DNF: The Mists of Avalon

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer BradleyI’ve read pieces of modern interpretations of Le Morte d’Arthur and seen both the “Merlin” mini-series and “The Sword in the Stone” about six thousand times each, but my knowledge of the Arthurian legend is pretty weak. My sister-in-law loves the whole genre, though, and was kind enough to lend me her copy of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. I wish I could have enjoyed it.

The main issue was that I didn’t understand the world building. There’s the regular world but there’s also Avalon, this magical place. Apparently there’s extensive blending of the two as people wander in and out of each, occasionally on accident.

I could never get a grasp on exactly where characters were, or what they were, or even who they were; they’ve all got multiple names (one Christian, one pagan, and sometimes a third from somewhere else), and many of them sound similar. I couldn’t keep characters straight.

Beyond that, I just wasn’t interested in political machinations and maneuvering, blatant deception, incest, and the creepiest/lamest setup for a threesome scene I’ve ever read — not to mention a cop-out “pan to the fire” description from Bradley that took any pep right out of what could have been the best—or at least the sexiest—scene.

I dislike giving up on a book, but there was no way I was going to push through 876 pages just to prove I could. Next!

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8 Responses

  1. trish July 29, 2012 / 3:49 pm

    I DNFed this one years ago. It’s too bad, really. I loved the cover and the story sounded kinda cool, but -ugh- it was a slog. And reading just shouldn’t be a slog. There are too many other books out there waiting to be discovered and too little time as it is, so. Yeah. Next! lol

    • amypeveto July 29, 2012 / 4:52 pm

      I feel doubly bad about it because my sister-in-law loves the whole series/genre — I hate giving a bad review to something someone really loves and has recommended. :(

      I watched the “Merlin” series last night to cleanse my palette. It’s well done, especially for a mini-series. It’s available on Netflix, if you’ve got it.

      Agreed 100 percent that reading shouldn’t be a slog. Moving on! :D

  2. Susan Brehm July 29, 2012 / 6:08 pm

    I just got a copy a couple of weeks ago – used a couple of pages and part of the cover on the high heel shoe collage I made for Liz… lol. But I copied the pages I was going to use and plan to give the book a go. Who knows, maybe I’ll like it. :)

    • amypeveto July 30, 2012 / 11:31 pm

      Excellent use of pages. :) I hope you like it too.

  3. Laurie @ What She Read July 29, 2012 / 7:38 pm

    Ah, a kindred spirit. I have attempted this novel more than once but never felt engaged with it. Loved The Once And Future King, the first section of which is “The Sword in the Stone”, though. Right now I’m wondering whether anyone knows of a high quality YA series focused on Arthurian women. If not, it’s time to pick up my pen and get working on one!

    • amypeveto July 30, 2012 / 11:35 pm

      I’m glad I’m not alone in my lack of enthusiasm for this one. I haven’t heard of a YA series focusing on these; the themes are pretty adult, though, and it would be hard to alter it to YA and still have the same impact on the reader.

      Yes, write it! And I’ll read it. :)

  4. Jenny July 30, 2012 / 10:33 pm

    Aw, dang! This is the only Arthur based book I actually liked.

    • amypeveto July 30, 2012 / 11:40 pm

      Sorry, Jenny. :( I read your blog pretty often, and although our tastes overlap some, we’re actually pretty divergent in our likes and dislikes. Makes the world go round!

      I’m glad you liked it, though. And it’s a really popular series, so I don’t think it’s in danger of losing its appeal. It just wasn’t for me.

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