Every time I write about a book that's based on Arthurian legend I prelude it by saying how much I love Arthurian legend and Morgan le Fay and there it is again and now you know. Let's continue with me explaining that my love extends to Tudor history and I adore dressing up and going to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival each year (see photo down below). In September I went with a friend and both being literary sorts we stumbled upon the "church" that doubles as a bookstore. While looking about I thought, "oh my goodness, maybe there are some Morgan le Fay books here that I haven't come across yet." So I went hunting for one and sure enough found this. I was, of course, excited. So with book in hand, I scampered off to enjoy the joust and once I got home began reading this tale.
Apparently Le Morte D'Avalon is the third book in a trilogy but once I cracked the book open I didn't find myself lost or confused. This is a book that doesn't need to be read in order to the other books (which feature other Arthurian characters). It certainly reminded me a lot of I Am Morgan le Fay, specifically the beginning of the novel with Morgan's childhood and the running near the cliffs and the discovery of her father's death. The story was interesting and didn't feel too long or short: you had your time with Morgan and experienced her life fully. For me, that's key. I love the character and rarely want to part from her so for me to feel that my desires were fulfilled is rare. That's probably why I am constantly looking for more Morgan le Fay themed books.
I enjoy the play of words with the title. For those not in the know, Le Morte d'Arthur is probably the best known (and super old, try about 600 years old) collection of Arthurian legend known today. In many ways, Sir Thomas Malory, the author of Le Morte d'Arthur, is the father of Arthurian legend. So to play the the title based on one of the original collections of stories gave me a sense of delight that I suspect other Arthurian lovers would enjoy. (J. Robert King, author of Le Morte D'Avalon uses this play with words for his other two Arthurian books as well).
There is a lot of reference to gods and goddesses plus the Christian faith as most Arthurian legend involving Morgan le Fay seems to do. Morgan le Fay is breaking the mold as a sorceress or, in this case, a goddess in the making. Much of Arthurian legend brings to focus the appearance and eventual spread of the Christian faith in a land where more "barbaric" beliefs once reigned. At times I found it a little overwhelming and tiring to read on and on about Morgan being the "Next Eve" as King describes her. All of the various goddesses went a bit above my head as I admit that my knowledge of mythology is certainly spotty and merely focuses on a few central and random gods and goddesses. So I feel that many of the references and powers of different characters were lost on me due to that.
One issue that I found with the book which was consistent from cover to cover was that the dialogue was far too modern for my liking. Modern day phrases were often used when most tales from the Arthurian day and age was much more beautiful and poetic and certainly not shortened down to words like "won't," "I'll," and "all right." Midway through the book I was deep enough into the story and the world that King had created to ignore the modern day language but still, it's a bother and probably most consistent issue with the book.
While I still prefer The Mists of Avalon and I Am Morgan le Fay for my favorite Morgan le Fay reads, Le Morte D'Avalon wasn't half bad and I am certainly holding onto the book (which, in my mind, is the ultimate test. If I get rid of your book that means I have no intention of reading it again in the future). I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys this character but reader be warned: the use of modern language was a bother to me but that is besides the point when it comes down to the fact that there are some scenes which may make a reader uncomfortable, mainly being a gang rape which, despite that I am willing to read just about anything, even left me feeling quite uncomfortable. Still, pretty things do not always happen in books so I let it be but I realize it can be a little too vivid for some readers. Otherwise, I adored Morgan, her strength, her stubbornness, and her attachment to the children she had plus the writer's detail to such womanly events as having children.
Until next time, I leave you with this photo of me. Not exactly the time of Arthur Pendragon but still a good time nonetheless!
|Your cheerful blogger at the PA Ren Faire|