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[[caption-width-right:300:Holy shit, that was my ''brother''?]]

Published in 1983, ''The Mists of Avalon'' is a novel by Creator/MarionZimmerBradley. It is notable among the [[MemeticMutation many, many variants]] in [[KingArthur Arthurian legend]] due to its approach - the story is told not only through the eyes of a woman, but through the eyes of one of the biggest villains in the legends. The narrator is Morgaine (Morgan le Fay or Morgan of the Fairies), who tells Arthur's tale (and her own) against the backdrop of approaching war with Rome and the Saxons, as well as religious war as Christianity threatens to destroy Avalon and Goddess worship in Britain.

Bradley was critically lauded for taking the Arthurian saga and making the characters three-dimensional. Up to this point, women were the biggest evils in the many variants - Morgan le Fay was an evil enchantress, as was Nimue, and Guinevere generally shouldered most of the blame for her extramarital tryst with Lancelot. This book attempts to [[RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap rescue]] or [[HeelFaceTurn make the women real]], and not just one-note evil characters. In fact, none of the women mentioned in this paragraph have any wish to do harm to Camelot or Arthur.

Several books came after this, all of them prequels. Near the end of her life, Bradley began collaborating on them with Diana Paxson, who took over the series after her death. The novels which they wrote together include: ''Literature/{{Forest House}}'', ''Literature/{{Lady of Avalon}}'', and ''Literature/{{Priestess of Avalon}}''.

The main characters:

* Morgaine: Protagonist, priestess of Avalon, and half sister to Arthur. Daughter of Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, and Igraine.
* Arthur: King Arthur. Caught between oaths to the Lady of Avalon and the spread of Christianity.
* Viviane: High Priestess of Avalon and sister to Igraine and Morgause. Manipulates things behind the scenes, but does everything to try to save Avalon.
* Morgause: Sister to Igraine and Viviane. Plots to put her husband or one of her sons on the throne.

This was made into a miniseries in 2001, starring Julianna Margulies (''Series/{{ER}}'', ''Series/TheGoodWife'') as Morgaine, Creator/AnjelicaHuston (''Series/TheAddamsFamily'') as Viviane, and Joan Allen (''Film/{{Pleasantville}}'') as Morgause.
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!!This book contains examples of:

* AdaptationExpansion: Like any other variant on Arthurian legend.
* AerithAndBob: Running the gamut from familiar - Arthur - to medieval and acceptable - Lancelot, Morgaine - to alternate spellings - Gwenhwyfar - and then ''Kevin.''
* AnachronismStew: Assuming that this story happened during the time the historical Patricius (AKA St. Patrick) was alive, it would have taken place in the 5th century AD. Yet the story talks about Moorish Spain. Muhammad (the founder of Islam) would not even be born till 597 AD. Islam was not founded till the 7th century AD. And Spain was not invaded by the Muslims till the 8th century AD!
** Minor example- but the book also talks about praying to Mary with a string of beads. In other words, a rosary. Which was invented by St. Dominic in the 13th century AD!
* {{Atlantis}}: Where the priests/priestesses in Britain came from.
* AuthorFilibuster: MarionZimmerBradley is quite clear on her pro-feminist stance. She's also pretty vocal about religion.
* BeautyBrainsAndBrawn: The three sisters/maternal figures.
** Beauty: Morgause
** Brains: Viviane
** Brawn: Igraine
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: Pretty much every line out of Viviane's mouth. The entire reason for Arthur's existence.
* BeliefMakesYouStupid: Various minor characters espouse DungAges-style Christian superstitiousness throughout the story. The trope is also a big factor in the plot-shifting decisions of Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar - at various times in the story, their fanaticism drives them to do things that slowly destroy Arthur's kingdom.
* BigFun: Gareth, of the muscular and height variety, once he grows up
* BrokenPedestal: Morgaine's for Viviane [[spoiler:when she finds out she orchestrated the anonymous sexual tryst between Morgaine and her brother.]]
* BrotherSisterIncest: [[spoiler:Morgaine]] conceives a child by Arthur, a boy named Gwydion ("bright one"). [[spoiler: This is subverted somewhat in that Morgaine and Arthur did not know they were having sex with each other at the time. Morgaine hadn't seen her half-brother since he was 3, both were masked, and both were playing parts in a Sacred Marriage rite.]]
* TheChessmaster: Viviane
* TheChosenOne: Guess who. No, really! Guess!
* DawsonCasting: An extreme example, where 13-year-old Morgause at the beginning was played by Joan Allen, who was 44 and looked it.
* DeusAngstMachina: Just about everybody. Especially Morgaine, since she's the main protagonist of the story:
** [[spoiler:Like being sent away as a child from everything she knew and loved.]]
** [[spoiler:Or being manipulated into incest with her brother.]]
** [[spoiler:Even being tricked into marrying an old dude...the father of the man she was in love with, no less.]]
** And the list goes on...
* DistressedDamsel: Gwenhwyfar
* DressHitsFloor: (Miniseries version) Gwenhwyfar
* {{Doorstopper}}: Even the paperback would make a decent doorstop or bludgeon in a pinch.
* DrunkOnTheDarkSide: Mordred
* TheDutifulSon: Arthur
* ElegantClassicalMusician: Morgaine considers that there are men who lust after her when she plays the harp in Caerleon. She's ''good'' with that harp.
* EnigmaticEmpoweringEntity: The Lady of the Lake is a machiavellian politician who supports King Arthur because she believes that it will save her people.
* MrFanservice: In the miniseries, for sure: Accolon, Arthur, Lancelot
* EvilMatriarch: Morgause
* ExactWords: Gwenhwyfar tells Morgaine that there's a man of the kingdom of North Wales who's a believer in the Old religion who wishes to marry her. Morgaine believes it's Accolon, a knight she has grown affectionate for. [[spoiler: It's actually his dad King Uriens]]
* TheFairFolk: Present, and more than happy to either help after extracting a huge promise, or generally fuck things up to get what they want. Presented as powerful, manipulative, and not to be trusted.
* ForegoneConclusion: Since the entire story is, of course, based on Arthurian legend, anyone who has read them through will already know how several things will happen beforehand. even though they are told in a slightly different way
* TheHecateSisters: Although they aren't sisters, Viviane makes [[LampshadeHanging explicit reference]] to the concept of "maiden, mother and crone."
* HolierThanThou: Gwenhwyfar's general attitude against anything Avalon-related.
* HolyIsNotSafe: [[ArcWords It is death to touch the Holy Regalia unprepared.]]
* LawfulStupid: Arthur, sometimes.
* IronLady: Viviane
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Morgaine mostly gets over her crush on Lancelot and helps him to find a suitable bride
* JesusWasWayCool: Many pagans in the book comment that they don't mind Christ; their problem is with the people interpreting His words.
* KingArthur: See TheChosenOne.
* KissingCousins: Morgaine's crush on Lancelot. [[spoiler:Though they never fully seal the deal.]]
* KnightInShiningArmor: Lancelot. Could practically be a {{Trope Namer}}.
* LawOfInverseFertility: [[spoiler:Morgaine]] sleeps with Arthur once, and conceives. Gwenhwyfar does everything she can for years to conceive, down to betraying her Christianity and asking Morgaine for a magical charm, and cannot. [[spoiler:Subverted; Gwenhwyfar's infertility is not natural. Morgause had planted goons in the castle to mix contraceptive/abortion herbs into her meals.]]
* LineageComesFromTheFather: Both averted and played striaght; Arthur is considered the heir to the throne by most people through his father, but those who follow Avalon count him as king through his mother's royal blood of Avalon, a lineage whihc is traited through the mother.
* LivingMacguffin: Gwenhwyfar.
* TheLostWoods: Prince Bright Night's domain.
* LoveDodecahedron: Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, Lancelet, Morgaine, Accolon, Elaine.
* LoveMakesYouCrazy: When Arthur [[spoiler:caves to Gwenhwyfar's begging requests to forsake Avalon and exalt Christianity. Then the shit really hits the fan.]]
* MacGuffin: The Holy Grail.
* MaritalRapeLicense: Gorlois appears to believe in this, as hinted by Igraine when thinking of the early years of their marriage.
* {{Matriarchy}}: Avalon is one, run by the Lady of the Lake. The Merlin is a male authority figure in Avalon, but he also answers to the Lady.
* MerlinAndNimue: Done with unbelievable tragedy.
* PlayingAgainstType: You'd think Creator/AnjelicaHuston would play the evil sister and Joan Allen would play the good one, instead of vice versa!
* PleaseIWillDoAnything: Gwenhwyfar [[spoiler:to Morgaine when she asks her to create a fertility charm to make her conceive, despite Gwen's extreme aversion to anything Pagan or magical.]]
* RealMenLoveJesus: Gwenhwyfar basically pulls this on Arthur during a fight.
* RescueSex: Gwenhwyfar and Lancelet, after her rescue.
* ReincarnationRomance: Subverted. Viviane and Uther may have had one had they not been born a little too far apart and only met when they were both too old.
** Played straight earlier when Igraine has her epiphany that she and Uther were lovers in a previous lifetime. Uther-in-previous-incarnations got around.
* RightHandHottie: Lancelot to Arthur.
* ScrewDestiny: Igraine, Viviane and Morgaine all attempt this to some degree. None of them are successful.
* SexAsARiteOfPassage: The Sacred Marriage ritual, watch out your partner might be your sibling.
* ShownTheirWork: The characters discuss how goat's milk is easier to digest than bovine or equine milk. Modern research shows that goat's milk has very little lactose- and thus it is easier to digest by people with lactose intolerance than bovine milk.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: Gwenhwyfar, Lancelet, Morgaine, Morgause, Igraine.
* ThreeWaySex: [[spoiler:Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, and Lancelot.]]
* TwiceToldTale: While it is not strictly necessary to be familiar with Arthurian legend to enjoy the book, it makes a lot more sense if you know the basics of the legends.
* VillainProtagonist: Morgaine is usually the villain of Arthurian stories.
* TheVoiceless: Early in the book Morgaine meets Raven, a young seeress, who has taken a vow of silence and dedicated her voice to the Goddess.
* YouCantFightFate: Arthur's rise, Camelot's fall, and Avalon's secession from the world - but Viviane pretty much destroys or alienates everybody she loves trying.
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