The Mists of Avalon

Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Mists of Avalon Cover

The Mists of Avalon


It was with great joy and much rejoicing that I finished Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon. Ms. Bradley had a hard row to hoe with me on any Arthurian legend. I have never been a fan of Arthurian legend, since I first read "The Death of Arthur" in high school. In my opinion, Sir Thomas Malory hated women, as they are nothing but evil, conniving, shallow creatures in his story. As a young woman and budding feminist, the story completely turned me off from any story of Arthur or the Knights of the Round Table.

So I wanted to like "Mists". Ms. Bradley went out of her way to make women the focus of the story, and not only as the villainous foil for the heroic knights from Malory's story. And that was one of my problems with her plotline; there was none of the epic battles of good and evil, but only lots and lots of selfish and self-centered people repeatedly bumping into each other. Yes, Morgaine was not the evil sorceress of Arthurian legend, but only an ineffectual leader of a dying religion. Genevieve was not the evil temptress of Arthurs court, but was a mentally ill young woman ill equipped for the duties required of a queen, Mordred was not the devilish spawn of Morgaine's villainous plot, but merely a neglected child abandoned by both his parents in infancy, and manipulated into fighting a battle that was lost before he became wise enough to say "No". I know Ms. Bradley was attempting to show that none of the characters were "evil" but only led by "The Goddess", or fate into roles that were preordained. This brings me to another issue I had with the novel.

I was clobbered over and over by the multitude of themes running rampant through this almost 900 page novel. Ms. Bradley blasts the reader with theme after theme over and over again throughout the book. One would have to be blind and completely dumb to not see the same themes repeated over and over throughout the book. I prefer a more subtle approach to the introduction of theme into a story. I don't need to be beat with a thematical stick to understand that the author is trying to make a point. See what I mean, it gets tedious after a while.

Between the obviously repeated themes and never ending description that went on and on and on, I must say I found this book very difficult to finish, and only really started to care for the book when Arthur was finally killed because it meant I was almost done with the book. The Mists of Avalon may be a modern classic, but it will not be finding its way into this reader's library.