Synopses & Reviews
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....
About 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.
From the Hardcover edition.
Reading Group Guide
1. Reading Group Questions and Topics for Discussion
The Mists of Avalon revolves around a number of dualities: male/ female, Christianity/druidism, duty/desire. How are these duali-
ties represented in the book? Can you think of others that were
2. How does the book strive to challenge common stereotypes? How does it reinforce them?
3. Is Gwenhwyfar a sympathetic character? In your opinion, does Marion Zimmer Bradley treat physical beauty in a positive, negative, or neutral manner? Explain.
4. How responsible is Arthur for allowing the spread of Christianity and ultimate disappearance of Avalon? Was he simply being an honorable husband to Gwenhwyfar? Did you find the Arthur, Lancelet, Gwenhwyfar tryst disturbing? Although Arthur was an indisputably potent leader, can he, in the end, be deemed an effective one?
5. It seemed in several instances that Morgaine disappeared when
she was most needed. Was she ultimately successful in represent-
ing the Goddess? Would you say that she was a victim to her fate or that she ultimately rose to meet it? What parallels can you draw between Morgaines life and Igraines? Between Morgaine and Viviane?
6. The Merlin seems to play an ambiguous role in the story. Do you agree with this statement? In your opinion, was he motivated more by his faith, or by pride and ambition?
7. Throughout history, did the spread of Christianity really lead to a diminishing of tolerance? Does the Goddess have a place in todays world? Do you think that Christianity ever held woman as the principal of evil?
8. What symbolism, if any, would you apply to the dragon slain by Lancelet? What is the symbolism behind Excalibur? The Grail? The Holy Thorn?
9. At the end of Mists, did you feel that the Goddess had truly been absorbed into Christianity?
10. How has Mists changed your perception or understanding of the Arthurian legend? How has it changed your perception of womens roles in the making (and telling) of history?