While I was at the library used bookstore last week, I came across a gorgeous new hardcover edition of this book, which was exciting. I had already been familiar with “The Mists of Avalon” (both the book and the miniseries) so decided to give it a try. It is set after the Arthurian books and deals with the Christianization of Europe. I’m also including it in the Once Upon a Time V challenge.
The book tells the story of Eilan, a priestess of Avalon who has a talent for prophecy. She tries to act in accordance with her visions, which causes her to break her vows and fall in love with a Roman, getting herself kicked out of Avalon in the process. She can’t actually marry Constantius, because she was illegitimate, but they do have a kid together who later becomes emperor Constantine.
While the story itself was alright, I thought that most of the female characters other than Eilan herself were very catty. I can only describe Eilan’s lover Constantius as a dick. He did some very douchey things in the book that Eilan should not have forgiven him for. Eilan’s son Constantine wasn’t much better. Actually, he might have been worse. The book also tended to be rather preachy and girly at the same time, especially as Eilan aged.
One thing that I did like about “Priestess of Avalon” was Bradley’s viewpoint on religion–that all religions were different ways of looking at the same God. That meant that she was able to describe the Christians and the pagans without making either look like villains, but merely two different perspectives through which to see the world. It was also kind of neat to read a book that was post-King Arthur that still used a lot of the same elements of Arthurian legend.