Publication Order of Avalon Books
|The Mists of Avalon||(1979)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Forest House||(1993)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Lady of Avalon||(1997)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Priestess of Avalon||(2000)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Ancestors of Avalon||(2004)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Raven of Avalon||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Sword of Avalon||(2009)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Chronological Order of Avalon Books
The chronology of the Avalon books is as follows: Ancestors of Avalon; Sword of Avalon; Ravens of Avalon; The Forests of Avalon (aka The Forest House); Lady of Avalon; Priestess of Avalon; The Mists of Avalon.
Marion Zimmer Bradley was an American author who specialized in the genres of fantasy, historical fantasy and science fiction. She was born in Albany, New York in 1930 and began writing during the Great Depression in 1947. Bradley graduated from the Hardin-Simmons University in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and later moved to Berkeley to pursue her graduate studies in the University of California.
As a child, Bradley enjoyed reading adventure/fantasy novels which strongly influenced her works later in life. Not a stranger to controversial themes, she also wrote a number of gay and lesbian pulp fiction novels under a number of pseudonyms.
Throughout her life she has been known to support a number of unpublished authors with their careers, some of whom have been able to participate in the writing of one of her most popular series, Darkover.
Bradley passed on in 1999 after suffering from a heart attack a few days before her death.
The Avalon Series
This series was written with help from Diana L. Paxson, who took over the authorship after Bradley’s death. It focuses on the legendary isle of Avalon- how it was created, its history and how it eventually faded away with the introduction of the Romans’ religion, Christianity.
Bradley explores the story of King Arthur and the legends related to it, incorporating historical figures and events of that time. She also explores the themes of the conflict between the pagan and Christian traditions, and how both traditions offer wisdom.
The most interesting thing about the Avalon series is the feminist point of view, where villains in the King Arthur stories like Morgan Le Fay are actually portrayed as strong women who tried to protect her people’s traditions in the midst of political and spiritual upheaval.
The first book based on the isle of Avalon, The Mists of Avalon, was actually published as a novel on its own. Its popularity since its release has however given birth to a series of novels that focus on the women behind the throne of Britain.
A movie based on this first publication was released in 2001, and was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2002 and a Screen Actors Guild Award in the same year. It also won a Primetime Emmy in 2002.
The Mists of Avalon
This book tells the story of the women who influence King Arthur and those around him, and it’s centered around Morgaine, the priestess of Avalon and King Arthur’s half sister.
Igraine- Morgaine and Arthur’s mother- marries Uther Pendagron, who is the future high king of Britain, after her husband Gorloise is killed in battle. Morgaine witnesses Uther’s ascension to the throne after his predecessor dies, and when Arthur is only six years old and she eleven, an attempt is made on his life.
Their maternal aunt, Viviane- who is also the high priestess of Avalon- then convinces Uther to have Arthur fostered far away from court. She is also allowed to take Morgaine to Avalon, where she is trained as a High Priestess of The Mother Goddess. It is here that she realizes the tension between the old pagan religion and the newly introduced Christian religion.
When Morgaine turns 18, she is initiated as a priestess of the Mother, and Viviane continues to groom her as the next Lady of Avalon. During a traditional fertility rite, she is given to the future high king of Britain, as a symbol of his wedding to the land he is to defend. However, she realizes that she was given to her half-brother Arthur and they are both devastated by this discovery. Two months later, Morgaine realizes that she is pregnant, and she is unable to stay in Avalon as she believes that her aunt betrayed her and gave her to her half-brother knowingly.
She goes to her aunt Morgause’s court in Lothian, where she bears her son Gwydion. Morgause’s ambitious husband Lot convinces her to trick Morgaine into letting them raise her son, and being unable to handle Lot’s unwanted advances, Morgaine finally agrees and leaves Lothian.
The story then shifts to King Arthur’s court, where Morgaine has become a lady-in-waiting to the high queen, Gwenhwyfar. It is here that the conflict between the two prominent religions in Britain intensifies, as Gwenhwyfar is a Christian fanatic. She strongly believes that her inability to bear children is a punishment from God, as she hasn’t convinced her husband to outlaw the pagan religion in Britain.
When she eventually persuades Arthur to replace his father’s banner with his own Christian banner, relations between Avalon and Britain become more strained. The tension gets worse, however, when Arthur discovers that he has a son with Morgaine, and he starts to believe that his lack of heirs is also a punishment from God for laying with his half-sister.
The Forest House
This is the second publication based on the Avalon series, and it’s an adaptation of the opera Norma, which tells the story of the love affair between a Druid priestess and a Roman Officer.
The story begins with the persecution of the Druids by Romans- their sanctuary is destroyed, their Druids are killed and the priestesses raped, and most of them kill themselves after giving birth to children conceived from the rape. One of the surviving priestesses, Lhiannon, later establishes the Forest House, a sanctuary that is partly controlled by the Romans.
We then follow Elian, the main protagonist, who hears the calling of The Goddess to become a priestess and succeed Lhiannon as The High Priestess. This is after she has fallen in love with Gaius Macellius, a Roman soldier of royal Celtic origin. She then bears him a son, who she has to protect due to his mixed Druid, Roman and Celtic origin. Knowing that his existence would cause serious upheaval, she convinces her friend to move a group of young priestesses to Avalon, where she takes up the role of The High Priestess.
The Avalon series has strong controversial religious themes, and this can be attributed to the fact that Bradley practiced neo-paganism and Western esotericism in her life. She also seems to be in favor of strong feminist characters, rather than the traditional heroic male protagonists that seem to dominate fantasy novels.Book Series In Order » Characters » Avalon