The Mists of Avalon

I read this book because I was reading the comments on Jezebel and someone made the comment that this book makes reference to following the matriarchal line rather than the patriarchal line as that is the only way you can be certain to knowing the line of succession. Therefore, I thought that this would be a feminist dystopia. I was wrong, but not disappointed.

The story, briefly, is a female reinterpretation and perspective of the Arthurian Legends and Tales, following Morgaine, a druid Priestess, and her brother King Arthur, along with other familiar characters of the legends, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin etc.

It shows an interesting perspective of the movement away from pagan and druid rituals to that of Christianity and the clash in these beliefs and a movement towards a more male dominated society. It is also so much more than this, it is an in-depth engrossing long tale – and I do love a long book, where you experience the frustration and drives of the characters and while you do take sides this shifts (or it did for me) throughout the novel – each side and person depicted is just as flawed as another, and the author’s trick of taking you outside each character and allowing you to see them from another’s point of view adds to the depth and subtlety of the novel.

There were parts where it dragged though, where I felt nothing was happening and was wishing that something, anything would work out the way a character wanted it. It is said, when writing that you should throw everything you have got at a character so the reader can see what the character is really made of, but sometimes even a little win would be a good thing. The fact that you see the main characters from practically their birth to death lends it a beautiful roundness and I didn’t need to worry or wonder “What happened next?” – even though that can be the best part of a novel sometimes.

If you enjoy fantasy fiction, this is definitely a good choice and I know I will be exploring some more of this author’s writing!

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The Moth

I discovered The Moth podcast by accident. I downloaded it thinking it was something else, and I just fell in love with it very gradually and then all at once. I have a hellish commute and in the morning or after work I would look forward to listening to it as it helped me distract myself, feel better about myself and feel so much more optimistic about the future – hey, if these wonderful, amazing, introspective, heartbreaking, funny, unusual, unexpected things can happen to other people, they can happen to me too right?

So, when I discovered they were doing a book featuring the stories from The Moth, I was excited and downloaded it immediately. The first story did not disappoint, it was incredible and filled me with so much optimism, which was particularly needed after that particular day at work. I started ploughing through the stories thinking, if that is the first one, what can possibly come next?

Answer, not much. I felt that while many of the subsequent stories were fantastic, they seem to be lacking in comparison to the podcast, and also, some of the selection just weren’t good. Plus, having heard a fair few of the stories I ended up skipping a few in the book and a lot of them were in ‘The Guardian’, prior and after the release so I read some there too. I didn’t really feel as though I got much value for my money.

On a more positive note, most of the stories are excellent and really can uplift you and make your day that little bit more bearable. It does pull you into another world, and help you to experience things you might never even have imagined and generally I would recommend that you read this, even just to dip in and out of. However, it never quite reaches the lofty height of the podcast – which in itself can be a bit hit or miss – so I would recommend you just jump straight to there.