- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Ace (June 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451456521
- ISBN-13: 978-0451456526
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 127 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lady of Avalon (Avalon, Book 3) Paperback – June 1, 1998
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Praise for Lady of Avalon
“Romance, rich historical detail, magical dazzlements, and grand adventure. The novel Marion Zimmer Bradley’s fans have been yearning for.”—Publishers Weekly
“A treat for the savvy initiate, and intriguing for Arthurian buffs.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Interweav[es] history and myth in a near-seamless tapestry.”—Green Man Review
“Bradley’s women are, as usual, strong and vibrant, but never before has she so effectively depicted the heroic male…an immensely popular saga.”—Booklist
“No prior familiarity with Bradley’s Avalon titles will be required in order to enjoy this ongoing saga…Fine characters mark a moving story.”—Midwest Book Review
“A nice blend of historical and mystical elements and Bradley’s interpretation of the Priestesses and their role in Britain’s power struggles is quite interesting.”—Future Fiction
About the Author
Marion Zimmer Bradley was the New York Times bestselling science fiction and fantasy author of the Avalon series, the Darkover series, and more. In addition to her novels, Mrs. Bradley edited many magazines, amateur and professional, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine. She died in 1999 and was posthumously awarded the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000.
Top customer reviews
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Although the mythology and history are rich, the material is squandered in these nearly plotless, barely connected stories. While Avalon tries to preserve the degenerated wisdom that remained when Atlantis sank into the ocean, the world is being torn apart by the oppression and instability of empire and waves of barbarian invasions. Caillean, Gawen, and the daughter of the fairy queen, Sianna, save Avalon, then their successors extend its influence outward to manipulate kings, princes, and military leaders. In spite of the sacrifices and losses, Britannia seems no better off; Rome clings to it, and the barbarians keep coming. There are important victories, but they seem contrived when the goddess is called on to frighten off the Saxons, and they do little more than provide a break in the onslaught. The plots are so minimal and the useless details so many that it's not clear to what extent Britannia's rebelliousness and vulnerability contributed to Rome's decline and fall.
The goddess religion of Avalon is murky at best. Unlike in The Mists of Avalon and The Forest House, the magic here is unquestionably real; the visions are not drug-induced hallucinations, and priestesses invoke the goddess to deter the enemy. The "ancient wisdom" seems to be centered on the power of the earth (focused along leys), the seasons, and reincarnated souls like Gawen, Sianna, Dierna, and Carausius. Practice of the religion is as ordered and artificial as the rule of Rome, with strict rules and elaborate rituals that owe more to the human predilection for control than to the concept of nature and the earth. Even the most natural of emotions and acts, love and non-ritual sex, are forbidden. Young men and women are drawn to Avalon, but their passion is poorly articulated, especially when they cannot know the mysteries revealed during training and initiation. There is nothing special about the character or intelligence of the many of the Druids and priestesses called to Avalon; why are they singled out to preserve the ancient wisdom and mysteries?
While the plots and the secondary characters are weak, the real problem is that so many of the primary characters are selfish and unlikable. Gawen, the "Pendragon" and "Son of a Hundred Kings," from beginning to end is unremarkable, displaying predictable rebelliousness and nobility at the expected moments. He is so susceptible to suggestion that "the priest's words had tainted the Druid ways as well." Dramatically and childishly, he exclaims, "You both want to possess me, but my soul is my own! . . . I am leaving to seek my kin of Rome!" His soul mate, Sianna, has no more personality than Waterwalker, whose role is to pole the Avalon barge. High priestess Dierna does not seek the obvious path, proving the fairy queen's point: "But I do not know what the purpose is, exactly, and if I did, I would not be allowed to speak of it; for it is often in working for or in avoiding a prophecy that people do the very things they should not." We are told that Teleri, who is weak, pliant, and passive, is destined to become high priestess of Avalon; why would the goddess, the Druids, and the priestesses choose someone so unsuitable for such a position? At her worst, high priestess Ana is egotistical and petty, especially with regard to her daughter, Viviane. Is it Ana or the goddess who says, "I would gain nothing. I already have everything."? For reasons that are never explained, the enigmatic fairy queen insists that her daughter become a priestess of Avalon, and it is her line whose members impose their will on events rather than that of the goddess, proving their human side stronger than their role as conductor of magic. Of all the major characters, only Caillean, Taliesin, and perhaps Carausius are likable, revealing both human weaknesses and a greater wisdom. Although it is strongly hinted that Carausius is a reincarnation of Gawen's soul, they are different enough that it raises the question of what these souls are and why only certain ones return again and again, while others are "once born." The whims of the god and goddess, as channeled through these souls and through the Druids and priestesses, appear to be as illogical as those of any human.
Without a solid plot driven by strong, sympathetic characters, Lady of Avalon lacks the touches of historical and magical drama that made The Forest House at least interesting. Although the novel reveals some of the reasons for the decline of Avalon and the goddess religion, Lady of Avalon adds little essential to The Mists of Avalon.
The first section is called "The Wisewoman" and takes place from 96AD to 118AD. This is mostly Caillean's story as left off in "The Forest House" including the rest of the life of Eilan's son, Gawen. This story also reveals how and why Avalon came to have it's infamous "mists" and different time tract.
The second section is called "The High Priestess" and takes place from 285AD to 293AD. This is mostly Dierna's story picking up from the story line started in the book "Priestess of Avalon." I would personally recommend reading "Priestess of Avalon" between reading the first and second parts of this book, if one wishes to read the stories in chronological order.
Part 3 is called "Daughter of Avalon" and takes place from 440AD to 452AD. This is mostly Vivianne's story, which directly leads in to "The Mists of Avalon." Although I thoroughly enjoyed the story that was presented, I was wanting even more. I felt it ended a little too early with a larger gap in time from the end of this to the start of "The Mists" than I would prefer. This story is VERY insightful to the character of Vivianne, and gives much more understanding of her actions carried out in "The Mists of Avalon." As with all the stories in the series, it was very spiritual. The desription of what Vivianne felt and thought as she went to part the mists for the first time was moving.
The books preceeding this one in the series are: "The Fall of Atlantis," "Ancestors of Avalon," and "The Forest House."
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