The Mists of Avalon Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy The Mists of Avalon Analysis

Bradley’s story blends the supernatural and the ordinary to create fantasy. The Goddess of Avalon is not simply an unseen force but also an aspect of living women. At times, reincarnation and karmic destiny drive the plot, and throughout the story, psychic visions, called Sight, give glimpses of the future and of several pasts, including one in Atlantis. Faeries kidnap lost travelers, Druids forge the legendary Excalibur, and ceremonial magic is a part of daily life. In short, Bradley’s tale depicts a fantasy world fraught with mysticism and mythic figures.

A complex novel about the mythical King Arthur, The Mists of Avalon joins a distinguished body of late twentieth century Arthurian fiction. Like T. H. White’s two-part story—The Once and Future King (1968) and The Book of Merlyn (1977)—Bradley’s novel translates medieval concepts into images that twentieth century readers can understand. Unlike White’s account, Bradley’s rendering of the myth tells little about the specifics of war and battle, focusing instead on characters and their intricate relationships. In doing so, The Mists of Avalon resembles Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy—The Crystal Cave (1970), The Hollow Hills (1973), and The Last Enchantment (1979). By salvaging the character Morgaine from her traditional role as an evil sorceress, Bradley’s novel adds a decidedly feminist voice to a body of literature that...

(The entire section is 499 words.)