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Priestess of Avalon (Avalon, Book 4) Hardcover – May 7, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (May 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670910236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670910236
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,079,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Mists of Avalon (1982), a feminist goddess-oriented retelling of the legend of Arthur, won acclaim and a crowd of lifelong fans for Bradley, also author of the Darkover series. Now, after Bradley's death in 1999, this prequel coauthored by skilled fantasy writer and friend Diana L. Paxson (Hallowed Isle) completes her story of the women of mystical Avalon and their attempts to influence a world caught in the grip of unavoidable change. In A.D. 296, young British princess Helena goes to the Isle of Avalon to learn the path of the goddess. Helena grows in spirit and wisdom, awaiting the day when her initiation prophecy will become real and she'll meet the man of her dreams. He turns out to be Flavius Constantius Chlorus, fated to become the Roman emperor. Her aunt, High Priestess Ganeda, aims to wed a more biddable girl to the Roman power structure, but when Constantius chooses Helena, Ganeda exiles her from Avalon. Helena gives birth to Constantius's son, Constantine, and counsels her lover through the intrigues of a vast and dangerously unbalanced empire. Separated by civil demands from her family, Helena seeks the answers her troubled soul demands during a pilgrimage through the Holy Lands. The message that all religions call on the same higher power should go over well with fans of Mists. Paxson's own skill at bringing historical characters and places to vivid life enriches Helena's story. This final book in the Bradley canon is sure to please her devotees and win her more. (May 7)Forecast: This title will get an extra boost from The Mists of Avalon miniseries starring Anjelica Huston, Joan Allen and Juliana Margulies, due soon to run on TNT.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Though destined to achieve distinction as the pious mother of Constantine, the young woman once called Eilen or Helena first served as a priestess of the old deities on her native island of Briton. Returning to the alternate version of Arthurian legend created in her best-selling Mists of Avalon, Bradley creates a powerful tale of magic and faith that enlarges upon pagan and Christian traditions to express a deeper truth. Though Bradley died before she finished the novel, veteran fantasy author Paxson brings to completion this last work of a master of the genre. For most fantasy collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By S Martin on June 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title of the book is a bit misleading, Elian, or Helena as she's know for most of the book, isn't just a priestess of Avalon sent out into the world to do the work of the goddess. In fact, the book deals mostly with her life outside of Avalon, first as the wife/concubine of Constantius, and later as the mother/empress of Constantine.
The book is carried out in the same style as the other Avalon books, although I can detect a bit of Paxton's writing as well. All in all, it's not a bad book, if you take it from the view that it doesn't center around Avalon, but on a priestess who makes a life for herself after losing the blessing of Avalon. If you're looking for another novel about Avalon, King Arthur, or the Forest House, you're out of luck. In fact, the book fits into the time line around the time of the high priestess Dierna and Teleri's marriage to a man not of Avalon in Lady of Avalon.
I wouldn't recommend this book to people who aren't familiar with at least Mists of Avalon, unless they have plans to read it. It's not the same type of book as Mists, it's more like The Forest House, which struck me as a totally different kind of book than mists, a historical romance instead of a retelling of a legend. All in all though it's not a bad book, and if you've read the other three books, you should probably read this one as well.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Toni Kamsler on July 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I glanced at a few of the reviews here before buying this book, and had low expectations. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed it as much as I did.
Contrary to previous comments, I thought this book provided fans of the series with some fascinating scenes regarding the making of a priestess, and Eilan's training. And latter two-thirds of the book, although not taking place in Avalon and focusing on Eilan's life in the Roman Empire, still addressed the Goddess and pagan religions and the spread of Christianity, which gave a wonderful historical perspective.
As a life-long fan of "The Mists of Avalon" and a non-Christian, I found the domination of Christianity depicted in this book to be oppressive, as did other reviewers. But it is historical, after all, and I would rather explore how such a thing came to pass and better understand it, in any case.
Let's face it, MZB fans: nothing in this series was ever going to be as great, as magical, as special as "Mists". It's a once-in-a-lifetime book, and it touched a lot of our lives. I though "The Forest House" was disappointing, and "Lady of Avalon" less so, but the comparison to "Mists" is what doomed both of them, for me at least. This book, "Priestess of Avalon", was from such a different perspective that I was less inclined to compare it to the progenitor of this series, and therefore I enjoyed it more, on the whole. Give it a chance, if you haven't read it yet, and just go in with an open mind.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Monarch on July 18, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Priestess of Avalon is a rich story of color, flavor, and texture. The details given make it so I felt that I had seen and heard as the main character did. The story is told in first person--a change from the rest of the books in The Mists series--that I find effective, and somewhat more insightful. I could almost feel myself age with her, as she was a girl in the beginning, growing through her life, then as mother, and finally as crone.

The placement of this book is rather tricky in "The Mists of Avalon" series. I tried very much to figure out whether I should be reading this book before "Lady of Avalon", after, or before "The Forest House." I found that it actually falls in between the first and second sections of "Lady of Avalon." The whole series starts with "The Fall of Atlantis," then continued in "Ancestors of Avalon," a break of time then, but the following novel is "The Forest House" which is immediately followed by the first part of "Lady of Avalon." The story in "Priestess of Avalon" starts the story that is continued in the second part of "Lady of Avalon" which actually follows Dierna's story once she becomes a priestess. I hope that helps others figure out the order if they are trying for a chronology as I was.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Saldarriaga on May 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
From the best-selling author that brought you The Mists of Avalon, comes another timeless, realistic Roman tale called The Priestess of Avalon, the story of a sacred priestess that leaves behind her religious life to follow a life of love, wisdom, and power. Marion Zimmer Bradley brings to life a world of Roman history, pagan wars, and religious controversy in this soon-to-be-classic.
The spectacular style in which the story is written sends the reader into the body of a young girl. Each chapter is headed with a span of five years ranging anywhere from 259 and 329 A.D. as this epic saga continues. We see the story through Helena's eyes and become one with her and her many complex emotions. We are drawn to this personal point of view because it again gives us the feeling of familiarity and intimacy with the characters as our own sentiments are fused with Helena's.
The dialect isn't very modern but it isn't written in Elizabethan dialect either. It is very simple to understand, except for the slight difficulty a reader may have with the Roman names. Besides that, the words are very common and the dialect is comfortably proper. A helpful tool Bradley provides is a glossary containing all of the names and places in the story and their correct pronunciation. There is also a map at the beginning of the book to tell you how far Helena's travels range.
The situations are quite normal for the belligerent Roman period but very entertaining for the historical yet fantasy-craving mind. Chapters about battles and wars are not uncommon in this text and neither are family disputes and love affairs. The situations are based on real Roman battles, history, and gods so the book could be named some type of historical fiction.
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