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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.

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: ''The Forest House'', ''Literature/{{Lady of Avalon}}'', and ''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.''
* AffablyEvil: Morgause usually comes off as genuinely nicer than both of her sisters and often than Morgaine or Gwen as well. Not being HolierThanThou helps a lot.
* AnachronismStew: Assuming that this story happened during the first wave of the invasions of the Angles and Saxons and the time the historical Patricius (AKA St. Patrick) was alive, it would have taken place in the 5th century. However:
** There is mention made of Moorish Spain. Muhammad (the founder of Islam) would not even be born till 597 AD. Islam was not founded till the 7th century. And Spain was not invaded by the Muslims till the 8th century!
** There is also talk about praying to Mary with a string of beads. In other words, a rosary. Which was invented by St. Dominic in the 13th century.
** The Catholic priests profess belief in witchcraft. Up until the 14th century, however, the Catholic Church actually taught that believing that human beings could have supernatural powers was itself heretical.
* AnnoyingYoungerSibling: Neither Igraine, nor Vivane has much patience for Morgause. Also Morgaine sees Arthur this way, until realizing that their mother didn't abandon her for him - she abandoned them both for Uther.
* {{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.
* 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.]]
* CallingTheOldManOut: Mordred does this to [[spoiler: Morgause after Gareth is killed.]]
* TheChessmaster: Viviane.
* ChickMagnet: Lancelot. Almost any woman (including one of his ''aunts'') who sees him, seems to lust after him.
** EvenTheGuysWantHim: And the nature of the men's admiration for him either is implied to, or explicitly stated to be homoerotic.
* 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.
* DivineParentage: While not exactly divine, the queen of the fairy folk reveals that Morgan, and assumingly all of the royal line of Avalon, are descended from the same lineage as she is.
* DoomedByCanon: those who have read the Arthurian legends know several of the characters are in for a sad fate
** SparedByAdaptation: and yet, a few characters, such as Morgause, escape their canonical fates.
* DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnMale: Preparing a LovePotion for Lancelot, Morgaine wonders if it doesn't resemble rape for Elaine, despite the fact that she asked for that elixir (since Lancelot wouldn't be able to resist sex even if Elaine changed her mind). That's correct, but she doesn't sacrifice one though to how it would resemble rape for ''Lancelot''.
* DressHitsFloor: (Miniseries version) Gwenhwyfar.
* {{Doorstopper}}: Even the paperback would make a decent doorstop or bludgeon in a pinch.
* DoubleStandard: All over the place and lampshaded with X-rays.
* 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.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Despite her back-stabbing ways, Morgause is shown to genuinely care for Igraine, Morgaine, Lot and her sons to the point where [[spoiler: Gareth's death and Mordred's subsequent abandoning of her leaves her shocked and broken.]]
* 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: Their existence is acknowledged early in the novel, though their exact desires and influence on the story are mysterious.
* FemaleMisogynist: Gwen insists that women should StayInTheKitchen, that is, while [[{{Hypocrite}} bending Arthur to her will]]. It's however implied that it's mostly her self-loathing caused by her inability of having a child, she once accuses God of hating women and shows frequently a repressed envy of Morgaine and Morgause's freedom.
* 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.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Any queen who refuses to StayInTheKitchen is seen in that way, and also the Ladies of the Lake. Gwen is looked upon unfavorably because of her affair with Lancelot, though it's probably the least harmful thing she's done.
* HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday: [[spoiler:Lancelot]] of all of people. Although he's attracted to women just fine, it's stated that he became a ladies man to prove to himself he wasn't gay after [[SituationalSexuality spending some time in the army]], he had allegedly composed a poem about love between two knights, and even his great love for [[spoiler:Gwen]] seems to be an outlet for his even greater love for her husband.
* HeManWomenHater: Gwen accuses ''[[RageAgainstHeavens the Christian God]]'' of being this.
* 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. Balin and basically any priest with a speaking role as well. Viviane sometimes fulfills this role for the other side of the conflict, and Morgaine comes to be just as bad.
* HolyIsNotSafe: [[ArcWords It is death to touch the Holy Regalia unprepared.]]
* GrandmaWhatMassiveHotnessYouHave: Morgause stays hot into her ''sixties'', and she lives in the reality, when a 20 years old woman is "not that young" and a woman in her thirties is treated like an old lady. [[spoiler:She appears to hit the wall at the end of the book. Though it might be that this particular guard just weren't into older women]].
* ImAManIcantHelpIt: The standard even between heroic characters.
* IncestIsRelative: Brace yourself.
** [[spoiler:Morgaine and Arthur]], who not only are half-siblings, but she was his mother figure in the childhood, conceive a child. [[BlueAndOrangeMorality Viviane]] sees no problem with that.
** Morgaine's love for Lancelot, who is her first cousin; and she also was his CoolBigSis a few years prior.
** [[spoiler:Arthur and Lancelot]], who are also first cousins, apparently got interested in each other during this ThreeWaySex with [[spoiler:Gwenhwyfar]]. [[spoiler:Lancelot]] in particular is confused about the nature of his feelings for [[spoiler:Arthur]].
** Lot tried to bed Morgaine, his wife's niece. Morgause tried to bed Lancelot, ''her own'' nephew. Lot and Morgause were truly BirdsOfFeather.
** Meleager's attitude toward his "dear sister" Gwen seems disturbingly predatory. It culminates with [[spoiler:him raping her]]. And we never learn whether he was her half-brother or not.
** Niniane, the last of Taliesin's daughters, sleeps with Mordred, who is ''her father's great-grandson'', and then with Arthur, Morderd's father and her father's grandson.
** The examples of IncestSubtext and "both relatives sleeping with the same person" are simply too many to count.
* InformedAttribute: We never see Gorlois treating Igraine as an equal, even before things between them go to hell.
* 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.
* KickTheDog: Morgaine's treatment of Uriens. [[spoiler: Even overlooking her affair with his son - after all, Uriens was also bedding other women, and at this point of the story the incest factor was ''really'' comparatively minor - she led two of his sons to death and then tried to kill the grieving father when he (quite correctly) blamed her.]]
* 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}}.
* LawfulStupid: Arthur, sometimes.
* 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 straight; 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 which 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.
* ManipulativeBitch: Viviane has a very no-nonsense approach to fulfilling The Goddess' will, down to [[spoiler:manipulate Morgaine and Arthur to commit incest and conceive a child out of it.]]
* 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.
* MistakenForServant: In one scene, Viviane mistakes Morgaine for a servant girl when seeing her from behind, but quickly realizes her mistake upon seeing her clothes are made of expensive materials.
* NeverMyFault: Mordred resents his biological parents because they abandoned him (despite the fact that Morgaine got him HappilyAdopted, and many other characters grew up in similar environments), and later Morgause who apparently "corrupted" him (we see them during his childhood and it appears like he is a cunning little brat whom she is trying to straighten out, ''and'' all of Morgause biological sons turned out fine), and finally it's all bad because of this damn Avalon and it's {{martiarchy}}!
* 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.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: Pretty much all of the royal characters are shown either actively participating in leading their country or fighting in war
** Though, in Morgaine's case, it's both a straight and averted case; she is active in her tasks for Avalon, but she utterly neglects her duties as Duchess of Cornwall.
* 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.
* StrongFamilyResemblance: Viviane, Morgaine, Lancelot and Mordred; Igraine, Morgause and Niniane; Uther and Arthur; Gwen, Elaine, Galahad and Nimue...
* SuetifulAllAlong: Morgaine starts as believably plain, but then she gains that Avalon's {{glamour}}, and she is so sexy with the harp, and her voyages to parallel worlds make her younger longer than her peers...
* TangledFamilyTree: Avalon looks favorably at inbreeding.
* TooDumbToLive: Yes, Gwen, just go into the lair of your violent, power-hungry alleged half-brother barely escorted. WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong.
* ToxicFriendInfluence: Gwen's constant jabbing about sin to Arthur really doesn't do anyone any good. Morgause is accused of being this to young Gwydion by the [[HolierThaThou tad judgmental]] Viviane and [[NeverMyFault Mordred himself]], but there isn't any proof. Morgaine is often accused of it as well, usually in regards to Arthur.
* TwoGuysAndAGirl: Take a guess.
* TheUnchosenOne: While Igraine is horrified after learning that she has to marry for the second time and give a birth to TheChosenOne, and Morgaine is understandably even more horrified upon learning that her "destiny" was to [[spoiler:bang her brother and produce a child]], Morgause would love to pop up some destined children and even offers Igraine to marry Uther instead of her, but is shunned.
* TheUnfavorite: Morgause, to the point that Viviane kicks her out of their TheHecateSisters assemble, counting Morgaine instead, and mentions several times, that she doesn't really trust and love her despite feeding her like her own baby. Of course, Viviane had some insight about who Morgause would become, but is hinted it's a bit of a SelfFulfillingProphecy - Morgaine (the only family member who liked Morgause) theorizes that her youngest aunt might have grown to become such an [[AmbitionIsEvil ambitious]] AttentionWhore precisely because nobody paid attention to her in her youth.
* UnholyMatrimony: Lot and Morgause get along well. Sure, they are both philandering like there is no tomorrow, but they are both cool with the other one's cheating (Lot is about the only man in the book who doesn't invoke any kind of DoubleStandard here) and out of bed they ''like'' one another best. And they act as the RulingCouple in Lothien, with Lot admitting freely that his wife is as competent ruler as he is.
* ThreeWaySex: [[spoiler:Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, and Lancelot.]]
* TwiceToldTale: While it is not strictly necessary to be familiar with Arthurian legend
* VillainProtagonist: Morgaine is usually the villain of Arthurian stories. Then in this story she appears to be a misunderstood heroine... before starting to look like a villain again, in the second half of the book.
* 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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