Thursday, July 31, 2014

Books We've Missed: Arthurian Legend….

Time for another edition of Books We've Missed! This month it's Kristin's turn.

For “Books we've missed” one of the books chosen for me was Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Mary chose this for me. Her reasons for my needing to read it are:
  • Classic fantasy book
  • Arthurian Legend
  • One of her favorites
You may ask: “Why did you miss this nearly 900 page behemoth with large pages, tiny type, and narrow margins?” Well, my curious friend, it was because it was just too short for me. I really prefer a book I can sink my teeth into. People really don’t spend enough time developing characters and plot like they used to.

Sarcasm aside, here’s my quick synopsis of what’s going on in Mists. This book is about the women surrounding Arthur, the legendary King of Camelot, with a hard look at Morgan Le Fey, called Morgaine throughout the novel. Morgaine becomes a priestess of the Isle of Avalon, serving the Goddess and striving to maintain the religion and traditions of the old ways, while Christianity and a patriarchal society bulldoze the female-centered religion of old. We also hear a lot from Igraine who is Morgaine and Arthur’s mother, Morgause who is their Aunt, and Gwenhwyfar, Arthur’s wife. Instead of focusing on the males in the legend, this is about the females who shaped events and the lives of Arthurian legends. It is about the great things that happened, along with the trivial issues of a woman during this time period.

At first I was very excited about this book. Arthurian legend interests me and I thought delving into a deeper look at the characters and happenings would be fun. Then it just kept going and going, so I stopped after reading the first part. The book really takes its time developing the characters and I just stopped caring. The story of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table is so rich and adventurous. However, this was not a book about the knights; it’s about the women. What an amazing idea, one might think! These were women who were very influential in the tales, and to see how they helped or hindered progress during this period should be fascinating. Instead of fascination, I found boredom. All the magic was taken out from the stories because they just became ordinary political happenings. There are certainly intriguing parts about the matriarchal old religion and how Christianity weakened the woman’s position in society. I usually find the everyday happenings of people in different eras enlightening, but damn it 900 pages is far too much! The thing is, the boys were still doing the cool stuff!
So in the end, I get why some really love this book. If you are patient, unlike me, it is a very rich, layered story about a legendary subject matter. For me, it was too much. I need to feel like I’m getting somewhere and this book made me feel like I was slogging through drying cement.

~Kristin M.

Don't forget to tell us which books you've missed!

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