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The Mists of Avalon (1982)

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Avalon, Published Order (1), Avalon, Chronological Order (7)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,235285300 (4.07)2 / 674
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.
  1. 112
    The King Must Die by Mary Renault (krasiviye.slova)
    krasiviye.slova: Similar decline and fall of the matriarchy theme, with different spins.
  2. 134
    Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (cataylor)
  3. 70
    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. 30
    The Language of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas (CurrerBell)
  6. 41
    Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (alchymyst)
  7. 20
    The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley (AniIma)
    AniIma: Fantastic, mythical, Arthurian Legend. Wonderful and skillfull storytelling by the author, Marion Zimmer Bradley.
  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. 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.
  10. 31
    Queen of Camelot by Nancy Mckenzie (lannabrooke13, wordcauldron)
    lannabrooke13: I personally thought Mckenzie's version was much more realistic and engaging!
    wordcauldron: My favorite retelling of Arthurian legend. Period.
  11. 10
    Hild by Nicola Griffith (kiwiflowa)
  12. 11
    Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch (charlie68)
    charlie68: Another fun group of myths.
  13. 11
    Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (ktoonen)
    ktoonen: Similar writing style, with strong feminist themes in epic fantasy.
  14. 00
    Votan and Other Novels by John James (LamontCranston)
  15. 00
    The Circle of Ceridwen (Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy, #1) by Octavia Randolph (al.vick)
  16. 00
    The White Mare by Jules Watson (al.vick)
  17. 00
    Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw (MissBrangwen)
  18. 11
    The Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw (cataylor)
  19. 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.
  20. 01
    The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan Le Fay by Alex Epstein (Bitter_Grace)

(see all 21 recommendations)

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English (267)  Dutch (9)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (284)
Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
Lines like the following near the end of the book would not resonate if they had not been paid for each step of the way.

'Morgaine,' he whispered. His eyes were bewildered and full of pain. 'Morgaine, was it all for nothing then, what we did, and all that we tried to do? Why did we fail?'

King Arthur in his final moments is bewildered, the bewilderment of the beast at the moment of slaughter. He thought he was beloved by the world only to watch as his kingdom crumbled and his life blood ebbed, all as if fated.

Bradley is able to tell this whole sweeping tale of Arthur's reign and to capture the pity of it not just for Arthur, but for any of us who live long enough to see and understand and love things that have been built over time crumble into ruin and dust. Arthur asks his question for all of us.It is hard not to share his bewilderment and loss in one's very being.

Bradley has helped me re-see the tale of Arthur and Camelot as an ur-tale for what humans attempt to build in this world and the great arc of all these attempts in which the seeds of destruction and oblivion that are sewn in the moments of creation. Humans are fated to sow, to reap, and to destroy, to destroy even those things most beautiful things. For while there are creators, there are also those who destroy because they must or because they have lost all sense of what is good and worth preserving, those who walk into the sweep of history when things are as good as they might be who only have destruction to offer.

In her epilogue, Bradley allows Morgaine to attempt to answer Arthur's question, and I find it hard to believe that Bradley herself could believe that it would be satisfying or convincing. Morgaine says, 'You held this land in peace for many years, so the Saxons did not destroy it. You held back the darkness for a whole generation, until they were civilized men, with learning, and music, and faith in God, who will fight to save something of the beauty of the times that are past."

For me, this is too much to be hoped for. Had Morgaine said only: "You held back the darkness for a whole generation," this might seem a fitting answer, an answer, that is, fit to what is within the realm of possibility for any generation. For any generation, a holding action against the darkness might well be the best that can be hoped for and achieved. And that has to be enough because that is all there is. ( )
  tsgood | May 22, 2022 |
This is a big read. The story of the time of King Arthur, as told from the point of view of the women of the time. It's a familiar tale, but told with more depth and dimension than I'd experienced in any earlier telling.

There are cycles in the book in which I want to strangle pretty much every single character, but they are far and few between. If you're interested in Arthurian legends, druids, pagans, post-Roman Christianity, and/or long form fiction, I recommend this book. ( )
  dcrampton | Apr 20, 2022 |
You'd have to like this to stay with it through 50+ hours. I was surprised how captivated I became. This has been on my list for years, but it never made it to the top. It is so long that I made it my New Year's Resolution. I'm glad I did. Davina Porter is a fabulous narrator. She really brought the story to life. Very interesting and challenging in some ways. ( )
  njcur | Mar 25, 2022 |
This novel is much like the two settings it describes, the mythical/historical world of Camelot, and the mystical world of Avalon. The well known characters play out their roles more or less as you remember them from other writers, but the focus on the female characters and their experiences of these times led me into a seldom traveled land. I have read many of Ursula K. Leguin’s works, as well as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but The Mists of Avalon is a far more complete and complex exploration of the heart of the Goddess. I thought that the lack of battles and combat and action would make the story slow, but at just the right times lightning strikes. Start reading this work and let Zimmer enchant you. ( )
  drardavis | Dec 20, 2021 |
One of the most well written novels probably of the 20th century. But once you learn a little about the author it immediately puts you on the fence and your morals kick in. I tried so hard to just enjoy the story and forget about her and husbands actions...…..but It was impossible. It just got in the way of the story. ( )
  Joe73 | Oct 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 267 (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
Richardson, NatashaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sartorius, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"...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
Dedication
First words
Morgaine speaks...In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen.
Quotations
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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Disambiguation notice
The French edition is divided into 2 volumes.
The Brazilian and Spanish editions are divided into 4 volumes.
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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.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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