bigger discussion of the place of feminine spirituality within a patriarchal driven religion. Although the book is largely concerned with matters of religion, it is also a saga of family and love and is filled with fascinating characters. It’s hard for me to say who I’d recommend it to, or not. For me it was a totally immersive and exciting experience, I suspect for others it would drag. I would NOT recommend it for someone looking for an Arthurian story, this is a postfeminist story about spirituality. If that interests you, go for it. ;) I think possibly it’s best audience would be teenage girls; I really enjoyed reading it as an adult, as a teen I think I would have just loved it.

  • Leah Williams
    2019-03-22 15:10

    This is a feminist work. I saw a few one-star reviews (from dudes AND ladies) of this saying that the women were boring or slutty or whatever coded misogyny nonsense, but let me get something off my chest: do not confuse "having strong female characters" with "female badass fetishization" because this book absolutely has the former. The women were strong and they were complex and each one of them had this beautifully woven narrative. Feminine =\= unfeminist. Spinning, weaving, childbirth, motherhood, sex, periods, heartbreaks, first uncomfortable pangs of romance- these are all honest and authentic experiences of these women. The characters navigated their world, insular as it may have been, in a manner accommodating the men who ran it. Behind the scenes and pulling strings, that's what these women were doing. Standing close to the spotlight and never stepping in it. I thought there was a beautiful symmetry in this book- once I got to the end and all the scattered pieces started to come together again (because yo, not gonna lie, this book will wander far and wide from the original starting point), it felt like this bellowing crescendo to me. Hallowed moments of tender mercies and divine revelations finally knit back together and shaped this incredible feminist narrative of women and God. Here's a backstory: I have a "Valar Morghulis" tattoo. I love asoiaf unconditionally and forgive GRRM being unable to write women's anatomy. He writes women like they were men, and I appreciate the complexity this offers women roles. While I was reading Mists of Avalon I thought of Gregory Macguire's Wicked novels and how Elphaba, like Morgaine, eventually wanders into moral grey areas and makes mistakes. Elphaba hardens, she resigns herself to wickedness and coldness and keeps her vulnerability hidden. Addendum to backstory: I'm not religious in the slightest. But now I know what a complex woman in a fantasy setting looks like when written by a woman and I am never going back. Reading female characters who show strength as well as vulnerability? Fortitude and weakness? How refreshing is this, reading women who aren't written as men or earn their girlpower mantle by wielding swords and acting like men? I have never had a particularly favorable attitude towards Christianity and have kept a respectful and silent distance, but the end of this book brought about a new affection for how beautiful Christianity can be. I was deeply moved by this book.

  • Lauren Stoolfire
    2019-02-27 10:54

    What an excellent retelling of Arthurian legend from the women in the classic legends perspective. I don't know why I put this off for so long - it sat on my shelf gathering dust for far too long. This feminist retelling is a must read. I know, it's 876 pages long, but it's worth tackling. I've never seen an Arthurian retelling quite like this one - I particularly enjoyed how The Merlin and The Lady of the Lake are the titles of an office with multiple people fulfilling those roles. Otherwise, it's fascinating to see what Bradley makes of this legendary cast of characters. If only it were easier to keep track of the multitudes of characters, though, since several of them have quite similar names. Plus, I definitely had Merlin and Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the back of my mind the entire time while I was reading this.

  • Phrynne
    2019-03-08 14:08

    I really enjoyed the author's very original take on this famous legend. Having Morgaine as a sympathetic character instead of the usual villain of the piece I thought worked very well. Only four stars from me though because I felt the story faltered many times especially with the constant repetitive bickering between characters about Christianity versus paganism. Obviously this was central to the book but there was just too much. And Gwenhwyfar was just awful. I have never had much sympathy for her when the story is told more traditionally but in this I just wanted to smack her! So overall an enjoyable version of the legend, well told with some great highlights but a little repetitive and consequently too long.

  • rameau
    2019-02-23 09:09

    This review can also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog.I’ve been actively reading and reviewing books for a year and a half now. In that time, my criteria for rating a book on the one to five stars scale has changed a couple of times. A few things still hold true. The book has to be exceptional and leave an indelible impression to get a five star rating from me. Three stars remains my meh-rating. It’s a book that I can objectively call a good one, something I might have even enjoyed reading, but it’s also something I can easily forget and move on.My one star rating however, that’s changed the most. At first it was anything and everything I simply didn’t like. If the offences added up to a certain point I’d give it a one star rating no matter what redeemable qualities I’d find in it. But as I read more and actually started thinking about it, I realised there are books that aren’t even worthy of that single star, books that are, to me, beneath contempt. To compensate, I adjusted my personal rating scale and now one star is reserved to books that induce burning white rage in me. I’ve given good ratings to books with characters I’ve hated when I enjoyed the story, and I’ve given good ratings to books with stories I’ve hated even when I loved a character or two. For me, the style matters little, but dammit, it matters.And I’m not talking about the clunky language that in a way fits the subject and the legend, but takes a while to get used to. Ms. Bradley set out to write a retelling of the Arthurian legend from the female perspective, and in that she succeeded. She managed to put together a logical and a somewhat coherent version of the events that put King Arthur on his throne in Camelot and brought him down from it, and she managed to tell it with female voices. Igraine, Viviane, Morgaine, Gwenhwyfar, Morgause, all these women claw their way from the footnotes of the myth and become three dimensional people—not just characters, but people—with worries and joys of their own. Admittedly those joys were short-lived, but that’s partly why I loved the story. It’s why I love the legend as I do all things heart-rending.However, as wonderfully flawed all these people were with their virtues and their unbridled ambitions, none of them really had a choice in the matter. Ms. Bradley didn’t write people, women or men, who made the best of their unfortunate circumstances. She wrote people thrown about by the fates and whims of their deities. Morgaine’s last defence is that she never had a choice and that she was merely the Goddess’ instrument. And that’s why I hate this book. All the characters, as Ms. Bradley paints them, are passive. None are active. None make choices and then take responsibility for their actions. They’re all thrown into untenable situations where something must break and either give them that what they most wish or take it all away from them. Igraine marries because she doesn’t have a choice. She goes to convent, because she can’t bear to face the sister who forced her hand. Gwenhwyfar also marries, because she doesn’t have a choice. She first surrenders to her lover because she doesn’t have a choice. The only stupid choice she makes is so that the author has an excuse to make the pious lady into an adulteress without making her choose it.Morgaine, the worst offender, chooses nothing. The closest she comes to making up her own mind is when she flees Avalon, but after that she promptly becomes the meekest of them all. She, who should be the fearsome Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of the Goddess, how can she be a vehicle of her Goddess’ will when she does nothing but allows others act around her? Catalyst, you say? This isn’t a chemical reaction where one substance remains unchanged. People change, people make choices that change them and others around them. Unless, of course, you’re a character in The Mists of Avalon.But times were different then and women nothing but chattel, you say? There’s difference in being victimised and being a victim. All Morgaine and the others had to do to win me over, was not to see themselves as victims. All they had to do was to endure what was thrown at them and choose to make the best of it. All they had to do was to choose. Only Morgause and Viviane come close to choosing anything, and how are their choices rewarded? Why of course, they are the great villainesses whose actions lead to a family tragedy after a family tragedy. Their actions bring an end to all those things they love and they don’t live to see the aftermath or acknowledge their responsibility. Telling a story from the female perspective doesn’t make it feminist; writing capable women doing things, being active, and making choices does. This book is something worse; it’s a pretender. There are many things I appreciate in this book, one thing I don’t is how it all was told. That matters. Dammit.

  • Theresa Alan
    2019-03-08 08:48

    This book has been important to me for a long time. It’s billed as a feminist retelling of the King Arthur tale. What’s feminist about it is the radical notion that women should be able to learn to read books and play music, and maybe we shouldn’t focus so much on them being the originators of all sin because of that pesky eating of the apple (or pomegranate, depending on who’s doing the interpretation). The main characters include those that were familiar to me at least in name: Arthur, Lancelot, and Gwenhwyfar (I would have spelled it Guinevere, but what do I know). However, the lead character is the priestess Morgaine, born on the Isle of Avalon, which is hidden from others by the mists referenced in the title. It’s a sweeping story of characters who are mostly trying to do right (although you need some villains, obviously, both male and female). Doing right sometimes means having to let your true love go. It’s also a fictionalized account of how Christianity took over the Pagan religions. So, coincidently, Jesus happened to be born near the winter Solstice (although other accounts say he was born in June or July) and was resurrected near the Spring Equinox. Pagans essentially worship Mother Earth and nature. Imagine if we still respected nature and Earth that much. I read this first after it was given to me as a gift after high school graduation approximately a million years ago. This time around, I listened to it as an audiobook. It’s many hours long, but the narrator’s soothing voice is a lovely way to fall asleep. Thanks to audiobooks, you no longer need to be a little kid to be read a bedtime story!

  • Maurean
    2019-03-23 12:14

    I have heard for years nothing but glowing recommendations for this book, yet I am still amazed by the intensity with which this story touched me. Marion Zimmer Bradley is an incredible storyteller with impressive knowledge of the ancient Goddess based spirituality. The history and mysticism are clearly well-researched, and the writing is lyrical, palpable, and quite beautiful. In this “retelling” of the Arthurian legend- which parallels, too, the Celtic mythology of Finn MacCool & the Fenians, and the Red Branch Heroes of Ulster - from the perspective of the women in the story, it details magically the struggles of Christianity vs. Paganism, where the lines between good and evil are much blurred;All the characters are well-drawn in depths both good and bad, flawed and noble, completely and ultimately human. My favorite passage:“That faith [Christianity] seems too simple to me – the idea that we have only to believe that Christ died for our sins, once and for all. But I know too much of the truth…of the way life works, with life after life in which we, ourselves, and only we, can work out the causes we have set in motion and make amends for the harm we have done. It stands not in the realm of reason that one man, however holy and blessed, could atone for all of the sins of all men, done in all lifetimes.” (pg. 611)This is a story of how the old pagan ways of Avalon are engulfed by the rise of Christianity after the fall of Rome. Portrayed through the story of Camelot, told in the voice of Morgaine, Morgan La Fey, niece of Viviane, Lady of the Lake; queen of Cornwall, sister to the High King, and consort to the King Stag; a refreshing perspective to a well-known tale. This is a masterful interpretation, giving new life to all the old characters: Gwenhwyfar, the pious, Christian Queen to Authur; The handsome Lancelet, most honorable knight and Queen’s Champion; Taliesin, the Great Merlin of Britian, Morgause, Morgaine’s Aunt and foster-mother to Galahad…truly, an engrossing and engaging tale of epic proportions; I cannot find words to praise it enough. This will procure a spot in my “favorite five fiction” reads of all time. If you have not yet treated yourself to this enchanting feat of imagination into this world of Old, I urge you to do so, soon. It is well worth the journey

  • Linda
    2019-03-09 11:59

    This book is one of those that I would consider required reading. Marion Zimmer Bradley's telling of the Arthurian legend from the point of view of Morgaine is so captivating that even twenty years later, I come back to it.It's the story of Britain after Rome has faded but the influence of Rome, particularly through spreading Christianity hasn't. Britain is on the cusp where the spread of Christianity is eclipsing the native, ancient religion. You'll see all the familiar names from the legend, Arthur, Guinevere, etc., but their roles may not be exactly what you expect. In Bradley's tale, Morgaine is a priestess of Avalon who tries to serve the Goddess, the Lady of Avalon, her King and brother and is ill-used in the process. For me the book succeeds because when I read it I got the sense that it could have happened like that (if you're willing to suspend disbelief enough for the magical elements of the story).When I first read this, I couldn't put it down. If you haven't read it, you should remedy that!

  • Gregory
    2019-02-24 14:11

    What can I say about this book? I understand that this is largely considered to be one of the great classics of modern fantasy literature. But personally, I found it to be a tedious, repetitive, grossly innaccurate affair that has little redeeming value. To be fair, I have to applaud Bradley for the sheer audacity of what she attempts to accomplish with this book: it's not an easy job re-conceiving the vast array of Arthurian legends. Perhaps she merely bit off a lot more than she could chew. But nevertheless, this book wound up being one of the great disappointments of my reading career.The entire point of Bradley's book seems to be not really to tell a story, but to push a neo-feminist, neo-pagan point of view. Her arguments, that Christianity ruined egalitarian earth-loving Celtic cultures and shackled women under a male-dominated cultural power supported by the Church, are repetitive and monotonous. Her book becomes far more concerned with repeating this argument over and over again, and the plot suffers greatly. Even if you do agree with some of her points (which I do), you find yourself becoming quite aggravated by her tiresome diatribes well before the book is half finished. Any basic writing instructor will tell you that when setting out to write a story, don't try to make a point. If your writing is good enough, it will make that point clear for you, while leaving your reader to determine their own conclusions. Obviously, Bradley never got this piece of advice or simply chose to ignore it.The other grave fault of the books is that Bradley's perspective is based on a lot of New Age, Neo-pagan pseudo-history than any real research. Either she didn't know any better, or just as likely, she chose to ignore historical fact. Now I can allow for a healthy amount of artistic interpretation to history, especially when you take into account the Arthurian period, which is itself layered in so much myth and speculation. But Bradley goes beyond the acceptable levels of "stretching the facts," and instead weaves such blatant misrepresentations that it makes one cringe. For one, Celtic cultures were hardly the peaceful, egalitarian, feminist examples that Bradley portrays them to be. Their religious organization was male-dominated, and they engaged in human sacrifice and even ritual rape. In her attempts to color Christianity black she entirely overlooks the contributions the Church made in bringing peace to war-torn Britain. And, perhaps her most horrendous and unforgiveable sin, is in her portrayal of St. Patrick, who becomes Arthur's bishop in the later half of the book. Not only did Patrick never become a bishop in Britain (or hold any real post there whatsoever), but Bradley again overlooks the fact that while in Ireland on his mission of conversion, Patrick actually allowed for female bishops and priests and created perhaps one of the most egalitarian versions of the Catholic Church.These points aisde, what about her actual portrayal of the Arthurian legends? Bradley's characters are mostly one-dimensional, alas. There is very little narrative structure, and most of the "action" of the novel occurs within the characters. As mentioned, she seems a lot more interested in making her socio-philosophical point than in telling a real story. The great events of the Arthurian tales are mostly glossed over, though she does have some interesting and intriguing re-interpretations of some of the episode. Unfortunately, these are few, and the end of the book is especially anti-climactic. Arthur's tragic death and the dissolution of the dream of Camelot is merely a footnote.The final verdict? Read this book if, like me, you are very interested in the Arthurian cycles and their re-interpretations throughout history. This is one of those works that, while painful to plod through, should at least be attempted in order to gain a better understanding of the modern impact of Arthur and his exploits. However, beyond that cultural context, this book hardly stands out. If you are looking for a unique, intriguing, and multidimensional treatment of the Arthurian legends, then I recommend you seek out T.H. White's The Once and Future King.

  • Ova Incekaraoglu
    2019-03-20 14:50

    This is the book that made me fall in love with the fantasy genre, I think. For most people it might be Lord of the Rings, however I find Avalon books much more intriguing and easier to read- I don't mean that they are poorly written or cheap, it's the opposite actually. I read this book as a teenagerand still feel the sadness in this book. This is somehow the story of how Christianity ate Paganism, but not only that, there is much more to it. Don't be disheartened by the size of the book, it hooks from the start and flows really nicely. Would definitely recommend to fantasy readers!

  • Caitlin
    2019-02-24 13:01

    So basically, this author supports her paedophile husband and has previously molested her own daughter. Sorry, but that's not someone I'm willing to support and I'd strongly recommend doing the same. More info in Amber's review and in this article on it.