For centuries past the Arthurian legend has been passed down from generation to generation. Thankfully, the myriad of variations of the tale have been keeping modern day authors as busy in the retelling as the ancients bards were.
The latest version to hit bookstores is Anna Elliott's Twilight of Avalon, the first of what will eventually be a full trilogy recounting one of the earliest known versions of Arthurian legend, that of Trystan and Isolde.
For those aficionados of the genre, it seems only fair that we give you a brief sketch of Elliott's take on the Arthurian soap opera:
King Arthur is not the chivalrous ideal of courtly love here. In a fit of passion, he allegedly rapes his sister Morgan, a woman steeped in the old religion in a time when the encroaching Christian priests are quick to brand any non-converting woman a witch. The accusation usually sticks. Morgan gives birth to Arthur's son, Mordred who later, as heir to Arthur's throne, betrays his father, steals Arthur's wife Gwynefar and begets a girl-child with his step-mother. The child is named Isolde. Arthur and Mordred meet in one last epic battle for the High Kingship of Britain and end up killing each other off, leaving Britain in chaos and ripe pickings for the encroaching Saxons, while Isolde is married off to the next High King of Britain, Constantine.
And this is where Elliott's story begins. King Constantine is betrayed and murdered, leaving Isolde alone to battle charges of witchcraft, political intrigue, and a mythical past. To do so and save Britain from destruction from within, Isolde turns to a former Saxon slave, Trystan. The unlikely pair develop a tenuous friendship in a time when trust and loyalty are rare commodities in the world.
And A Reader's Respite loved every single word.
Isolde is one of the most real and heroic characters we've encountered in a long time, a woman fighting for what she believes in within the confines of her gender and time. This is not, we repeat, NOT a love story. At this point in time, there is no room for romance or love in Trystan and Isolde's world. This is a world overflowing in violence, plague and survival. Trystan and Isolde's bond is, at this point in the story, a thread of friendship and mutual respect.
And yet this is not a story of despair, it is a story of hope. A rich cast of supporting characters is the icing on the cake here, providing touches of humor just when you least expect it and sharp insights into the psyche of the time period.
"Yes, the plague year. The sign of God's wrath at the great traitor-king." Grim amusement flickered briefly about the corners of Coel's eyes. "Though I confess I've my doubts when anyone - priest or commoner - starts putting words in the Almighty's mouth. I don't know whether God made man in His image, but it's certain man has returned the favor."
Twilight of Avalon, by Anne Elliott
Whether you are a fan of the Arthurian lit or looking for a good introduction to the genre, A Reader's Respite wholeheartedly recommends Twilight of Avalon!
Now A Reader's Respite knows there must be someone out there dying to get their grubby little hands on this book. If you're interested, you know the drill: leave me a comment saying so and we'll draw a random winner to be announced next Thursday, May 28th. International peeps welcome!
Title: Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan & Isolde
Author: Anna Elliott
Date: May 5, 2009
Other cool peeps who've read this book:
Devourer of Books
All Booked Up
Historical Tapestry has a great interview with author Anna Elliott
WONDERFUL review! I am up to my ears in ARCs, but I really, really want to read this...especially now! It was one of the ones I picked out for my Mother's Day gift!ReplyDelete
This sounds like an awesome story and I would love to win it!ReplyDelete
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com
ooo sounds like a really interesting read! love to have it. ;)ReplyDelete
I'm looking forward to reading this one, even more now after seeing your review. I always get worried when the only review on Amazon is Harriet's :)ReplyDelete
But this sounds so beautiful... I want it. I've actually had my eye on this one. Great review. I think I'll buy it now.ReplyDelete
Don't enter me since I already have this book, but may I just say 'yes'. That yes is to basically everything you said, because I completely agree. The book was fantastic and I don't usually go for historical fantasy like this. I almost didn't accept it when it was offered to me. What a mistake that would have been!ReplyDelete
Oooo...my grubby little hands wants this. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Add my paws to the ones trying to grab up this one! Although not a genre I gravitate towards, you have convinced me I can ease into it with this book of twisted people! rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot comReplyDelete
Don't Enter me.. I'm reading it in like a month if I ever get caught up.. But thanks for the review! I had little idea behind the whole family tree and whew it's a wild one!ReplyDelete
Wow, this would be a totally different type of read for me...please enter me. Thanks:)ReplyDelete
Fantastic review! It looks very good. Please enter me, too!ReplyDelete
What a haunting cover. Great review, Michele. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Sounds very interesting. I'd love to win a copy. I had my fill of the Arthur / Gwenivere / Lancelot love triangle after a summer playing in the orchestra for "Camelot" and reading "The Mists of Avalon."ReplyDelete
I've seen a movie version of Tristan and Isolde, but this sounds really different and more about the mythical / destiny tone of the story.
I would love to read this one! Count me in please!ReplyDelete
Oh! Oh me! I'm interested! Awesome review!ReplyDelete
I've been so wrapped up in HP lately, I miss being a regular on the book-blogosphere. :o(
Oooh yes please Michelle! Count me in!ReplyDelete
Thanks for reviewing this book. Even if I don't win it's going on the TBR pile :-)
I haven't read any Tristan & Isolde stories before. This one sounds fascinating - especially the friendship aspect. I'd like to win this one! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for the Arthurian story. It's so sad, it's worse than a soap opera.ReplyDelete
I've never heard of this before, so thanks.
Don't you just love the cover?
oh...and forgot to mention, please do enter me.ReplyDelete
It sounds like a fantastic read! I've not read much in the way of Arthurian legends but your review has changed my mind!ReplyDelete
Wow. I'd love to read this, but am overflowing with books. No need to enter me, much as it hurts to say that.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the e-mail to us at Win a Book. Without it, I'd have never come across this!
I've posted the contest, so I hope you get more than just me excited. Somehow, I think you will.
I don't read so many Arthurian lit, but I am so very much a fan, so I would love for a chance to win this! Thank you. :DReplyDelete
dreamsongpoem at gmail dot com
Your review moved me to enter. I loved Mists of Avalon, and I think I will love Twilight of Avalon. Thank you.ReplyDelete
cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com
I'd love to read this! Thanks!ReplyDelete
I'd love to get my grubby hands on this book!ReplyDelete
jaam121388 at yahoo dot com
I love Arthurian legend books - and this sounds wonderful. I want to put my clean cool hands all over it!ReplyDelete
gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com
Oh, I really really want to read this book. Please enter me because it would be even better to have my very own free copy. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Wow! Interesting. Please count me in. Thank you!ReplyDelete
nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com
Just discovered your blog and would love to read this book. Thank you for entering me!ReplyDelete
Boy, this sounds good. I'm a sucker for anything Authurian, but this is definitely a new twist on the story. Thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
I am defintely interested! Please include me in the drawing please. Thanks.ReplyDelete
oh yeah, this looks like a good one.ReplyDelete
Man - I'm not a huge fan of Arthurian legend, but you make this sound amazing! Great review!ReplyDelete
Maybe I'll have to give it another shot!
Weird, this post never showed up in my reader. Hummmm. Anyway. Super review and this book was absolutely meant for me. If I don't manage to win one from Ms RR, I must track it down. So yes, please do enter me! BFish[dot]Reads[at]gmail[dot]comReplyDelete
This sounds interesting, actually. I liked the original Trystan and Isolde story, so it seems fitting that I would like this.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the cool giveaway. My email is arconna[at]yahoo[dot]com
Oooh, can't wait to read this!ReplyDelete
I'm fascinated with your review because part of required reading at my high school was a more original telling of 'Tristan and Isolde', in Middle High German (trust me - very lyrical and hard to understand), and the story was VERY different from what you describe here.ReplyDelete
Beautiful cover, also
I thought the movie was fabulous, I can only assume the book is 1000X better. Please enter me in the giveaway.ReplyDelete
Don't enter me -- I just finished this book. And I haven't read your review because I'll be writing one of my own. But I did see that you LOVED EVERY WORD, and so did I!ReplyDelete
I love this story and the book sounds great!ReplyDelete
I'd love a chance to win an ARC!ReplyDelete
I'd love to win this. Enter me please.ReplyDelete
I'm just starting to read historical fiction and I've been loving it so far. Please enter me to win.ReplyDelete
Between Devourer of Books's review last week, and now yours, I simply must get my eyeballs on this book! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!ReplyDelete
Would love to read this one. I love Arthurian Legends.ReplyDelete
I love Arthurian stories. Thanks for entering me.ReplyDelete
I love your review Michele! I am just dying to read this book now! ;) A few of my first "adult" books as a teen/early reader were Mists of Avalon, and the Mary Stewart's Merlin books (my grandmother snuck me the first two, and I saved my allowance and went to Half Price Books for the others.) I haven't read an Arthurian book in ages, and would love to read this one!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the great giveaway, and good luck everyone!
wbarker at hotmail.com
Oh I'd love to win, enter me pretty please!ReplyDelete
heatheranne99 at hotmail dot com
Holy crap - I am so glad I reread this review. The quote you used was the EXACT one I had picked out. You little shit, you beat me to it! Heehee! Great quote, though right!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the link. I agree with everything you said about Twilight of Avalon, and I'm waiting for the next book to come out next year.ReplyDelete
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