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Literature / Avalon High

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Avalon High is a 2005 novel by Meg Cabot.

The plot follows Elaine 'Ellie' Harrison, the daughter of two professors who specialize in medieval and Arthurian studies. The family moves to Annapolis, Maryland for a year long sabbatical and Ellie begins High School at Avalon High. There she meets some of the students like Lance the jock, Jennifer the cheerleader and Will Wagner, the Big Man on Campus. Ellie begins to bond with Will and gets a crush on him despite him dating Jennifer. Slowly Ellie begins to notice major similarities between the situations at Avalon High to Arthurian Legend. Will is Arthur, Jennifer is Guinevere, Lance is Lancelot and Ellie herself is believed to be Elaine, the Lady of Shalott, a woman who committed suicide after falling in love with Lancelot. She is not the only one to know this as it is revealed her teacher Mr. Morton (aka Merlin) and Will's evil step-brother Marco (who is Mordred) are also clued into the legend. Now Ellie must try to help save Will from Marco and the powers of darkness but how can she if she is just the Lady of Shalott?

A sequel came out as 3 part Manga titled Avalon High: Coronation.

Despite being based on the Legend of King Arthur, the series isn't altogether faithful to its source. Many things had to be Bowdlerized or taken out to fit the story in the American high school setting.

Disney Channel has put out a Made-for-TV Movie version.

Not to be confused with Josh Phillips's 1999 webcomic Avalon.

This work provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Will's father doesn't win any prizes in the parenting department. He's an Education Mama to Will, wanting him to go to the military academy, and treats Marco as The Unfavorite despite the fact that he indirectly killed Marco's father via a Uriah Gambit. It also turns out that he impregnated Marco's mother and had a love-child with her that is revealed to be Will, making his treatment of Marco even worse. Will himself points this out to Marco while the latter is pointing a gun at him, that if anything Marco should be mad at the man who screwed both of their lives over. To top it all off, his father kicks him out when Will refuses to go to military school after Marco nearly killed him, and Will is much happier living with Ellie and her family.
  • Alpha Bitch: Subverted with Jennifer who comes off as this the first half of the novel. Once we get to know her she turns out to be sweeter along with a Dumb Blonde.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ellie is a nice girl who is The Heart of this year's class. In the climax when Marco is holding them at gunpoint, Ellie tells him that he should be shooting General Wagner, not Will, for his revenge. Considering General Wagner conceived a love child, indirectly killed his best friend, married his best friend's wife and ignored his stepchild, you can see why Ellie thinks this way. Will gives Ellie a look for even suggesting that Marco kill his father and Marco says he'd rather make General Wagner suffer Survivor's Guilt.
  • BFS: The sword Ellie's dad is studying, especially later in the story
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Marco is less than amused when he finds out that he and Will are half-brothers rather than step-brothers thanks to his mother Jean having an affair with the Senior Wagner. He is quite furious with his "adopted" father after learning the truth.
    • Will is just as angry, but he goes for the Tranquil Fury route. He tells his father he's not going to military academy, and moves in with Ellie when his dad kicks him out.
  • The Chooser of the One: What Ellie's role ends up being. Really, the main point of the story is all about the Chooser realizing their destiny and in turn, fulfilling their role by helping The Chosen One realize their destiny. In the first story, it is her giving Will the sword and allowing Arthur to finally triumph over Mordred. In the sequel, it's Ellie helping Will finally believe that he is Arthur and accepting it.
  • Comforting the Widow: Will's dad to Will's step-mom, after she conceived their child. Gets worse when you realize that he also pulled a Uriah Gambit and that the affair had been going for years.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Ellie's parents are Arthurian scholars and their daughter happens to be the modern counterpart of the Lady of the Lake who is dating the new King Arthur. One could argue that the coincidence is fate (the lifetime knowledge of Arthurian lore is what allows Ellie to fulfill her destiny) but it's still quite the coincidence.
  • Cool Sword: Double Subversion; The sword being studied by Ellie's father is just a boring old sword. And it's not Excalibur, but it still ends up being pretty cool.
  • Designated Villain: In-universe Ellie and Will think that it's ridiculous to assume that Marco is "evil" merely because he got a worse deal out of life. As he puts it, his step-father killed his father via Uriah Gambit, married his mother, and keeps comparing him to Will, who is The Ace. Will makes it clear that he sees Marco as his brother regardless of his father being a Jerkass.
  • Dumb Jock: Lance is not the brightest tool in the shed. Ellie says that this is why she doesn't want to be his partner.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Ellie's opinion of Elaine. Part of why Will goes by his middle name.
  • Expy: The whole point. Will is Arthur, Ellie is The Lady of the Lake, Marco is Mordred, Mr. Morton is Merlin, Lance is Lancelot, Jennifer is Guinevere, etc.
  • Foreshadowing: Ellie's love of floating and her backyard swimming pool. Also, she's from Minnesota, "The land of a thousand lakes".
  • King Arthur: Avalon High and its manga sequels are a rehashing of the King Arthur legend in modern times, placing all the reincarnations of the famous mythological figures in high school.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Jennifer cries Tears of Remorse in the girls' bathroom the day after everyone finds out that she and Lance were cheating on Will. It doesn't help that the entire school body has been judging her for hurting Will, even though he said that he wasn't hurt.
    • Will's stepmother actually biological mother Jean has this when Will goes missing, and Marco steals a gun from General Wagner's case. She calls Ellie to ask if she's seen Will, which alerts Ellie that Will is outside just as a storm is about to start.
  • No Sympathy: Will's dad is not a nice guy, but Ellie notes that he seems to care somewhat about Will's well-being. Not so much at the end of the story: Will has narrowly survived Marco trying to shoot him and Ellie, and after finding out that Jean is his biological mother and not his stepmother, Will wanted to sit down and clear the air with both of his parents. Instead of being relieved that Will wasn't shot, General Wagner kicked him out for refusing to go to military school, and Jean either could or did nothing to stop him.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Double Subverted. There's nothing special about the sword, but in Will's hands, it becomes special. Also, in order to work, Ellie/The Lady of the Lake had to give him the sword.
  • Pair the Spares: Mr. Morton attempts this with Ellie and Lance. It ends up happening with Will/Ellie and Lance/Jennifer
  • Parents as People: Will's father is an absolute Jerkass, and it's implied that his stepmother Jean is weak-willed given she doesn't protect her son Marco from her husband's emotional abuse. It especially becomes this case when Mr. Morton convinces Jean to reveal that Will is her biological child, not her stepchild, and she starts crying when Marco finds out.
  • Not exactly. In the book, according to Mr. Morton, the legend repeats every generation with the students corresponding to the characters of the tales. Though the sequel manga seems to contradict this. In the film the characters are Reincarnations according to an old prophecy.
  • Revenge by Proxy: This is why Marco wants to shoot Will with the stolen gun, rather than kill his father as Ellie suggests. He says that he wants the general to live with the guilt that his favorite child died because of him. Will tells him that's nuts because their father is their common enemy at this point.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mr. Morton for his Ship Mates, Will/Jennifer and Lance/Ellie. It backfires; Will and Jennifer break up after Marco forcibly reveal the affair that Jennifer and Lance are having, and Will admits that he's started to fall for Ellie.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Ellie arrives and is immediately attracted to Big Man on Campus, Will.
  • Spanner in the Works: Ellie herself. Mr Morton aka Merlin is trying to puppet-master everyone to a more correct version of 'destiny', Marco is trying to torpedo it. As the Expy of Elaine, the Lady of Shalott, Mr Morton sees her as a chance to subvert the Guinevere and Lancelot issue, and Marco simply sees her as a random chick of no importance. But because they both ignore her, Ellie is able to do an end-run around both of them to fulfill her duties as Lady of the Lake, at first unwittingly, and then purposefully; during the climax, her main obstacles come from the (possibly supernaturally) storm, and Will's own stubbornness. None of the players see her as a threat to their endgame until it's too late.
  • Those Two Guys: Ellie's friends Stacy and Liz
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: Ellie, the track runner, is depicted with one in the cover art and graphic novels.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Based on The Once and Future King and other Arthurian Legends, Will's girlfriend Jen cheats on him with his best friend Lance. New girl Ellie discovers this by accident and is asked to keep this a secret in order to keep Will focused on an upcoming football championship that could determine his future. Ellie and Mr. Morton draw parallels to the Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot love triangle of legend, believing this (among other things) to be a sign that Will is King Arthur reborn. Unlike Arthur, Will ends up taking the betrayal better than expected because he's already transferred his affections to Ellie. A different betrayal is what almost breaks him.
  • Unusual Pop Culture Name: Because her parents are Medieval Literature scholars, Ellie's name is mainly inspired by the poem "The Lady of Shalott", that was in turn based on the the figure from Arthurian Legend. For her part, Ellie doesn't love the fact that she was named for a character who killed herself over a man. (See Embarrassing First Name, above).
  • The Uriah Gambit: Will's father apparently pulled this so he could begin Comforting the Widow.
  • Water Is Womanly: Ellie spends almost all her time in her family's pool and this leads her (and everyone around her) to suspect that she is the reincarnation of Elaine, who killed herself in the water after being betrayed by her love. However, she is not, but she retains her link to the water - she's the Lady of the Lake, who ultimately gives Arthur the sword of Camelot and takes him home.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Discussed. Ellie is told by Mr. Morton that dark forces want to play out the old story so that Marco would kill Will. They apparently have killed Arthur's various incarnations before, despite the Order of the Bear's best efforts. Marco keeps sneering that "Elaine" is a helpless damsel so she should keep out of it and pine for Lance. Ellie says nuts to both of those proclamations; as she keeps telling Mr. Morton and Marco, she is not the Lady of Shallot, and Lance is not her type. They realize, however, that she is the Lady of the Lake's reincarnation a bit too late, and Will's true love. Ellie ends the novel pondering that the Lady of the Lake transported Arthur to Avalon when he was dying, so she doesn't know if she fulfilled their destiny or subverted it.

The movie provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: After Allie turns the prop sword she was holding into Excalibur, it becomes an exceedingly sharp blade.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: In the movie, Jennifer is portrayed by a redhead.
  • Hope Spot: After Marco decks Mordred, it looks like it's all over and everyone is safe, right? Wrong! Mordred proceeds to get his Villainous Second Wind.
  • Instant Armor: The reincarnations can revert to their original forms, which for most of them includes full plate armor.
  • Obviously Evil: If his introduction bullying Miles wasn't enough, Marco comes across as very sinister, wears all black, and has a habit of sneaking around and threatening people. It's an intentional act, and he gets much less threatening after The Reveal.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The actor who plays Will in the movie is from England. His accent shows through quite a bit.
  • Meaningful Name: Allie Pennington... sounds a lot like Arthur Pendragon.
  • Mythology Gag: Mr. Moore thinking that Allie was The Lady of The Lake instead of Arthur references her book counterpart.
  • Pimped-Out Cape: Seems very popular amongst the characters.
  • Prophecy Twist: Arthur was reborn in the modern world, but as a young girl. Surprise!
  • Red Herring: Will in the movie, as it's Ellie/Allie who's Arthur, not him.
  • Reincarnation: Unlike the book, the characters in the film appear to be direct reincarnations of their past counterparts.
    • Allie Pennington = King Arthur
    • Miles = Merlin
    • Lance = Lancelot
    • Jennifer = Guinevere
    • Mr. Moore = Mordred
    • And in a twist, Will is implied to be Sir Bedivere, Arthur's marshall and the only knight entrusted with Excalibur.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Miles to Allie... and everyone else.
  • Seers: Miles has been experiencing random glimpses of the future for while before he meets Allie. It's an obvious sign that he's Merlin's reincarnation.
  • She Is the King: Mr. Moore thought Allie might have been the Lady of the Lake, but didn't really consider that she might be King Arthur. And yet, here we are.