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4.5 out of 5 stars29
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 23 October 2000
Does Rumon find his Avalon? The quest for what seems like the unattainable takes the reader on a fascinating, interesting and exciting journey through 10th century England. This little known period of history is brought to life as we follow our French Prince Rumon and the Cornish "Lady" Merewyn searching for Avalon and each other throughout their lives. We share their highs and lows, always willing them on towards each other. Their journey moves from France through Cornwall to England and then beyond to Iceland and Greenland before returning to England. Anya Seton twists and turns her tale right to the last page and one can either rejoice or despair at the outcome! As a newcomer to Anya Seton's work I am now hooked! I throughly enjoyed the book. A highly recommended read, especially for those who enjoy history, adventure and romance in one book!
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Based upon a true story, this is the epic telling of the life of a woman named Merewyn, who lived during the tumultuous tenth and eleventh centuries. Her mother had been the victim of one of the Viking raids on the coast of Cornwall. As a result, Merewyn was born. Her life was to change when a Prince of Provence named Rumon, the sole survivor of a shipwreck, was washed upon the shores near Merwyn's home.

As Rumon is a Prince of the House of Atheling, he is looking for his royal kin. Fourteen year old Merewyn, her mother having died of illness, acts as his guide. When they get to Court, Merewyn, who believes herself to be descended from King Arthur, is afforded a place in the Queen's retinue, while Rumon becomes great friends with the King. The King has two sons, Edward by his first wife, and Ethelred by his second wife, the beautiful Queen Alfrida, who is as evil as she is beautiful.

The years pass, and Merewyn, who was originally fond of the Queen, finally sees her for what she is. Rumon, however, falls under her thrall, much to Merewyn's dismay, as she has fallen in love with him. When the King mysteriously dies, Edward ascends the throne at the age of fourteen. Unfortunately, he, too, meets an ignominious end, and his younger brother, Ethelred, becomes King. He will eventually be known as Ethelred the Unready.

Against this historical backdrop, Merewyn and Rumon live out their lives, star-crossed lovers whose lives, though intersecting, are never able to be joined. They would each find themselves on a path in which happiness would elude them. How they reconcile their respective fates and where the road of life leads them makes for an enjoyable tale told by a master storyteller. Set against the backdrop of Viking raids, battle, and adventure, this is a well-researched and well-written work of historical fiction that those who enjoy this particular genre will relish.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 January 2007
Very enjoyable. It was nice taking a travel through history in a period of time not so frequently written about. The up and down see saw of Merewyn's and Ruman's star crossed love was heartbreaking at times. I don't want to say more to give out the end.

It isn't Katherine by a long shot, but still a good read, and I would recommend to any lover of historical fiction.
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on 28 May 2009
I loved this book, it's another historical epic by Seton and it doesn't fail to deliver. The lives of two people are connected by a chance meeting which affects their actions for many years to come. It comes a close second to Seton's Katherine.
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on 18 December 2006
An amazing novel, complete Seton-ian material. Beautifully written and always engaging, the reaon for my rating however is that it did not touch me as much as "Katherine," to which I compare all Seton's other novels.
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on 18 January 2013
This was for my wife and she cannot put it down - read it years ago and is now very pleased to be rereading it.
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on 12 July 2007
This was book was great, although I am not too sure if it was the thrill of actually seeing my name in print and it not be about me!

I am no book critic however I was gripped, interested and moved by the book and enjoyed it even more when I found out at the end that it was based on facts and not just a work of fiction.

I am pleased that I read it and look forward to reading it again.

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on 2 April 2016
Read many years ago so I'd forgotten the story. I love Anya Seton's writings and this is an unusual setting full of well researched historical information.about the little known history of Iceland and the first explorations and discoveries of the American continent. A must for people like me who like historical novels which give a very clear picture of how we lived in the past.
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2008
This is the bittersweet story of Cornish girl Merewyn, and Provencal adventurer Rumon who's paths cross in 10th century Britain. Both of them have lessons to learn and their lives are a steep learning curve set against a backdrop of deadly politics at the Anglo Saxon Saxon court and amid Viking raids. The ending, while satisfying, is not a traditional happy ever after.
I do feel that Avalon, while not having the mass popular appeal of Katherine, is perhaps the better novel, although both are excellent. I was interested to read the reviewer who thought Avalon was dated, because Katherine is actually older than Avalon and seems of the two to be the more dated one to me in terms of social mores. I particularly liked the scenes in Greenland in Avalon and Merewyn's life among the Vikings - perhaps because it was unusual for the time it was written and a bit more off the beaten track. Seton is one of those writers who paints with words.
Five stars from this reader.
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on 24 February 2013
Rumon, a French knight of royal blood, is shipwrecked off the Cornish coast. There, he has a chance encounter with Merewyn, a simple impoverished English girl, and their fates become entwined forever. Rumon is searching for the fabled isle of Avalon, the "island of the blessed" where he can find everlasting peace. Merewyn's goal is far less grandiose. She wants her love for Rumon to be returned, and to become his wife. However, Rumon is infatuated with the scheming Queen, and he also knows the tragic truth of Merewyn which burdens him greatly. Avalon is not mawkish or overly sentimental. It is a story of unrequited love, misplaced passion and youthful dreams cruelly dashed. There is no happy ending in the usual sense, but each character finds a degree of reconciliation and harmony. It has an extraordinary sense of tone, time and space. By the end of the novel, you really do feel like you've lived through the 25 or so years that the story spans.
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