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Set as a distant prequel to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, Ancestors of Avalon, by Diana L. Paxson, tells the dramatic survival story of a handful of Atlantean (Atlantis) refugees, who must resettle in strange, new lands after barely escaping the destruction of their island home.
During the frantic evacuation of a doomed Atlantis, a high priestess named Tiriki is tragically separated from her beloved husband, Micail (also a high priest). Her struggle for survival takes her across the ocean to a harsh, wild land, where she and a host of other refugees must start their civilization anew. Old bonds are broken, while new ones are forged, as she and the other survivors adjust to an environment that is far different from the great, spiritual cities of their former home. In time, however, they come to learn that their sanctuary holds a mystical power and destiny of its very own.
But wait, that’s not all there is to Ancestors. Micail, the lost husband, has a voice in the book as well. Separated from his wife, not a day goes by when he doesn’t mourn for her. His fellow Atlanteans try to cheer him up, or at least distract him; but often to no avail. Soon enough though, Micail is forced to put his grief aside when a whirlwind of other trials arise, due to his comrades’ attempts to take over the new land upon which they had settled, irregardless of the fact that it was already inhabited.
Ancestors of Avalon is a little slow in the beginning, but, if you’re patient, things pick up soon enough. The story is very character driven. Though Tiriki and Micail are the most prominent individuals in the story, there also many instances, where we get to see what is going on in the lives and minds of the other survivors, such as the young temple acolytes and the shipmen who ferried them across the ocean. These other viewpoints add a sense of fullness to the story that keeps it from being just about two separated lovers.
If you’re looking for the richness of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s work, made a little bit more accessible (Paxson’s novel is much shorter than the average one written by Bradley), then Ancestors of Avalon is the book for you. Paxson has spun an engrossing tale worthy of the subtle mystery and mysticism that is associated with the Avalon and Atlantis myths.
Author: Diana Paxson