Select one of the keywords
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Ravens Of Avalon    by Diana L. Paxson order for
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Ravens Of Avalon
by Diana L. Paxson
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2007 (2007)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Diana L. Paxson co-wrote Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon series, and now that Bradley has passed on, Paxson is still continuing the series. This new installment, Ravens of Avalon, is the prequel to The Forest House (aka The Forests of Avalon), but can be read as a stand-alone with no prior knowledge of the series.

Britain is in upheaval as the Augustan Emperors strive to expand the Roman Empire as far as possible. The tribes have made an uneasy truce with the Romans, but as the Emperors change so do the terms. Finally, there is all-out war as the Romans try to extinguish the Druids. Rising up to fight them is an army lead by Boudica, a noble lady who studied with the Druids and is now possessed by the Morrigan, or the goddess Cathubodva, also know as the Lady of the Ravens. Helping her is her Druid mentor Lhiannon, a priestess who was told through a prophesy from a faerie that she is destined to be the High Priestess only after many struggles and in a much different world.

Although Ravens of Avalon follows Boudica's life, the reader still feels distanced from her because so much of her life is covered, causing the story to plod along. Also, at times the story jumps between Boudica and Lhiannon, so it is hard to really get close to either one of them, which in turn makes it hard to get into the story. Because of this, it reads more as a history with fantasy elements rather than a true fantasy novel. Maybe this is what Paxson intended as Boudica was a real person who did become the leader of an army against the Romans, making Ravens of Avalon more historical fiction than fantasy.

The details of the battles were more drawn-out than in any fantasy novels I have read with a female protagonist. While the battle scenes pick up the pace of the story with action, they make Ravens of Avalon feel more like a history book than a fiction novel. As I have not read the previous Avalon novels, I cannot say how true Diana L. Paxson stayed to the original style. Overall, Ravens of Avalon is well-written but rather dry for fiction.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews