Jean has always been an avid reader. She loves books, not only for their knowledge and plots, but as an emotional retreat from the world.
"The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley
"The Mists of Avalon", by Marion Zimmer Bradley, is an enchanting retelling of the enduring legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It differs from other books on this topic because the story is told from a woman’s point of view, in this case, Morgaine, Arthur’s half sister, and the last priestess of the goddess who presided over the mystical island of Avalon.
In some stories she is known by the more familiar name of Morgan Le Fay. Morgaine has been raised in the Pagan traditions in this magical place where both nature and women are worshiped, and Arthur is very familiar with them, though he has been raised in the Pendragon Court. The mists that surround the Isle of Avalon are so thick that many are unable to find it, and most need to have psychic abilities, or the sight, to aid them in locating this place. When the goddess or Lady of the Lake allows passage to a visitor who has the sight, a barge arrives at the shore of the lake to ride them across to the other side.
The time period portrayed is the era during which Christianity is beginning to spread as far as Britain, because Joseph of Arimathea built the first Christian church honoring the Virgin Mary in Glastonbury, across from the Isle of Avalon. Priests started to travel to the area to preach and spread the word of the Christ, but the inhabitants of Avalon still practice Beltane and other Pagan festivals. Women have little power, and are just used in arranged marriages to assure peace between tribes, and to bear sons for their kings.
As the story begins, Igraine, a young priestess from Avalon, is sent to marry a man many years her elder, in a place that she has never seen. She is expected to give up her Pagan ways then, but sees a vision from her mother Viviane, who is also the Lady of the Lake. Viviane reproaches Igraine for giving up her gift of the sight, and tells her that she will bear the next king of Avalon. It is imperative that he be someone who can unite and command loyalty from both the Pagan and Christian factions of British peoples.
Lady of the Lake
The Pendragon Court Era Begins
Shortly afterward, Igraine notices the handsome knight Uther Pendragon when the men return from war, and he becomes her lover. Uther speaks of the temple of Avalon and the great turning of the wheel of life, death, and rebirth. Igraine sees a vision through his eyes as they stand on the barren plain we now know as Stonehenge, the place where the rituals were held for centuries. Uther has the symbolic snakes tattooed on his wrists, which represent the kundalini energies that aid in visions and help to give protection in battle.
As their shared vision continues, Uther is being crowned as king, as he is someone who will uphold the important mysteries and symbols of his Pagan upbringing. Unbeknownst to Uther and Igraine, the Lady of the Lake, Viviane, already sees that there must be more heirs to the throne from Avalon, and risks a pregnancy later in life to bear a son named Galahad, whom is sent to Uther’s court to learn the knightly arts.
Young Galahad is the younger brother of Lancelet, who was also brought up with the Pagan ways. Soon the men return to war, and Igraine receives a coded message that Uther will return from battle at midwinter. Her elderly husband dies in battle, leaving Igraine free to be queen of Uther Pendragon’s court. Igraine is already pregnant with Uther’s son Arthur at the time, but although the priests are cruel to her, the people are happy to have an heir from Uther.
Young Arthur is reared at the court, until he suffers a treacherous blow to the head. The plotting, evil, and lies are beginning already, and Viviane, the High Priestess, sees that she must come to heal Arthur, and take him to Avalon for a time until he is more mature and can defend himself. Uther and Igraine’s daughter Morgaine is also sent to Avalon, told by Viviane that she will be taught in a convent. But she has seen how gifted Morgaine is in the ways of the goddess, and really takes her to Avalon to learn the high priestess rites and arts.
The priests teach hell fire and damnation to anyone who dares to speak of the old ways, though they have the hard task of spreading a word that some do not want to hear. Young Lancelet is also sent to Avalon to be taught by Merlin, alongside of Arthur. The fact that all three of these young people happen to be in the misty Avalon together one Beltane when they come of age has repercussions in all their lives that will never be overcome.
Merlin and Morgaine Want Pagan Traditions
Merlin, the magician and wise man from Avalon, often visits the court, as he is an accomplished harpist and both his music and advice is welcome in this court. Merlin speaks to Igraine of his fears about the dying Pagan traditions, and tells her, “The priests of the holy isle took an oath, four hundred years before, promising they would never drive the people of Avalon from their lands. But in their prayers, they have sought to drive the Pagan gods away with their god, and enforce their Christian wisdom over the former Pagan wisdom. In the whole world there must be only one god, and the two worlds are drifting apart.”
The priestesses and inhabitants of Avalon believe in reincarnation, that each person has many lives to experience all things and to balance their karma. When the priestesses are old enough, they are rewarded with a tattoo of a crescent moon on their foreheads, showing their allegiance to the goddess and nature, similar to the snakes that adorn the arms of the men of Avalon. Merlin truly believes that people can agree that there is only one god, whatever a person decides to call him or her. But he is troubled as he sees fanatical Christians working hard to win over the minds and hearts of all the people, with their religion of fear, intolerance, and sin. He is not entirely closed to their message, but wishes to see them agree that there is more than one way to worship.
Morgaine continues to learn at Viviene’s side at Avalon, where she practices her magic and her psychic skills become even stronger. She is delighted to see Lancelet when he arrives on the barge to visit Viviene. He does not really view her as his real mother, since he has been reared at the court, and is somewhat frightened of this stately priestess of the goddess. Avalon is such a mystical place, it seems that even time is different there, and the little fairy folk follow the visitors around.
But he is happy to revisit the beauty and magic of Avalon, the music of the harps, and to find his cousin Morgaine, who has grown to be quite a beauty. They climb the Tor one afternoon, and begin to feel their first stirrings of sexual arousal. Before they are able to act upon it, they hear the voice of a frightened child cry out, and hurry to help her. It turns out to be Gwenhwyfar, and they escort her back to the convent, never guessing how their destinies will be so entwined with hers.
Mists of Avalon Book
The Fateful Beltane Ceremony
Morgaine has been told that she must remain a virgin at the request of the goddess until the time is right. When it is, a virgin huntress must give her maidenhood to the horned one, or the king stag, the consort of the huntress. This is a time-honored tradition in Avalon. Viviane tells Morgaine that she has been chosen to be that consort this year. The maidens wound her hair in garlands of berries and spring flowers, paint her body, clothe her, give her beautiful necklaces and a gown, and gift her with the blue crescent moon on her head in preparation for this special Beltane.
At sunrise, Morgaine is led to carry on the tradition that went back as far as the druids. The young man being led towards her is tall, fair haired, and powerfully built. He is also painted and wearing deer skins, and has antlers attached to his head. Morgaine feels a new and different kind of awareness flow into her body. But as the sight is getting her confused, she sees older versions of this Beltane ceremony from times past, and also feels her own virginity being taken by the king stag, the fair haired and blue painted young man who joins with her in a cave.
They fall asleep after the deed is done, drowsy from what they have been given to drink in the potions. When they awake in the morning, they are both surprised to find they are only a young woman and a young man, not priestess and king stag. They decide that since they have been together already for the sacred ceremony, why deny themselves the pleasure of joining once more as mere mortals? They make love tenderly, and tears fall gently as they do. But then the spell is broken, and they recognize each other as Arthur and Morgaine!
How could the goddess require this of them? Arthur is sickened and ashamed to find he has slept with his half-sister, as he has been schooled in the Christian ways, even though his roots are in Avalon. Viviane finally explains that both partners had to be of the royal bloodline of Avalon. She knows from the sight that Uther Pendragon has died in battle, and there was no time to waste, Arthur is heir to the throne and now the high king of Britain. Morgaine did what the goddess demanded of her, and although Viviane thought they were drugged enough never to recognize each other, it could not be helped now.
Read More From Owlcation
Morgaine is furious, but has sworn her life to do as the goddess wishes, and is now a high priestess herself. She sews an enchanted scabbard for the magical sword Excalibur, imbued with her powers. Merlin insists that Arthur swear that he will commit his life to preserving the old Pagan and fairy customs alongside of the Christian ones. Merlin prepares Arthur for the day that he wishes to see, when the druids, priests, and everyone will worship the same god, for Merlin believes there is only one deity, but different people use different names for this being. Poor Arthur tries to console himself with the thought he really slept with a red haired goddess at the Beltane ritual, but Morgaine has the powers to be maiden, mother, and crone or wise woman all at one time, and appears larger and different in these roles. When she later finds that she is pregnant with Arthur’s child, she lies by omission.
The Legend of Camelot Endures
Arthur quickly returns home to his role as king and he marries Gwenhwyfar as his queen, and although it is a match that unites people temporarily, her strict adherence to the tenets of Christianity gradually eat away at Arthur, making him torn between his wife and his duty to uphold the Pagan traditions. His queen is portrayed as a whiner who is afraid of her own shadow. Arthur is much beloved in his lands, as both a fair man and a great warrior. Gwenhwyfar’s marriage gift to Arthur is the famous Round Table, made so that when matters of importance are discussed, no one person sits at the head of the table, so each person’s voice can be equally heard.
His kingdom of Camelot grows stronger and wealthier as the years go on, and many merry occasions are celebrated as the knights and their beautifully decked out ladies join Arthur around the table. Arthur’s best friend and confidant, Lancelet, is very good looking and attracts the eye of many a maiden. Unfortunately, he has eyes only for Gwenhwyfar, and she for him, which causes many a problem. Arthur loves Lancelet as well, they have been best friends all their lives, and he is not blind to the way Lancelet and Gwenhwyfar look at each other. One further sadness is that Gwenhwyfar is never able to carry a child to term, so Arthur has no legal heir to the throne, as far as he knows. He has a plan to try to remedy this situation, one that causes further jealousies and treacheries in the court.
Gwenhwyfar’s stict adherence to the Christian laws, as interpreted by the terribly stern and unyeilding priests she keeps around the palace, prove to be the bane of everyone’s existence around the court. Yet she is a hypocrite in her own actions and not as pious as she would have everyone believe. Merlin keeps hoping that people will finally come to their senses and realize that there is only one god for the whole earth, no matter what he/she is called.
Arthur is so generous and beloved by all the knights who serve him, and it is almost agonizing to see him want to honor his vow to Merlin to preserve the old customs, but have to adapt to a changing world and Christianity in order to preserve his kingdom. As we all know, times and customs are always changing. Many already know how this story ends, and how the very people who made Camelot the shining beacon of beauty, goodwill, and luxury it was, are the very ones who bring it to ruin by their selfish scheming and actions.
This reader was enchanted within the first few pages of this wonderful re-telling of the story of the Knights of the Round Table told from the point of view of the women who loved them. The book is truly a magical spell in itself, and draws the reader in just as surely as any charm from the priestesses of the island of Avalon. This tale will keep you enthralled from start to finish, and make you yearn to follow your heart to the gentle slopes of Avalon and disappear in its mists for awhile to escape the demands of everyday life.
Knights of Round Table
© 2011 Jean Bakula
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on May 16, 2019:
I had meditations where I knew I participated in a Beltane with my late husband. I learn so much from you. I loved that book. I felt like I was Morgaine. I am still a Pagan at heart.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on May 13, 2019:
Beaconsfield 'olde towne' in Merrie England has hosted a family fun day
featuring the Town Crier in 18th century garb. "Hear ye Hear ye" as he rings the bell. A Maypole dance was performed including Morris dancers.
The weather perfect. The name Beaconsfield derives from the olde English; beech tree clearing.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on May 02, 2019:
It certainly is a lovely time of year. I adore flowers and they always make me smile. Although I plant many, I think I had something more to do with flowers in another life! I can remember standing in a field of tall flowers, taller than me, as a small child. My Mom verified that as the first apartment's yard she and my Dad lived in when I was a toddler. Yet I feel it's something more.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on May 01, 2019:
Lo ! Tis the flowery month of May, flowers for the May Queene. Bless.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on December 21, 2015:
The weird and wonderful never stop occurring in the Vale of Avalon.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 19, 2014:
Oh my, well, I definitely don't want to get blown off the Tor! I will plan according to the season when the time comes. Thanks for all your input.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on June 18, 2014:
I confess to never having seen mist actually in Avalon, we even get lesser fog in olde London towne these days but something like 6 years ago when i was on holiday and staying in the house that Dion Fortune had built. It was a fine late winter's day and i decided to climb the Tor. When i reached the summit i observed a blizzard coming so hurried to return to shelter indoors. The wind was so strong that i was close to being physically blown off Glastonbury Tor.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 17, 2014:
Lovely to hear from you as always, limpet. I almost wish I could go on this trip soon, but have already planned one for the holiday season. My husband of 34 yrs, passed on in January, and our son in his mid 20's and I don't think we can bear to be home for Christmas. But I'd rather visit the summerlands in warmer weather anyway, and have to be careful with money, though he did leave me safe in that respect.
I loved Morgaine's character, though she seems to be demonized in other books about Arthur. I like the way she fights to keep the Pagan ways, and am somewhat political anyway, so identified with her character.
Thanks for telling me so much about the area and making it more real in my mind!
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on June 17, 2014:
merry we meet
Talking of the metaphysical the 18/19th century William Blake the painter, poet and metaphysician lies in repose alongside his wife Catherine Sophie not too far from my lodgings. On my first venture to Glastonbury twas in 1985 aboard a tourist coach and when the Tor first came into view the tour guide played on a tape deck Blake's 'O Jerusalem' which was quite fitting. Other metaphysical themes in the region are Gog & Magog not the mythical giants but two ancient oaks on private land so i haven't seen them yet. The 'speaking tree' which is actually a Greek legend features in Glastonbury villiage as an esoteric bookshop with their logo of a tree with a Druidic priest's face (Merlin's)? The local school army cadets have the speaking tree symbol on a sign in front of their H.Q. The children's nursery rhymes Jack & Jill went up the hill and Little Jack Horner both derive from actual occurances. Whenever i have a meal at the George & Pilgrim's Inn and they ask me where i want to sit and it is always Jack Horner's corner (of the room).
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 16, 2014:
I appreciate all the info you are giving me. I take classes on metaphysics, lately on Intuition and Clairvoyance, and it's amazing how much talent so many people have. I told you when I read this book it's like chimes were going off in my mind. I strongly believe in reincarnation, and feel I must have lived there and had a lifetime in the area. I identify as a Pagan now, though not a Wiccan. I read people really well, and after meditating and taking courses, am improving. I definitely will take this trip, hopefully not too many years into the future.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on June 16, 2014:
I must say that i do consider the west country of merrie olde England to be a 'Woman friendly' place due to the number of Ladies that i personally know there to have the wisdom and healing vitues. Some had studied hard to achieve whilst others have a natural instinct. It is also remarkable the number of people who opt to retire down there.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 13, 2014:
Thanks for the head's up. I can imagine that it would be easy to set up a "theme park" kind of atmosphere, and when I go, I will watch out for that. Recently I planned a trip to the Caribbean, and found much of the original, beautiful plant growth has been cut down to make ostentatious buildings that take away all the color that gives the Caribbean it's beauty. I finally decided on Antigua, because I found a resort owned by a private company I enjoyed a stay in at another of their resorts. I will be careful when I plan my "Avalon" trip.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on June 13, 2014:
I've travelled the length and breadth of the U.K (well almost) and there is a something that keeps drawing me back to Somerset which is also known as Avalon or the lesser known 'summerlands' but more commonly known as the Levels.This region is not only famous for Glastonbury Tor or the abbey ruins but also the novelist Thomas Hardy who wrote numerous tomes on his fable Wessex. In addition the occultist Dion Fortune spent Her retirement here and i always pay my respects at Her burial plot. A word of forwarning though, in modern tymes unscrupulous profiteers are turning scenic sites into theme parks.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 12, 2014:
I am so fascinated by that area, and fell in love with it when I read The Mists of Avalon. I have a picture of the UK on my "dreamboard" and must go there one day. I feel a strong affinity to the area, and my clairvoyant friend says I was once persecuted for being a Pagan in another life. I want to visit those ley lines, and see all the sites. It's really so interesting. Thanks for your comments.
Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on June 12, 2014:
As a frequent visitor to England's west country i'm no stranger to the Glastonbury environs and totally convinced the region is steeped in folklore unfortunately slowly disappearing. There is a pub in the town of Street (one mile south of Glasto) called the Lantokey. Now what is a lantokey? It is a sacred grove where the Druids practiced ritual. Although the Druids predate Arthur by more than a century we know very little because the wrote nothing down.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on February 12, 2014:
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll add it to my "to read" list!
MercuriusTJ on February 12, 2014:
Lady Jean, I love everything about this enchanting era. Try reading the Moon Riders. It show a woman and possible historical perceptive of the Trojan War.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 13, 2012:
It's interesting and make me want to learn more about Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It's long, but I have a feeling you read fast. It is told from the point of view of the women, but there's lots of action going on with all the knights in battles as well. It's a popular book, especially since HP has many readers from Britain.
Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on June 12, 2012:
I normally stick to science fiction when I read novels, but this sounds like a fun and interesting read. Thanks for the introduction!
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on January 31, 2012:
Oh that would be terrific, please let me know about the book! I loved Mists. I felt like I was dying when the Christian ways made the Pagan ways look so bad, when all they did was honor the Earth. I'm so happy you enjoyed my review.
Scott Fischer from Spring, Tx on January 31, 2012:
Oh this is top notch...I am quite the Arthur buff....and I loved the Mists of Avalon...I have done alot of research, and the popular belief now is Arthur is actually a story of 9-13 Arthurs combined...I will have to get that book for you and post it...
PWalker281 on January 29, 2012:
I'll look for it on Paperback Swap first, then on Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation!
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on January 29, 2012:
Yes, I don't even think Gwenivere chose Arthur, he just chose her and she had no choice. I felt sorry for her too. Clarissa Pinkola Estas wrote Women Who Run With The Wolves. I love that book, I read it at least once a year. She wrote another about the Virgin Mary, it's called Untie The Strong Woman. It was more religious than I expected, but I was touched by parts of it. The Goddess in Older Women is great, just where I am in life. I buy my books used at Amazon. You would like it.
PWalker281 on January 29, 2012:
I think Gwenivere's whiny-ness resulted from the fact that she was raised in a patriarchal society where women were subordinate to men; Morgaine, on the other hand, came from a culture where women ruled, so she was a lot stronger and more empowered.
Didn't Jean Shinoda Bolen write the book about wild women running with wolves? She was very popular in the 90s - at least that's when I came across her work. Yes, the Goddess in Older Women sounds right up my alley. I'll have to look for it. Thanks!
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on January 28, 2012:
I loved this book too, and you will also like Lady of Avalon, I just read it about two months ago. I saw the movie too, but rewatched it. I loved the way the only the Priestesses or Men with Dragon Tattoos could see the isle. It was romantic. I thought Gwenivere was really whiny in the book though! This book brought me to another author, Jean Shinoda Bolen, a psychotherapist, who took a healing trip to the British area where Glastonbury Tor and those places are located. She inspired my Greek Myth hubs, as she used the archetypes of the goddesses and gods in her work. I first read Crossing to Avalon, but the Goddess in OlderWomen was how I first found her, and wrote about menopausal women. You may like her work too.
PWalker281 on January 28, 2012:
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read Bradley's sci-fi novels before learning about this one and was eager to check it out. I recently acquired it again through Paperback Swap and will start re-reading it soon. I'll have to look for Lady of Avalon.
And yes, I remember the tv mini-series. Very well done with Juliana Margilies playing Morgaine.
I have to admit, I stopped reading the hub about halfway through because I'm about to reread the book. But I know it's as well written as all of your other hubs and will come back to it when I'm done.
Rated up and interesting!
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on September 13, 2011:
I found the Mists Avalon movie later, and it was the one I recalled. I enjoyed it so much more after reading the book. I just finished "Lady of Avalon", and the prequel is very good as well if you haven't yet read it. The first few pages are daunting, it lists 3 separate groups of Roman and Pagan leaders from the book's three parts. But the author skillfully explains who they all are in her story, so you don't need to memorize those lists or even consult them much. Enjoy! Thanks for commenting.
Kitty Fields from Summerland on September 13, 2011:
I'm reading this book right now and was hooked by just the sample. But then again, I own the television movie Mists of Avalon with Anjelica Houston as the Lady of the Lake and it is one of my favorite movies of all time. I can relate as I am a Pagan myself and follow the old ways. This review was phenomenal...makes me want to get home to my Kindle to read more now! :)
Jean Bakula on April 05, 2011:
Thank you so much for reading. It certainly is interesting, and led to my own reading more on the period. It's fascinating.
Chris from Illinois on April 05, 2011:
I enjoy reading pieces from this time period and think you did a great job with your review.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on April 01, 2011:
OK, I will. Thanks Lady G.
Debra Allen from West By God on April 01, 2011:
Merlin is another good movie and so is Arthur. There are several other books about Arthur too. Check out the Druids and my other hub about Avalon and Jesus.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on April 01, 2011:
Hi Lady Guinevere,
Thanks for the correction! I actually was experiencing some confusion and thinking Lancelot was called Galahad while on Avalon, but Lancelot when at Camelot. So that clears up one point. It does certainly seem that your namesake was very beautiful. I felt sorry for her in "Mists" because she was so afraid to go far from her home. Especially if she already was betrothed to another man she really loved. Who wants to be "given" away to some stranger whose always out fighting wars anyway! What other account of the story would you recommend? I'm hooked now, and it does seem to be at least somewhat true.
Debra Allen from West By God on April 01, 2011:
One correction.. Galahad was Lancelot's younger brother by about 9 years.
They did find a grave of supposedly Arthur and two ladies buried on top of his grave. One was blond and I don't remember what the other one was. They try to hush it, just as in those days the truth is hidden for control purposes of the people.
I have other books on Arthur and Camelot and there are slight difference in each version.
Guinevere, in one story, was betrothed to another man before Arthur got his eye on her. She was said to have been so beautiful that he just HAD to have her no matter if she was married, betrothed or what.
I do think all this is true. Just take a look at some of the other kings and places mentioned in the Arthur tales--they are real people and real places.
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on April 01, 2011:
Thanks for reading! It must be great to have seen some of the spots. I came to the book in a roundabout way. I did a hub on the round, Femnist inspired Mothepeace tarot, and then read so much about the two women authors who made the deck and were anthropologists and therapists, who had written books about women's views. One went on a sabbatical to the Tor and Glastonbury area, and she viewed it as very healing. So one hub sometimes leads to others! They are Vikki Noble and Karen Vogel, and as you say, British history would have been much different. They believe women lived in peaceful societies along with men but were more powerful, and then all wars started when the societies got more patriarchal and Christian. It's interesting stuff.
julie58 from Fareham, UK on April 01, 2011:
I read this book some time ago, as I am an avid historical novel reader! I'm lucky enough to have visited many of the spots rumoured to be linked to Arthur, such as Tintagel, Winchester and Dozmary Pool in Bodmin, where Excalibur is said to rest.
Some historians still ponder on whether Arthur and his court actually existed - I certainly think he did and how different would our British heritage be if he hadn't!!
Great hub about a great book :)
Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on March 31, 2011:
Thanks for reading. I could swear I watched a mini series about King Arthur about 10 yrs ago, but now I'm seaching for it because I'm really hooked. I identified more with Morgaine's character, since I love tarot and have psychic experiences, I loved the way you had to have "The Sight" to be able to summon the barge to Avalon. If you like the topic, Lady Gwenivere writes really good hubs about that, plus other stuff. You would like her. I used the Irish spellings of the names in my hub because the book did, but it drove me crazy every time I had to call Lancelot, Lancelet. I felt sorry for Gwen, can you imagine being sent off to some strange country to marry a stranger? I think Arthur tried to be sensitive, well, you know what happened with the 3 of them, I can't be sure how pure his motives were. Arthur loved Lancelot too.
Fay Paxton on March 31, 2011:
Jean, I love everything about this enchanting era. I just watched a modernized version of King Arthur. I'm afraid I enjoy the tights and ostentation a lot more. The "Mists of Avalon" sounds like my kind of book.