The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

   No Arthurian library can be complete without a copy of Bradley's "Mists". Perhaps no single book has influenced the latest generation of Arthurian fans as hers did. I can remember reading each new book of the Darkover series and the hidden excitement when the announcement was released that Bradley was working on a story of Arthur.
   I reread "Mists" as a preparation for reading her new work "Lady of Avalon". Even after all the elapsed time, the story still seemed fresh and the characters vibrant. Bradley's story is still one of the best of the retellings of Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur". It does have that fantasy, almost science fiction, overlay of a great working of magic sending a realm into the mists - a multi-dimensional world in which Avalon exists in the same space as Glastonbury Tor but in another plane which is slowly drifting further from our own.
   "Mists" is also the first of a new generation of books that told the Arthurian legend through the eyes and words of secondary characters - in this case, the women. Her characters are fully developed, each introduced and layered with emotions, visual imagery, and motives. On a minor notes, sometimes too well. There were times when I felt I had too much detail of their inner feelings, sliding down that slippery slope of the balance between understanding a character through his or her thoughts and trying to grasp them through their actions. Earlier works developed the plot but were stingy in their characters, whereas, Bradley dealt with both with a strong emphasis on character.
   Having moved on from the time of its introduction and added depth to my own knowledge, I find the plot conception based as it is on Malory with an enhanced triple Goddess storyline not up to the new genre of pseudo- realistic historical novels on Arthur; but still a must-read. Her Morgaine and Gwenwyfar gave me new insights into the characters and I remember clearly that when I read her story it was the first time that I pitied and felt distaste for Arthur's sullied barren wife. There is a strong undercurrent of the struggle between the worship of the Goddess and the new religion of the Christ which has raised repeated discussion and bashing by those not following the story (remember that I stated that her characters are rich and realistic, showing all the strengths and faults we all have). God will always make herself known.
   As the death of Arthur did not involve the main characters of Bradley's story, the entire section of the Malorian theme of Arthur's death and voyage to Avalon is glossed over in a few pages giving the feeling that Bradley rushed to finish the story, even though a careful reading does not present quite the same sparcity of ending plot. And it was the first story I remember where Arthur died without the promise of the future king.

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Del Rey, July 1987, ISBN: 0345350499 Paperback

Mists of Avalon TNT Movie