Twilight of Avalon
From the cover of Twilight Of Avalon:
Book One in the Twilight of Avalon Trilogy
She is a healer, a storyteller, a warrior, and a queen without a throne. In the shadow of King Arthur's Britain, one woman knows the truth that could save a kingdom from the hands of a tyrant...
Ancient grudges, old wounds, and the quest for power rule in the newly widowed Queen Isolde's court. Hardly a generation after the downfall of Camelot, Isolde grieves for her slain husband, King Constantine, a man she secretly knows to have been murdered by the scheming Lord Marche -- the man who has just assumed his title as High King. Though her skills as a healer are renowned throughout the kingdom, in the wake of Con's death, accusations of witchcraft and sorcery threaten her freedom and her ability to bring Marche to justice. Burdened by their suspicion and her own grief, Isolde must conquer the court's distrust and superstition to protect her throne and the future of Britain.
One of her few allies is Trystan, a prisoner with a lonely and troubled past. Neither Saxon nor Briton, he is unmoved by the political scheming, rumors, and accusations swirling around the fair queen. Together they escape, and as their companionship turns from friendship to love, they must find a way to prove what they know to be true -- that Marche's deceptions threaten not only their lives but the sovereignty of the British kingdom.
In Twilight of Avalon, Anna Elliott returns to the roots of the legend of Trystan and Isolde to shape a very different story -- one based in the earliest written versions of the Arthurian tales -- a captivating epic brimming with historic authenticity, sweeping romance, and the powerful magic of legend.
This is the first of the books I'm reading for the Arthurian Challenge, for which I have signed up to read between three and six books.
I've not read any of the versions of the legend of Trystan and Isolde before, even though I took a class in Arthurian literature a couple of years ago, so the characters were all new to me, although the setting was less so thanks to other books I've read.
Actually, Twilight of Avalon really reminded me of Marion Zimmer Bradley's bestselling novel The Mists of Avalon, because it is written in a similar perspective, that of the woman. I must say I liked it a lot, partly because of that. Because Bradley's book was one of the first I read on the Arthurian legend, it has rather become the one that I judge all of the others I read against.
Twilight of Avalon compares well against that baseline, although (and this is turning out to be a fairly frequent complaint for me these days) the font size and line spacing are fairly generous. Still, the book took me a couple of days to read. It wasn't absolutely gripping (I had no problems putting Twilight of Avalon down for a while and picking it back up again), but I'm looking forward to the sequel, which according to the ad in the back of the book is due out some time next spring.
Anna Elliott seems to know which details to include in order to make the time period come alive. There's not too much detail, but enough to make the characters and settings vivid in the mind's eye. Things like details relating to healing treatments, character traits, and clothing mostly. I'll be honest and admit that I'd have liked more detail, but then I find historical details on everyday life to be something I particularly enjoy reading about. I know that's not to everybody's taste though.
According to the Historical Tapestry blog (which is where I found out about the book), this is Anna Elliott's first published novel. I think she's got a very promising career in front of her with Twilight of Avalon and it's forthcoming sequels.
Definitely a good read, and if you enjoyed reading The Mists of Avalon I recommend reading this book.
Other reviews of Twilight of Avalon:
The Burton Review: Book Review: "Twilight of Avalon" by Anna Elliott and Arthurian Links To Ponder