At its absolute best, this book is just plain fun and appeared in my life when I was discovering interests in both Arthurian legend and paganism.
Told through the experience of the women of King Arthur's court, the book takes a unique look at the familiar legend and embraces most, if not all, of the female characters involved in the tale in a manner and depth not found in more classical renderings. This beautifully fulfills the ultimate aim of any fictional re-telling of a familiar story: to light a faded tapestry to show threads of a more brilliant hue, thus drawing the eye and satisfying the heart with heretofore unrecognised hidden depths.
The main character, Morgaine, classically known as Morgan le Fay, is traditionally presented in the simplest terms as the nemesis of King Arthur. In The Mists of Avalon, she is portrayed in a rather more forgiving and heroic light. Convinced by what she interprets as the inexorable erosion of her native mystic-Celtic tradition to the tide of Christianity sweeping the land, she calls upon her childhood training and deeply held beliefs to battle what she sees as the death of her culture, to ultimately find that the only absolute is change and the only firm ground upon which to stand is love.
The voice of the book is not limited to Morgaine, also represented are Gwenhwyfar, Morgause, Igraine, Vivian and Nimue, all contributing their own often humourous, often heart-rending, maddening and unforgettable accounts of reality in their own thoughts and words. This book forges a feeling of having re-discovered nearly every woman you have ever known and realise you never really forgot.