It seems whenever an author dies that does not necessarily mean the end of his or her career, as there is always at least one more book to be published posthumously which the world has never seen. Marion Zimmer Bradley, who shocked the world with her retelling of the Arthurian legend from the woman’s point of view in Mists of Avalon died in 1999. Coauthored with Diana L. Paxson who finished off the novel after Bradley’s death, Priestess of Avalon is the last book in the magnificent Avalon series from its creator.
The main character is Helena and the time is the third century AD. Rome is still relatively in control of Britain, but the barbaric tribes are eating away at its frontiers and the empire is slowly but surely withdrawing its troops from the far North Country. Even though Helena has a Roman background, she inevitably ends up in Avalon and becomes a priestess, then she also is exiled from Avalon, missing it greatly and unavoidable becomes part of Avalon again.
More importantly, she gives birth to a strapping young lad she calls Constantine who becomes one of the greatest emperors of the Roman Empire, and is the authority who makes everything and everyone Christian, in direct contradiction with the very teachings of Avalon. Sadly, after the magnificent pace and excitement of Lady of Avalon (sequel to Mists of Avalon) this drops down to the dragging pace and heavy wordage of the first in the series, The Forest House. Nevertheless, there is indication in some sort of progression in Bradley’s writing, as well as providing a fresh voice with its co-author Paxson.
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Originally published on October 14th, 2002.
Originally published in the Long Beach Union.