Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Avalon by Anya Seton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Years ago I read two books by Anya Seton: Katherine and My Theodosia. I remember loving both of those and I'm currently working on my own novel set in tenth century Sweden and England. I decided to read Avalon partly as research and partly because I knew I would enjoy it. In my memory, the other two Seton novels were more powerful than this one, but that could be due to the span of years since I read them. In any case, this is a five star read.

The plot tells the story of Rumon, a French nobleman, and Merewyn, a young Cornish woman, whom we first meet as a teenager. Rumon, whose formal name is Romieux de Provence, is on his way to serve in the court of Edgar I, the current King of England. He encounters Merewyn, whose mother has just died. Rumon agrees to bring the young woman to her Aunt Merwinna, the current Abbess of Romsey Abbey.

As with Anya Seton's other novels, this is fiction based on historic fact. Many of the characters are historic figures. I believe Merewyn is fictional, but Rumon has some connection to a real character. The story also includes King Edgar I, King Edward (Edgar's son), Queen Alfrida, King Ethelred (Alfrida's son by Edgar – known as “the unready”), Dunstan (the Archbishop of Canterbury), Erik the Red, and Leif Erikson (Erik's son). The settings include England, Ireland, Greenland, and a brief stay in North America. The history of this era has conflicts and voids, but I felt that Anya Seton did an excellent job of resolving those. Avalon feels accurate in historic fact, portrayal of the hardships people faced at that time, and in the personalities of the characters, both fictional and real.

Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul

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