Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Every Day in May: 11


from The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley


"Morgaine was not tall; she would never be that, and in these years in Avalon she had grown as tall as she would ever be, a scant inch taller than the Lady. Her dark hair was plaited down the back of the neck and wrapped with a deerskin thong; she wore the dark-dyed dress and deerskin over tunic of any priestess, and the blue crescent shone darkly between her brows.... Already she appeared ageless, and she would, Viviane knew, look much the same even when white appeared in her dark hair."

“How do you write of the making of a priestess? What is not obvious is secret. Those who have walked that road will know, and those who have not will never know though I should write down all the forbidden things.”

" 'Are you the lady Morgaine that they call Morgaine of the Fairies?'
   Morgaine said, 'I am.... Because I am of the old royal line of Avalon, and fostered there.' "


The Mists of Avalon is a retelling of the Arthurian legend told through the voices of the women in his life. If your only experience with the King Arthur story is that Morgan le Fay was an evil sorceress, go pick up this book. Yes, Morgaine does all of the things she does in the legends, but in this retelling there is so much more to it than that. At a very young age she's brought to Avalon to study to become a priestess and serve the Goddess, as her entire family does. Their goal is to see that their religion reigns on the British isles, and this Christianity thing doesn't take over. Guinevere ("Gwenhwyfar" in the book) just as fiercely believes that all of Britain must unite under Christ. But the two aren't enemies. There's no inherently good or bad side. Instead we get an intimate look from both sides of the lives and struggles of the women closest to Arthur.

About Morgaine herself: like many others on this list, she is a proud and determined woman. But she's written in such a human way that you can't help but cheer her on and commiserate. Especially when you already know how the story must go... and you shake your head because you know that all the plotting and scheming in the world is only going to bring everyone misery. She does a lot of underhanded things, but she does them believing in her heart that it's the only way to bring about her goals for the good of everyone.

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