The Parting of the Mists

The Parting of the MistIíve always loved to read.† I was reading between three and four-years-old.† My mom used to have to read story after story to me to get me to sleep.† Sheíd try to skip pages, but I always stopped her and made her read every word until one day, in a fit of utter exhaustion Iím sure, she handed me the book and said, ďFine, you read it to me then.Ē† I did.

Since then, thereís never been a book very far from me.† I either have a book in my hand or one within easy reach.† I donít feel complete unless I have something to read.† Reading is an escape for me; a chance to explore new worlds and become someone Iím not.† For that very reason, my favorite genres are horror and fantasy.

There are many women writers in those fields that are influential to me.† I remember reading Dragonsdawn and other books in the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey when I was a young girl.† I wanted to soar through the skies and communicate telepathically with my dragon. More recently, Kelley Armstrong stepped up as my favorite writer with her Tales of the Otherworld series and her strong female characters.

But neither of these writers are the MOST influential female writer for me.† You see, when I was younger, I donít remember ever really paying attention to who the author of a book was.† It didnít matter to me whether they were male or female as long as they could tell a good tale.† If I could get lost in it, then it was gold.† I didnít mind if the main character was male because I would almost always be able to make myself the lead character.† That changed somewhat when I read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Iíve always loved tales of King Arthur and Camelot.† Something about those tales appeals to both the doomed incurable romantic in me and my love of fantasy.† But those tales are almost always from the male perspective.† Morgana is painted as an evil sorceress and Gwenevere as an adulteress ninny.

Maybe it was the place where I was in my life that made this book so pivotal for me.† I was seventeen and searching for myself.† I had already had issues with the church and Bible about God and women.† I was trying to find a place for myself in my head and form my own beliefs, apart from my parents and the churchís, about who I was to God.

The Mists of Avalon is actually written from the viewpoint of Morgaine (Morgana) and revolves around all the major female characters in the Arthurian legends.† This was the first book I read that was a different viewpoint on a familiar story.† I was amazed to see through the eyes of these women and it was such an enlightening experience for me.† Iíve read this book so many times since then that itís hard to capture my first feelings, but I do remember thinking it would have been interesting to see through Eveís eyes.

This book unlocked an entire world for me.† I realized I liked books with strong female protagonists, but more than that, it opened up my viewpoint.† Iíve never been one to judge other people on their beliefs, but this book brought that home to me.† I believe the way I believe, but that doesnít make it the only belief out there.† I donít condemn others on their beliefs when they are different than my own.

Now, if youíve only seen the movie version of The Mists of Avalon, my words will mean nothing to you. In my opinion, they absolutely butchered it.† The producers/writers/whoever robbed the female characters of the raw power they had in the book. They took away the entire point of the book and turned it into just another movie about King Arthur. The disappointment I felt when I saw the movie was a palpable wound in my heart.† The women were just as they had always been and you couldnít see through their eyes.† I think it dimmed Marion Zimmer Bradleyís vision and took the heart out of the book.

I want to thank you, Marion Zimmer Bradley, in whatever world lies beyond our own, for helping to part the mists for me.† Every time I read The Mists of Avalon, I get some of those first feelings of awareness and excitement to discover who I was meant to be.† I hope that I can bring those feelings to someone else in my writing as well.

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