The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The magic surrounding Avalon enchants all, but like time and men, it passes into the dark mists and becomes a blurry memory. Here is an encompassing tale about the adventures and upheavals of Camelot's court through the eyes and lives of the women behind the throne. Based on the Arthurian legend most loved by all, we follow the story of the characters, as told by Morgaine, from their childhoods through the fulfillment of their destinies and their search for spirituality.
The present king of Great Britain is dying and the kingdom is wrought with struggles, from the heirs vying for the throne and the invading Saxons to the spreading of the new religion. In the distant shore is the Isle of Avalon, the lair of the old magic of the Goddess, where the Merlin of Britain and the Lady of the Lake wield power. It was said that a child born from the blood of the Goddess and of the land will unite the old world and the new. But some things aren't always set in stone and even now Avalon is fading farther into the mists...
In the beginning I was enamored by the book cover (of a fairy priestess atop a horse), the nostalgic melancholy of the prologue and the fact that it was about the Arthurian legend that I've always been fascinated of but the epic proportions of the book might be daunting to some. The portrayal of the familiar characters didn't really follow the original saga but it has its own unique perspective and the bulk of that relies on its figures of strong, albeit rock stubborn, women; their sacrifices and pain to keep forever what they hold dear.
There's a coat of sadness breathing on its pages. It's not without surprises and unrelieved angst of why fates sway this way or that way. It is only a matter of succumbing to each of the character's beliefs and you can't help yourself rooting for a few of them even if you feel a foreboding on their fortunes. Marion Zimmer Bradley took to exploring elements and concepts that are quite debatable to some but it is done with good research. Others may claim it is a feminist take on the old legend (but don't really expect too much on this). There are times that I find myself frustrated, still on a fence on how things pan out, but what exactly am I talking about? This is not my story but theirs. One must step back and look at things in a certain light especially with the spiritual and religious contexts (which I am not sure if some would agree). And if you look closely, you find them as much as human as we are in our present world.
In the end, it is about the magic in the world, war and peace, power and beliefs, destiny and salvation; a good fantasy book that lingers in your mind as if Morgaine's voice still echoes out of the sky. Even more, I found myself secretly wishing I have a blue crescent moon painted on my forehead.
Title: "The Mists of Avalon"
Author: Marion Zimmer Bradley
Genre: Mythology, Fantasy, Historical
Published: 1984 Paperback
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ (4 cups: There's a certain melancholic beauty on its narratives (and I love anything Arthurian) but the lengthy pace might just get to you. If you aren't intimated of its eight hundred or so pages, loves Arthurian legend, Old England magic and exploration of spirituality, turn the page and start imagining Morgaine upon a gliding boat where it all begins.)