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Priestess of Avalon [Paperback]

Marion Zimmer Bradley , Diana L. Paxson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 July 2011

Long-awaited final volume in the Avalon series by bestselling fantasy author, Marion Zimmer Bradley.

As the Merlin of Britannia keeps his vigil atop the Tor of Avalon, Rian, the High Priestess of Avalon, dies giving birth to her fifth child. The girl, named Eilan with her mother’s dying breath, takes life. From the stars the Merlin draws forth her prophecy: ‘The child that was born at the Turning of Autumn, just as the night gave way to dawn, shall stand at the turning of the Age, the gateway between two worlds.’ A prophecy of greatness, but it seems that she is destined to walk a path unlike any trod by a Priestess of Avalon before…

Published posthumously, this spellbinding historical romance is the concluding volume in the Avalon series from Marion Zimmer Bradley, the author of the worldwide bestseller, The Mists of Avalon, who died in 1999.

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Priestess of Avalon + Lady of Avalon + The Forests of Avalon
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; New Ed edition (4 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006483763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006483762
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 340,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The last in the sequence of Avalon fantasies, Priestess of Avalon was completed after Bradley's death by Diana L. Paxson, her long-standing friend and collaborator. It's told from the viewpoint of Eilan, later known as Helena, born in 249AD to a priestess of Avalon, who dies in childbirth. She is sent to her Roman father, but returns to Avalon at age 10 to be initiated into the mysteries of the Goddess. When she falls in love with Constantius, a Roman, she leaves the sacred isle to become his consort, and bears a son who becomes Constantine the Great. Helena is a historical figure, but little is known of her life, and so the authors had considerable freedom in constructing this autobiography, linking her with the ancient wisdom of Avalon. During her long life, she travels the Roman Empire from Eburacum (York) to Rome, Greece and even Palestine. Her menfolk keep her away from the incessant wars, but her womanly life of hearth and home involves many important incidents, and as Christianity spreads across the Empire she struggles with the meaning of her own power as a servant of the Goddess. There are occasionally too many Roman names and too many political manoeuvrings to keep track of easily, but overall this is a strong and absorbing evocation of a world in flux, and the life of a strong woman within it. --Elizabeth Sourbut --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘A most original interpretation of Britain by way of Celtic religion and the Great Mother… a remarkable feat of imagination’

‘A pillar of the fantasy field, Bradley combines romance, rich historical detail, magical dazzlements, grand adventure and feminist sentiments into the kind of novel her fans have been yearning for’

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More addictive reading from the Queen of Avalon! 29 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Let's get is straight - if you've read the other Marion Zimmer Bradley books in the Avalon series, and you're dying for a "fix", you won't be disappointed with this one. Published posthumously with the collaboration of Diane Paxson, the story of Eilan is a well-written tale with a timeline that interweaves seamlessly with "Lady of Avalon", and shares many of the same characters.
For the first time in the Avalon series, life outside Britannia is explored, as Eilan becomes "Helena" and takes her place in Roman society alongside her husband, Constantius. The descriptions of faraway places are evocative and the reader is aided by a series of maps and translated place-names in the introduction to the book.
There were only two small issues which struck me initially; firstly that the book is written in the first person, while no others of the Avalon series are written this way, and secondly, that in a very early part of the book there are a couple of spelling and "continuity" errors. However, these are small things and will probably be ironed out in later editions.
I would highly recommend this book to Marion Zimmer Bradley fans, and congratulate Diane Paxson on her contribution to the work. I have read and re-read the other Avalon books until they were in tatters, and it seems I am destined to do the same with this one!!!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Marion's Legacy 28 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Thís fourth "Avalon" novel tells the life story of Eilan, a Priestess of Avalon, who becomes the wife/concubine of the Roman soldier Constantius Chlorus and mother of the legendary Emperor Constantine the Great, who later will be worshipped as a Christian saint. Known as Helena to the Romans, Eilan has to leave the isle of Avalon, because she wants to follow her heart. Her way leads her to Roman Germania, Rome and eventually the Holy Land. But her true home is elsewhere. Bradley's novel is a careful reimagination of a historical character that sometimes captures the reader with its atmospheric descriptions and lush storytelling. Written from Helena's first person point-of-view, Bradley adds another chapter to her popular series of pre-Arthurian historicals. Most of the time it is an entertaining read, but really too much happens off-stage or is simple recounted in dry sentences. Helena's story would have had the potential to rival THE MISTS OF AVALON, and it would have demanded a truly epic treatment. There are far too many time jumps and too much is left out. I think this novel could easily have been twice as long. Overall, this is a good book for MZB/Avalon fans, but not for people who have yet to encounter the magic of Marion Zimmer Bradley. And although Bradley died in 1999, there will be yet another novel in this series linking her Atlantis novel THE FALL OF ATLANTIS with her Avalon books...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Side-Wise Look at History 1 Sep 2009
This is the life history of Helena (Elian), concubine to Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine the Great, as she grows from Avalon initiate to priestess to Avalon outcast, entering the realm of known history as wife and mother to two Caesars in the waning days of the Roman empire. This story has only a little of the fantasy elements of Mists of Avalon, and doesn't detail all the gory politics and wars of Rome of that period, but is rather a very personal look at this period of history, showing how her own personal thoughts, desires, and beliefs helped mold the political world of day, and the world event's effects on her.

The major portion of this still deals with one of the main themes of Mists: the conflict between the burgeoning Christian religion and the older 'pagan' ones, both Roman and British. Helena herself finds a synthesis, that there is one 'Great Being', that humans, in their limitations, cannot fully see, and therefore worship many aspects of this being, all valid in their own way.

Helen is well drawn; it is easy to become emotionally attached to her hopes and fears. The rest of the characters are not as fully realized, but still far more than cardboard. The strident feminism that marks much of Bradley's later works is very quiet here, only appearing in short thoughts and asides. But I think that if the reader does not have at least a passing knowledge of this period in history, some of the thematic power of this story will be missed. Things like the Council of Nicaea are treated as an offstage happening, as are many other events. This lends a certain distancing effect upon the reader; Helena's world seems not quite connected to the world at large. Some more direct exposition of some of these events would have helped this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priesstess of Avalon 2 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written and exciting. 20 years after the slaughter of the Druids on Ynys Mon (Anglesey) this covers the events that follow and shape Britain. As a Modern Druid working closely with the modern re-enactor Romans in Chester I found the content of this book very close to my heart. The story flows seamlessly and is gripping all the way. Her knowledge and re creation of the Romano British world and way of life is a joy.
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