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Showing 1-10 of 394 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,380 reviews
on January 29, 2017
I have read this novel a couple of times now and each time it is more rich. It is very long, but there aren't any parts that ever feel like filler, to me. It is an interesting reexamination of a classic branch of mythology, and a from a different point of view. The novel is from the perspectives of the female cast members: Morgaine, Gwenhyfar, Igraine, and Viviane, called the lady of the lake as the leader of the priestesses of the Goddess on the island of Avalon. As such, there is a strong dialogue about the role of women in the time in which the drama unfolds, and an interesting comparison to some earlier civilizations whose primary deities were female. These elements: the role of women in society, particularly in relation to the position of prevailing religious beliefs, and gender roles loom larger than the development of the core story with which most people are familiar. For some, this may be a detriment but I find it is the true merit of the novel and makes the fundamental material on which it is based more interesting.
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on April 27, 2016
Wow. This is the first of Bradley's works I've read. I came upon it mentioned by Prof Dorsey Armstrong in her Great Courses "King Arthur" course, which I also recommend. It is a massive book (I read the Kindle issue), likely comparable to the full Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Imagine if Saruman the White had been the major character in LoTR, complete with loves, beliefs, mistakes and triumphs. Morgan le Fay is that character in The Mists of Avalon, though a redeemed and lovable heroine at the book's end.
MANY, many liberties are taken with the more or less traditional "The Once and Future King" story, but because so much of what we understand about King Arthur is embellished over 15 centuries of poetic license, I suppose the author must be forgiven; and it's a dang fine tale she tells. You better learn to put it down or else skip work or school for a week and keep the espresso coming.
There are two things I liked phenomenally about this book. First is the interplay of the incoming Christian faith (I'm a reborn Catholic) and the Celtic or Druidic faith that it was slowly replacing. I'm uneducated about the realities of Celtic or Druidic beliefs, so I can't address the likelihood of the author's presentation. Ms. le Fay is of the old beliefs and a priestess of Avalon. A nicely believable story weaves the impregnation of Mordred to le Fay by her half-brother, Arthur. It was part of an old-believers ritual for king-making, and neither Morgan nor Arthur knew what was up until it was over. The views of le Fay about the incoming Christianity develop beautifully during the book. At first the warts, superstitions, and darkness of Christianity are all she sees. It makes me want to find a history of religion for the 1st thru 6th century in Britain. Repeated about 30 times in the book is "all Gods are one". (Check out my article, "The Lord is One" at, which I wrote years before reading this book.)
The contrast I took away from Bradley's portrayal of the 2 belief systems was that while Avalon adhered to a "natural law" (such that natural sexual attraction and its follow-thru was not a sin, nor a lot of other things), vows to the Goddess and faithfulness to that world view were things that MUST not be broken, and there was no forgiveness. The late 5th century Christianity painted a whole bunch of things as sinful, but forgiveness was always available. Reminds me of a dating a girl taught by nuns at Catholic high school ... real life. Avalon had hardly any concept of grace and personal improvement was only earned, likely thru successive improved lives one might live. Justification by faith seemed to them non-sensical because it appeared to easy.
The other thing I liked most about the book is its ability to place me in the geography of the time. I've never been to the UK, and certainly have little idea of things like Glastonbury or Tintagel. Digging a little into other sources of the history of the area shows that the author could not have been very far off at all.
I see she's written a bunch of other Avalon books. I'll give at least one more a shot, but not right away. As in the case Orson Scott Card, you can only ride the same horse so long before it's become skin and bones.
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on October 27, 2015
I’ve always been a sucker for King Arthur. In between my Robin Hood phases as a kid, I went through reams of stories about Camelot. And in college, I happily hiked around the ruins of Tintagel in Cornwall (supposedly the place of Arthur’s birth). But Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon was something new for me: the King Arthur legend from the perspectives of important women in his life, namely Igraine, his mother; Viviane, his eldest aunt; Morgause, his youngest aunt; Gwenhwyfar (a.k.a. Guinevere), his wife; and Morgaine (a.k.a. Morgana), his half-sister.

Morgaine is the main protagonist. And unlike in most retellings, she’s not an evil sorceress. Instead, she’s an initiate of Avalon, a mythical island that’s home to a sect of Goddess worshippers trying to stave off Christianity’s growing influence over Britain. Bradley includes the familiar love triangle between Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, and Lancelet (a.k.a. Lancelot), but the contest of religions is the core struggle in The Mists of Avalon. Viviane, Lady of Avalon when the story begins, places Arthur on the throne so that he may serve his Christian and non-Christian subjects alike. But Gwenhwyfar convinces him to become ever more Christian, and Viviane and Morgaine consider this conversion a betrayal of the oaths he swore to win the crown. In the years that follow, Avalon sets itself against Camelot and grows intolerant in kind.

Not everyone is as narrow-minded about religion, however. Morgause has little use for gods or goddesses, while the druidic Merlins (plural, in this version) believe all deities are one. Such a diversity of viewpoints is also present in how Bradley portrays the different spheres of influence available to women in her historical fantasy of early Britain. In Avalon, Morgaine and Viviane lead a matriarchal society. In the North, Morgause defies convention and rules as a queen who takes lovers as she wills. But in the South, Igraine and Gwenhwyfar (mostly) accept their priests’ advisements that they should be content to stay in their castles and make children and clothing for their husbands.

The overall story is more philosophical than I’m used to for a tale of King Arthur. It’s also slower; The Mists of Avalon spans generations and glosses over the usual knightly contests and heroic deeds. But if you want a Camelot that makes you think, Bradley’s seminal work is worth a read.
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on April 7, 2017
I continued to read much further than I would normally do with a book that didn't capture me. I won't say the entire book was bad, and there were parts that were actually interesting, I'm just very disappointed. I've wanted to read this for years.

First off, the time line is rather difficult to follow. It jumps ahead so quickly and frequently that it becomes nearly impossible to keep track. The hatred and vitriol that rolls off of Gwenhwyfar (don't get me started on some of the name spellings). Judging Morgaine and finding ways in which to blame everyone but herself for the bad things she does. Really all the women are whiny little children that are stomping their feet because they don't get their way. Stabbing one another in the back almost ceaselessly.

I made it about halfway through the fourth "book" before I just finally couldn't take it anymore. And that was with a break to read another book.
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on February 13, 2016
Complicated characters with so much depth it was overwhelming to keep up. This is meant for women. We get little to no POV from males. It is all about the female characters from Arthurian tales such as gwenifere, morgane, ingrid, vivian, ect. This is my favorite version of Arthur because it is so deep. Every female has her own POV moments throughout the book so you are getting like 7 stories that intertwine constantly. There is sibling incest that just blew my mind but in the end made total sense. It took me a while to finish this because it is a very llong book. But not at all dissapointed.
We read about gwenivere having trouble conceiving so we learn about women who can nto have children. We read about Vivian who carries weight on her shoulders to be the ultimate leader. We hear about Ingrid getting married before she was ready and finding herself in an affair before her husband died. There is lust, friends with benefits, guilt, cougars, and more.
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on November 3, 2015
I just reread The mists of Avalon. Even though it is not that old it is a classic. I would consider it historical fiction, as are all of Bradley's Avalon series. Mystical imaginings are set in a historic context. In Mists most of the characters are from the King Arthur legends set in the Britain being taken over by Christianity. The once persecuted become the persecutors. It is not for the squeamish. There are intrigue and murder a plenty. The characters are very complex and even when they do evil it is hard to blame them completely after the tortured lives they lived. There are not many stories told from a woman's point of view. This has many women as antagonist and protagonist. The women in this epic tale do not apologize for being strong, smart, powerful. It is wonderful and somewhat heartbreaking to know what turmoil follows this story. I have read many of the prequels and all are good but none as epic.
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on May 15, 2017
I am a voracious book reader. Almost to the point of obsession. I have thousands, in all different genres and formats. This book is in my top 5 all time favorite books ever, which says a lot!! Do yourself a favor though and get a hardcover copy, it add to the experience. :-D

For my review, I won't get into the actual story line or historic facts VS. mythology and fiction (many reviewers have already gone that route). I want to express my overall impressions of this book, because the feelings this book evoked caused 10+ rereads!

The writing in this book is incredible. It sucks you right into the time period and character's minds. You really feel you're there with them experiencing everything. There is historical accuracy mixed in with fiction, little elements like clothing and food that are woven throughout the story in a way that's not tedious to read, but adds to the feel of the book. It's like stepping into a time machine. The interpersonal relationships are masterful and you really become part of the story. When you think of King Arthur myths, this is the type of story you envision. One that makes you question your beliefs about magic, mystery, and humanity -- that in my mind is perfect historical fiction. The author poured her heart and soul into this book, and it shows on every single page.

Bottom line, it's not a book ... it's an experience.
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on July 30, 2016
I have been reading this book since middle school (15 years where has the time gone?!). One of my absolute favorite tales of King Arthur and Bradley did great research to pull her novel together. The kindle version is well edited and easy to cruise through, the spacing between paragraphs can be perplexing and at the beginning of every chapter it's italicized like its Morgaine speaking but it's not, it's just a weird intro thing I guess. Bradley draws you in by giving every character depth (you can tell she's not a fan of Gwenyfar) and really winding story lines together to make this beautiful tapestry of a book. I really recommend for anyone who likes to see different views of Arthurian Legend!
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on November 18, 2015
One of my absolutely favorite novels and one of the few I have read multiple times. I've puchased over a dozen copies of this book over the years as I continually replace ones that I have given to friends on recommendations. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get into any of the prequels... they just didn't capture me the way this one has.
Fans of historical fiction, fantasy, medieval literature, religion, mysticism, and metaphysics will all have some tasty morsels to chew on with this one.
It is one of those novels that completely transports you to another time and place.
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on August 30, 2016
I really got into this just like many others have. Unlike anything else I've read. Kind of like writing a book about Henry VIII's wives from where they stood. Lots of material here about lots of characters. You could spend all winter reading this.
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