The Mists of Avalon, which has taken over my brain over the last few weeks, joins The Craft on my list of Stuff I Should Have Really Experienced When I Was Fifteen But Am Quite Glad I Didn’t As Would Probably Be Even More Of A Hippy.
I’ve read a few Arthurian myth re-tellings before, my favourites being TH White’s Once and Future King, which my dad read to me as a youngun, and Bernard Cornwell’s Winter King trilogy, which I still re-read every few years as they are a damn good series of books.
I’ve, rather surprisingly, never read a version that I can remember written from the point of view of the women, Morgan le Fay, Guinevere, Nimue, Igraine and others. This book, although primarily written from the POV of Morgaine, looks into the lives of all the main women of Arthur’s court and beyond, especially in regards to their reaction to the changing religion of Britain, from the matriarchal Goddess cult centred on the Island of Avalon and the patriarchal Christianity sweeping the land.
I enjoyed this book immensely, though by the end it had turned into something of a slog and I more than likely won’t be reading the rest of the series, especially if they are all also 1000 pages +. Parts were very gripping and beautifully written and the characters real, what I enjoyed the most was how ridiculous all the in-fighting over who worships who was, with the various Wise Merlins pointing out that actually everything is symbolic and a measure of controlling the people. It was a little patronising to the women’s faith, but telling non-the-less .
I am kind of gutted it took me so long to read-which I guarantee if I HAD been fifteen when I read it it wouldn’t have-I’d have been gripped all the way through and become obsessed with the Goddess and Maiden Mother and Crone and all that. As it was, I was reading Jean Auel and Forever Amber and becoming obsessed with history and anthropology. It’s almost as if my mother (who MUST have heard of this series) was deliberately skewering my reading choices to draw me away from the etherial and towards the more academic…. hmmmmm….
Anyway, good book, if overlong.