Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In general, I like what Paxon has been doing with the Avalon series. Ancestors of Avalon was an engaging read, Ravens of Avalon was visceral and moving, and in as much as Paxon's writing invariably weaves a thick spell transporting the reader through time and space, I didn't love this book as much as I have loved the past books.
While there were parts in which the writing was so vivid and compelling I forgot to breathe for entire pages, the themes common to all of the Avalon books sometimes seemed to be stronger forces than the characters or the conditions. I love that Paxon took the time to write the story of the forging of Excalibur, but perhaps a little more time would have been called for?
Many of the trials and tribulations suffered by the hero seemed to have been created solely for the purpose of adding to the list of what Mikantor endured. While elevating his standing as the classic hero archetype, they did little to further the plot or to really illuminate his character. While consistent with the theme that each new trial was a new forging of his character, juxtaposed with the heavy smithing theme of the book, it often fell flat.
Similarly, parts of the story which seemed to offer a great deal of opportunity for deep character development were often written through in the matter of a paragraph while great detail was often devoted to banalities which neither added to the tale nor helped draw the reader further into it.
As a fan of this series, of Bradley's, and of Paxon's, I feel as though this book must have been rushed to print before it was ready. I would make an allusion to the forging of iron, but alas, at this point, I am tired of them.
The imagery is powerful, and the feminist themes are still strong, both of which are hallmarks of the series. However, I feel this book could have been so much more, and at times, I was also disappointed with the shoddy editing.
Of course I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys the series, and I appreciate that one can read each of the books in the Avalon series independently, but it is not the brightest star in that constellation. That said, it is well worth reading for the smithing scenes alone.
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