First Lines: The Mists of Avalon

Marian Bradley Zimmer’s The Mists of Avalon re-imagines the legendary tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Only, it doesn’t focus on Arthur and his knights. No, in this version, it’s the womenfolk who play the lead.

While in most versions of the Arthurian lore women like Gwenhwyfar, Morgaine/Morgan le Fey and the Lady of the Lake play minimal roles, here they are fully fleshed out. Morgaine isn’t the evil witch she is usually made out to be, no, she’s the king’s half-sister, trying to do right to her ancient pagan religion in a world that moves towards Christianity with it’s slave god of the dead. Gwenhwyfar is a christian pious enough to be the pope. She has a major influence on Arthur, who has vowed to be high king of all Britons regardless what god or goddess they follow. All the gods are one, after all.

Spanning a few decades, The Mists of Avalon covers the machinations of Avalon to get the right person on the throne, the rise and fall of Arthur and his knights, and how Avalon eventually fades into the mist and out of this world. I liked it quite a lot. Not enough to delve into the pre- and sequels, but still a lot.

Book read
Marion Zimmer Bradley — The Mists of Avalon
First Line
Morgaine speaks… In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen.