Date of Publication: 1998
Number of Pages: 456
Synopsis (from back cover): Journey to a time before King Arthur as Marion Zimmer Bradley brings the mesmerizing world of Avalon brilliantly to life in this spellbinding novel of epic grandeur – the story of three remarkable women who alter the fortunes of Roman Britain as they fight to reclaim the magic and traditions of a once-glorious past….
Caillean, the young priestess fated to become Lady of Avalon, who rescues and raises the orphaned Gawen – heir to a mystic and dangerous royal line…Dierna, who must use all her strength, wisdom, and love to guide Avalon through treacherous political waters and veil the island from a hostile world…Viviane, Lady of the Lake and keeper of the Grail, destined for true greatness as she prepares Avalon for the coming of a legendary king…
Review: This is the first book of the Avalon series that I have read, and I’m glad I started with it. Although there are events referred to that obviously occur in other books, it’s not done in a way that takes away from the story. This is the book that sets up the events in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s popular masterpiece, The Mists of Avalon, so I felt fortunate to be beginning here.
This is the first book I have thoroughly enjoyed in a long time, and it’s turned me into a devoted fan of this author. There are elements of several genres in this book: historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, making it appealing to many different kinds of readers. But what will really appeal to people is the superb story-telling and the realistic and complex characters. There are few characters, even among the leading Ladies of Avalon, who could be called wholly good or bad. Some make good decisions and some make such bad decisions that they adversely alter the course of history. The women portrayed are completely believable, with human foibles that all of us have, but at the same time they possess a power that infuses the story with magic. This is a book that celebrates womanhood in all its forms, from the innocent virgin to the croaking hag. If you’re a woman, you will find yourself somewhere in this book. And if you’re a man, well, there’s plenty of fighting going on to keep even you interested!