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The Mists of Avalon

The Mists of Avalon

4.5 513
by Marion Zimmer Bradley

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A Literary Guild Featured Alternate
Here is the magical legend of King Arthur, vividly retold through the eyes and lives of the women who wielded power from behind the throne. A spellbinding novel, an extraordinary literary achievement, THE MISTS OF AVALON will stay with you for a long time to come....


A Literary Guild Featured Alternate
Here is the magical legend of King Arthur, vividly retold through the eyes and lives of the women who wielded power from behind the throne. A spellbinding novel, an extraordinary literary achievement, THE MISTS OF AVALON will stay with you for a long time to come....

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
Marion Zimmer Bradley has brilliantly and innovatively turned the myth inside out. . . . add[ing] a whole new dimension to our mythic history.
New York Times Book Review
[A] monumental reimagining of the Arthurian legends . . . Reading it is a deeply moving and at times uncanny experience. . . . An impressive achievement.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Gripping . . . Superbly realized . . . A worthy addition to almost a thousand years of Arthurian tradition.

Product Details

Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Morgaine speaks:

        In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen.  Now in truth I have come to be wise-woman, and a time may come when these things may need to be known.  But in sober truth, I think it is the Christians who will tell the last tale.  Forever the world of Fairy drifts further from the world in which the Christ holds away.  I have no quarrel with the Christ, only with his priests, who call the Great Goddess a demon and deny that she ever held power in this world.  At best, they say that her power was of Satan.  Or else they clothe her in the blue robe of the lady of Nazareth- who indeed had power in her way, too- and say that she was ever a virgin.  But what can a virgin know of the sorrows and travail of mankind?
And now, when the world has changed, and Arthur- my brother, my lover, king who was and king who shall be- lies dead (the common folk say sleeping) in the Holy Isle of Avalon, the tale should be told as it was before the priests of the White Christ came to cover it all with their saints and legends.

        For, as I say, the world itself has changed.  There was a time when a traveller, if he had the will and knew only a few of the secrets, could send his barge out into the Summer Sea and arrive not at Glastonbury of the monks, but at the Holy Isle of Avalon; for at that time the gates between the worlds drifted within the mists, and were open, on to another, as the traveller thought andwilled.  For this is the great secret, which was known to all educated men in our day: that by what men think, we create the world around us, daily new.

        And now the priests, thinking that this infringes upon the power of their God, who created the world once and for all to be unchanging, have closed those doors (which were never doors, except in the minds of men), and the pathway leads only to the priest's Isle, which they have safe guarded with the sound of their church bells, driving away all thoughts of another world lying in the darkness.  Indeed, they say that world, if it indeed exists, is the property of Satan, and the doorway to Hell, if not Hell itself.

        I do not know what their God may or may not have created.  In spite of the tales that are told, I never knew much about their priests and never wore the black of one of their slave-nuns.  If those at Arthur's court at Camelot chose to think me so when I came there (since I always wore the dark robes of the Great Mother in her guise as wise-woman), I did not undeceive them.  And indeed, towards the end of Arthur's reign it would have been dangerous to do so, and I bowed my head to expediency as my great mistress would never have done: Viviane, Lady of the Lake, once Arthur's greatest friend, save for myself, and then his darkest enemy- again, save for myself.

        But the strife is over; I could greet Arthur at last, when he lay dying, not as my enemy and the enemy of my Goddess, but only as my brother, and as a dying man in need of a Mother's aid, where all men come at last.  Even the priests know this, with their ever-virgin Mary in her blue robe; for she too becomes the World Mother in the hour of death.

        And so Arthur lay at last with his head in my lap, seeing in my neither sister nor lover nor foe, but only wise-woman, priestess, Lady of the Lake; and so rested upon the breast of the Great Mother from whom he came to birth and to whom at last, as all men, he must go.  And perhaps, as I guided the barge which bore him away, not this time to the Isle of the Priests, but to the true Holy Isle in the dark world behind our own, that Island of Avalon where, now, few but I could go, he repented the enmity that had come between us.

As I tell this tale I will speak at times of things which befell when I was too young to understand them, or of things which befell when I was not by; and my hearer will draw away, perhaps, and say: This is her magic.  But I have always held the gift of the Sight, and of looking within the minds of men and women; and of all this time 1have been close to all of them.  And so, at times, all that they thought was known to me in one way or another.  And so I will tell this tale.  
For one day the priests too will tell it, as it was known to them.  Perhaps between the two, some glimmering of truth may be seen.

        For this is the thing the priests do not know, with their One God and One Truth: that there is no such thing as a true tale.  Truth had many faces and the truth is like the old road to Avalon; it depends on your own will, and your own thoughts, whither the road will take you, and whether, at the end, you arrive in the Holy Isle of Eternity or among the priests with their bells and their death and their Satan and Hell and damnation . . . but perhaps I am unjust even to them.  Even the Lady of the Lake, who hated a priest's robe as she would have hated a poisonous viper, and with good cause too, chid me once for speaking evil of their God.

        "For all the Gods are one God," she said to me then, as she had said many times before, and as I have said to my own novices many times, and as every priestess who comes after me will say again, "and all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and there is only one Initiator.  And to every man his own truth, and the God within."

        And so, perhaps, the truth winds somewhere between the road to Glastonbury, Isle of the Priests, and the road to Avalon, lost forever in the mists of the Summer Sea.

        But this is my truth; I who am Morgaine tell you these things, Morgaine who was in later days called Morgan Le Fay.

What People are Saying About This

Mary Renault
A most original interpretation of the matter of Britian by way of Celtic religion and the Great Mother...a remarkable feat of imagination.
Jean Auel
I loved the book so much I went out and bought it for a friend, and have told many people about it. Why did no one ever think before to tell the story of King Arthur from the perspective of the women!
Madeleine L'Engle
The Mists of Avalon is a beautiful book. The characters are alive, multi-dimensional; I really care about them.

Meet the Author

Marion Zimmer Bradley began her distinguished book publishing career in 1961 with her first novel, The Door Through Space. The following year she wrote the first book in her hugely popular Darkover series, Sword of Aldones, which soon became a Hugo Award nominee. Bradley's novel The Forbidden Tower was also nominated for a Hugo, and The Heritage of Hastur was nominated for an esteemed Nebula Award.

The Mists of Avalon was the single most successful novel of Bradley's career. It won the 1984 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and has been among the top five trade paperback books on Locus's bestseller list for years.

Ms. Bradley died in 1999.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
June 30, 1930
Date of Death:
September 25, 1999
Place of Birth:
Albany, New York
Place of Death:
Berkeley, California
B.A., Hardin-Simmons College, 1964; additional study at University of California, Berkeley, 1965-1967

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The Mists of Avalon (Avalon Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 513 reviews.
Anthrogrl More than 1 year ago
Marion Zimmer Bradley gives a refreshing and poignant retelling of the King Arthur legend...from Morgaine's perspective. Traditionally portrayed as an evil seductress, Bradley has Morgaine as the narrator of the story, and offers insight into the characters' motivations, feelings and reasons for their actions. Each character ultimately affects the final outcome of King Arthur's rule. What I enjoyed most about this novel was how the author places Arthur in a more historical setting (c. late 6th century A.D.). Bradley's portrayals of Morgaine, Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin bring a more human aspect to these famous persons. Bradley also does an amazing job of discussing the religious and political conflicts during Arthur's reign, specifically between the followers of the Goddess and the emerging Chrisitian religion. If you enjoy romance, historical fiction, epic stories, or just a good read, Bradley's 'The Mists of Avalon' won't disappoint you.
venysnizel More than 1 year ago
I was 14 when I plucked a dusty copy of The Mists of Avalon off a shelf in my grandfather's basement. My life was never the same. I had always loved myths and legends, and was fond of the King Arthur tales I read as a little girl. But it was this book that revealed to me my true path in life. I fell completely in love with Morgen Le Fay and was captivated by the perspective it took on Arthurian lore. This book truly showed me my true course in life, and I am now preparing to begin my PhD in Medieval Studies. I used this book heavily in my master's thesis, and was surprised to find that although I was reading it for the 3rd time, it still incited great feelings of emotion in me, feelings of anguish, passion, repulsion, and love. You truly fall in love and connect with Bradley's characters, who seem to come to life before you. She is a brilliant author and this book is an eye-opener and a feast for the senses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the BEST book I read this year!!! It touched every emotion. It was historical, magical, mystical and absolutely wonderful. A must read. Many thanks to the author, Mary Zimmer Bradley.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book and I can't get it out of my head, I have never read a book as good as this one and I keep trying to find one as good. Zimmer Knows how to get the feelings of everyone in the book into your heart and the detail is amazing. If you have not read this book it is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this a few years ago when a friend recomended it to me. I hadn't read any fantasy novels but I love historical fiction and mythology so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's one of the best stories I've read. That said, I come from a very religious family so I should say that Christians should avoid this book It's is a very anti-christian book and has some sexual content.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read this book as part of my English class in college. However, it became so much more than just a class project to me. A lot of people found the novel too long--or not to their Christian taste--but it captivated me like no other novel before it. The story of Morgaine and the dying paganism is heart-wrenching and beautiful. I've thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I'm a guy too. This goes to show that despite the book's very feminine tone, it can still be enjoyed by men. I'm so glad I bought this ebook version. Now I can carry the book with me always and it won't be so heavy and bulky.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a very in depth story that draws you in, and keeps you reading it until the end. A must read especially if you are pagan. It will make you cheer, cry, and laugh along with the chacters through their triumphs and failures. She had rewritten the Legends and given them new shade and color, telling the story through the women involved.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read without a shadow of a doubt. It gives so much more perspective and outlook on (all) religion regardless of what you are. It is realistically set and beautifully told. I read this day and night-to the point where I barely slept. It is best read when you read the Avalon trilogy in chronological order, though. It sets a whole new light on early Britain around 450-500 A. D. This is one of the classics, and will always be a book on my shelf no matter how long I live.
JawsII More than 1 year ago
I read this book in the 8th grade. It was the longest novel I had ever taken on and I couldn't put it down. I am way older now, and to this day, this is the number one book on my list to recommend to anyone. I absolutely loved it then and still do now! Wonderful storytelling! I love the classic tale of King Arthur, and I love the telling of the story from a women's POV!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gave up after 300 pages. I kept telling myself, "It has to get better." No, it doesn't. From the author's Forward, the religion of pre-Roman Britain was scrupulously researched with interviews with self-styled current practitioners. Great, but deer blood smeared on nipples is not erotic. It's revolting and barbaric. There are loads of this kind of drivel. Then there are endless pages whining about how the character needs to fulfill the desires of the Mother Goddess. Boring! Yes, we all know the basic Arthurian tune, but there are far better riffs out there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this version for a friend.........I still have my original that I've read at least 6 times by now. The well researched book offers a whole different realm of possibilities for that time of our history.
Harper Wilamoski More than 1 year ago
To the person who asked about the downloads, i had no problem with it. It didn't seem to take up more space than any other book, either. Go for it! Great book, everyone should read it.
BookWitch More than 1 year ago
I love all of the Avalon books by Bradley, but none of them seemed to touch the rare beauty that's found within these pages. The women are strong, beautiful, and individual. One of my favorite books of all time.
JenniferJamesB More than 1 year ago
I've read The Mists of Avalon a number of times since being introduced to it for a college literature class. It is deeply engrossing and wonderful enough to warrant subsequent reads. It is likely that you'll be glad you chose to invest time in this book and its characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing! When reading it, you get this feeling that for the first time you are hearing the true story behind the legend of Camelot. In the book, the Lady of the Lake is able to part the mists between Avalon and our world. This book does the same thing to the reader, IT IS the Lady of the Lake, able to take you beyond the Mysts into the hidden realms of Avalon...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The intersection of history, mythology, religion, politics, love and betrayal. Fantastic read.
Brooke Cookson More than 1 year ago
Lil slow to start.. but amazing worth buying. Something i actually wouldnt mind reading again either
Anton More than 1 year ago
I think this book would be interesting to many King Arthur's investigators :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Empowered women are fine, but this book celebrates them at the expense of one of the most compelling myths around. The blend of myth and magic is destroyed by the political correctness of this yarn, which has all the power brokers of the Arthurian world as women. What a dissappointment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a 20 year old college student who adores this book beyond all others. The first time I read it(4 years ago) I almost hated it because of its religious tension. Fortunately, I kept reading and finally figured out the Christianity/Druid relationship. The book's extreme views on religion made me realize how fanatical people are even today. On a less serious note, this book is amazing. This story is so beautifully written and has so much intimate information on each of the characters that it is impossible to read other King Arthur stories without feeling dissappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever! This book got me hooked on the Avalon series and Marion Zimmer Bradley is my all time fave author. I first read this book 10 years ago it never gets old to me. I usually read it once a year.
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I never get tired of this story, hearing it told from the female perspective makes it even more magical.