Lately, I’ve been watching the Camelot series. I’m so in love with that time, and the story, it’s such an epic, tragic tale, I never tire of it. No matter how many times I read it, hear it or watch it, I never get bored.
I don’t think anyone knows any more, what really happened or when. Who was King Arthur really? And Morgaine? Was she his sister? Mother? Aunt? Lover? Or was she Merlin’s lover? Every writer has their own twist to the story, and sometimes Morgaine is evil, sometimes she’s good, and sometimes she’s ‘just’ a strong woman who would not let herself be ruled by others.
I think the tale that has gripped me the most is that spun by Marion Zimmer Bradley in the novel ‘Mists of Avalon’. Bradley lay out the Arthurian legend from the females’ point of view, following at first his mother Igraine, before Arthur was even born, how her husband, Morgaine’s father, had to die in order for her to marry Uther Pendragon who was rising to the throne.
We also follow his sister Morgaine, in love with her cousin Lancelot, who in return is in love with his king’s wife Guinevere, who loves both Lancelot and the king. Morgaine is raised to be a priestess by her aunt Viviane, the High Priestess of Avalon, and during Arthur’s coronation, she is tricked into sleeping with him, not knowing that he is her brother. We follow all the women in his life, Guinevere, Viviane, Morgause, Igraine, Morgaine, and other women who are often marginalized in Arthurian retellings.
The tale is so tragic and epic at the same time, we see how jealousy, greed and lust can destroy a strong kingdom from within, and in the meantime, a war rages through the country, between Christianity and Paganism, while the one can tolerate and live with the other, the Christians have always condemned everyone who does not share their faith as heathens. Everything that is not their God, must be evil and come from the devil. We see this very strongly in the book, how Guinevere, who is not a bad woman, and who could have been very close with Arthur’s sister, is traumatized because of her faith. Growing up in a nunnery, she can not accept that Morgaine lives by another faith and worships a Goddess and a God, rather than just a God, and being unable to give Arthur a child, she thinks it to be a punishment for her and Arthur’s sins. While Arthur promised to respect and treat all his people, she begs him to take down his father’s banner, the dragon, which she considers to be a pagan symbol, and asks him to ride under a cross instead. Loving her as he does, he gives in to her every wish…
The book is not light, it’s not something you pick up to have some light reading on the bed. It takes time, and to really enjoy it, you have to think, reflect and feel it. But it’s definitely worth your time… There’s also a movie based on the book, and the girl who plays young Morgaine in the movie ‘The Mists of Avalon’ also plays Guinevere in the series ‘Camelot‘.
I need to re-read this book… But not on my kindle. It’s too long for that, I need to actually see that I’m moving through the book page by page, the % isn’t enough in this case.Then, I aught to start on one of the many books for my English class next year.
What is your summer reading? Any recommendation?