Marion Zimmer Bradley pulls us into the Arthur legend to reveal the women behind the men. When the book was first written, feminism was rising and independence and equality was murmured on every woman’s lips. Marion gives life to this movement by illuminating the personal transformations of the women of the Arthur legend such as Igraine and Morgaine. After being pushed into different directions like puppets to fulfill their fates by the High Priestess of Avalon (their sister), both women reject the role as victim and decide to follow their own hearts and their own fates.
Marion does not only stick to the basic myth but delves into the religious war between Pagans and Christians. Many characters, like Igraine, are torn between their duties to paganism and to the christian religion of their husbands. Each religion is shown in a bad light. The High Priestess of Avalon uses her own people as puppets to keep her faith alive but the priests of Christianity see paganism as a disease. The only middle ground seen is from the Merlin who believes that they are all worshiping the same gods under different names. Whose to say that the Mother Mary is not also the goddess?
What makes the Arthur legend so popular is one basic premise: that a person will come along and unite the land and begin a time of peace. It is hope that everyone has: Peace. And maybe one day, Arthur will rise and save us from ourselves. Yet after reading this version, maybe a woman will be our savior!