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The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Reviewed by Emily

The Mists of Avalon is a re-telling of Arthurian legend told from the perspective of the Arthurian women. The main narrator is Morgaine, more commonly known as Morgan Le Fey, and the story spans her entire lifetime. Through her and other narrators including her mother Ivaine, Gwenhwyfar (aka Guinevere), Morgause, and Vivaine, we learn the story of the rise and fall of Camelot, and of the individual lives and choices that shaped an era.

You may remember Morgan Le Fay from the original myth as being an evil sorceress and Arthur’s enemy. In fact, the original myth has very clear good and bad guys. This book is much more morally ambiguous, with rich characters that are neither good nor bad, but simply human. Morgaine is not an evil sorceress, but she is a priestess and a pagan, as is the Merlin, who is head of the druids. The Mists of Avalon is above all else the story of the shift from the druidic pagan religion that worshiped the Goddess and embraced plurality to the early Christian church that worshiped one God and sought to convert other people to their religion. As the Goodreads description says, “Christianity vs. Faery, and God vs. Goddess are dominant themes.” In the end of the book the main character comes to terms with Christianity, but throughout much of the book there is a strong hostility towards the kind of Christians that were present at the time. This means that the main characters are openly scornful of the sin-and-damnation kind of Medieval Christianity that had no tolerance for other religions, was built on guilt, and taught that women were by nature sinful. If you are easily offended by a positive depiction of paganism, sexual freedom, or people who don’t like those aspects of Christianity mentioned above , then I suggest you don’t read this book.

Read the original article at: Reading While Female

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