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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon (original 1982; edition 2008)

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
13,471259264 (4.09)2 / 611
Title:The Mists of Avalon
Authors:Marion Zimmer Bradley
Info:Penguin Books (2008), Paperback, 1024 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1982)

  1. 134
    Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (cataylor)
  2. 102
    The King Must Die by Mary Renault (krasiviye.slova)
    krasiviye.slova: Similar decline and fall of the matriarchy theme, with different spins.
  3. 50
    Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Very similar subject on mythology, Celts, Druids, and Matriarchy.
  4. 30
    Confessions of a Pagan Nun: A Novel by Kate Horsley (fyrefly98)
  5. 41
    Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (alchymyst)
  6. 20
    The Song of Albion Collection: The Paradise War, The Silver Hand, and The Endless Knot by Stephen Lawhead (charlie68)
    charlie68: Also a fun blend of early British myths.
  7. 20
    The Language of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas (CurrerBell)
  8. 20
    Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (legxleg)
    legxleg: I am pairing these two books together because both have a thread of female-centric religion struggling to survive.
  9. 21
    Queen of Camelot by Nancy Mckenzie (lannabrooke13, trillianiris)
    lannabrooke13: I personally thought Mckenzie's version was much more realistic and engaging!
    trillianiris: My favorite retelling of Arthurian legend. Period.
  10. 10
    Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (ktoonen)
    ktoonen: Similar writing style, with strong feminist themes in epic fantasy.
  11. 10
    Hild by Nicola Griffith (kiwiflowa)
  12. 10
    The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley (AniIma)
    AniIma: Fantastic, mythical, Arthurian Legend. Wonderful and skillfull storytelling by the author, Marion Zimmer Bradley.
  13. 11
    The Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw (cataylor)
  14. 00
    Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch (charlie68)
    charlie68: Another fun group of myths.
  15. 00
    Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw (MissBrangwen)
  16. 00
    Votan and Other Novels (Fantasy Masterworks) by John James (LamontCranston)
  17. 00
    The White Mare (Dalriada, Book 1) by Jules Watson (al.vick)
  18. 01
    The Circle Cast by Alex Epstein (Bitter_Grace)
  19. 01
    Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (charlie68)
    charlie68: Also a tale of knights.
  20. 12
    The Black Chalice by Marie Jakober (lquilter)
    lquilter: Like Bradley's Mists of Avalon, Marie Jakober's The Black Chalice has similar patriarchy-superseding-matriarchal-magic themes, but with Germanic mythology. Beautifully written.

(see all 20 recommendations)


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English (241)  Dutch (9)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (258)
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
(46) I read 'The Once and Future King' a long time ago and re-read again as an adult. I have never read the epic Morte d'Arthur. So anyway - I come to this novel with a less than perfect knowledge of Arthurian legend and thus I am not sure how to judge this re-telling from the women's point of view. We have the story narrated by Arthur's mother, his sister, the legendary Morgan Le Fay - or in this book simply, Morgaine; also we hear from Gwenivere, and Arthur's Aunt Morgause. It is a looong book - 800+ large small font pages. But indeed, it is somewhat magical. One of the main themes is woman's depiction and role in modern religion versus an ancient idea of "Mother" Earth. The idea that powerful women are Goddesses vs sorceresses. Indeed, this conflict still resonates today as women try to break 'glass ceilings.' How many of us have been called - a 'bitch."

I am not sure a plot synopsis is really needed. But, this is the story of King Arthur - his birth, rise and fall: Told from the point of view of the women who frankly guided his actions and reactions. We are treated to the legendary Avalon - home of the Druids and priestesses of the cult of the Goddess. "Pagans" that were allowed to practice their own religion alongside Christianity in the best of times. We see how Arthur became king a la the Sword in the Stone. Lancelot and his love of Guinevere - its all in here. We also hear of the formation of Camelot and where the "Round Table" came from. Sir Pellinore's mythical dragon is here, as is the quest for the Holy Grail. And finally - the betrayal of Arthur by his son Mordred. (although Mordred is not a giant spider in this book ?? - where did I get that image from)

It is intricately woven and very readable, albeit occasionally tedious and repetitive. I am not necessarily compelled to read more Arthurian legend having finished, but I am definitely glad I read. I am fascinated by the Dark Ages post fall of the Roman Empire. For a lover of the Uhtred books and Sharon Kaye Penman's novels; honestly even for 'Game of Throne' fans - this is a must read. ( )
  jhowell | Sep 30, 2018 |
I have conflicted feels about this. I like that it is a re-imagining of Arthurian mythology. I like the world it sets up. It also drags like crazy and all of the characters are...difficult to love even though you pity them. And its author is "problematic" ( )
  jeninmotion | Sep 24, 2018 |
Unfinished. The premise is extremely intriguing to me, but I eventually found the continuous "Christianity sucks" theme to be tiresome. ( )
  Jeeps | Jul 26, 2018 |
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. ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
WARNING: Persons concerned with the ethics of authors may wish to do some research before reading this. I found out a thing after I finished it. I'm still processing that. It is, however, worth noting that the publisher of her digital backlist donates all incomes from her e-books to a charity that fights for the rights of children.

I absolutely loved the concept—Arthurian legend told from a feminine and pagan perspective. I appreciate the authenticity in beliefs and behaviors to the time period. However it dragged a bit at times. When it was good, it moved well, but when it wasn't, it felt a bit like slogging.

And then the ending ...

I love a tragic ending. The sort of finish where everything is wretched for everyone, and the author squeezes all the hope you ever had out of you. And it was so heading that direction! I was so excited. Until the epilogue. Just had to leave it on a hopeful note, didn't ya? *smh* I recognize how subjective that is, but I really love a dark AF ending, and I felt robbed. My disappointment was so much worse than it would have been if it hadn't seemed so hopeless right up to the end. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Jul 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
In ''The Mists of Avalon,'' Marion Zimmer Bradley's monumental reimagining of the Arthurian legends, the story begins differently, in the slow stages of female desire and of moral, even mythic, choice. Stepping into this world through the Avalon mists, we see the saga from an entirely untraditional perspective: not Arthur's, not Lancelot's, not Merlin's. We see the creation of Camelot from the vantage point of its principal women - Viviane, Gwynyfar, Morgaine and Igraine. This, the untold Arthurian story, is no less tragic, but it has gained a mythic coherence; reading it is a deeply moving and at times uncanny experience.

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marion Zimmer Bradleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bralds, BraldtCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herranen, PaulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ohl, ManfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sartorius, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"...Morgan le Fay was not married, but put to school in a nunnery, where she became a great mistress of magic."
— Malory, Morte d'Arthur
First words
Morgaine speaks...In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen.
a land ruled by priests is a land filled with tyrants on Earth and in Heaven
the faith of Christ is a fitting faith for slaves who think themselves sinners and humble
What of the King Stag, when the young stag is grown?
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The French edition is divided into 2 volumes.
The Brazilian and Spanish editions are divided into 4 volumes.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345350499, Paperback)

Even readers who don't normally enjoy Arthurian legends will love this version, a retelling from the point of view of the women behind the throne. Morgaine (more commonly known as Morgan Le Fay) and Gwenhwyfar (a Welsh spelling of Guinevere) struggle for power, using Arthur as a way to score points and promote their respective worldviews. The Mists of Avalon's Camelot politics and intrigue take place at a time when Christianity is taking over the island-nation of Britain; Christianity vs. Faery, and God vs. Goddess are dominant themes.

Young and old alike will enjoy this magical Arthurian reinvention by science fiction and fantasy veteran Marion Zimmer Bradley. --Bonnie Bouman

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:33 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When Morgan le Fay (Morgaine) has to sacrifice her virginity during fertility rites, the man who impregnates her is her younger brother Arthur, whom she turns against when she thinks he has betrayed the old religion of Avalon.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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