Priestess of Avalon
Viking, May, 2001.
Hardcover, 394 pages.
Priestess of Avalon follows the life of Eilan, from her childhood as a princess, through her training as a priestess of Avalon, to her days as consort to the Roman Emperor Constantius and her reign as Empress-Mother of the Emperor Constantine. Eilan lives through a crucial turning point in Western history: Christianity is slowly replacing the pagan religions of old, and there is much war and bloodshed as rulers and religious leaders jockey for position and power. The story really begins in AD 262, when young British princess Eilan has settled into her life on the mysterious island of Avalon, where the Lady of Avalon leads the druidic priestesses in their duties and their training. Eilan defies the Lady of Avalon and substitutes herself for her sister priestess as the offering to the Roman warrior, Constantius, who has a great destiny before him. Eilan will experience great passion, heartache and a profound spiritual evolution over the course of her long, full life.
Priestess of Avalon is an amazing and enthralling book. It is a prequel to the bestselling Mists of Avalon, which retold the Arthurian legend from a feminist point of view. The great Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxson began work on Priestess of Avalon before Bradley's death in 1999, and Paxson finished the work. The result is true to the style and tone of Bradley's other works. Diana Paxson is a very talented author in her own right (See, The Hallowed Isle) and excels at taking historical figures and bringing them to vibrant life. Priestess of Avalon gives an absolutely riveting eye view of the turbulent history of Emperor Constantine's reign, as well an intriguing look at the Druidic religion. The ecumenical approach towards the different religions should strike a chord with modern readers who may have more tolerance for other religions than did most during the turbulent days of early Christianity. With magic, deep and layered characters and a sweeping narrative, Priestess of Avalon is sure to delight Bradley's many fans, and make many new ones for the talented Diana Paxson.
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This review was published in the June, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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