Thursday, September 10, 2009

Twilight of Avalon (Twilight of Avalon Trilogy, Book 1) by Anna Elliott

Book One in the Twilight of Avalon Trilogy

She is a healer, a storyteller, a warrior, and a queen without a throne. In the shadow of King Arthur's Britain, one woman knows the truth that could save a kingdom from the hands of a tyrant...

Ancient grudges, old wounds, and the quest for power rule in the newly widowed Queen Isolde's court. Hardly a generation after the downfall of Camelot, Isolde grieves for her slain husband, King Constantine, a man she secretly knows to have been murdered by the scheming Lord Marche -- the man who has just assumed his title as High King. Though her skills as a healer are renowned throughout the kingdom, in the wake of Con's death, accusations of witchcraft and sorcery threaten her freedom and her ability to bring Marche to justice. Burdened by their suspicion and her own grief, Isolde must conquer the court's distrust and superstition to protect her throne and the future of Britain.

One of her few allies is Trystan, a prisoner with a lonely and troubled past. Neither Saxon nor Briton, he is unmoved by the political scheming, rumors, and accusations swirling around the fair queen. Together they escape, and as their companionship turns from friendship to love, they must find a way to prove what they know to be true -- that Marche's deceptions threaten not only their lives but the sovereignty of the British kingdom.

In Twilight of Avalon, Anna Elliott returns to the roots of the legend of Trystan and Isolde to shape a very different story -- one based in the earliest written versions of the Arthurian tales -- a captivating epic brimming with historic authenticity, sweeping romance, and the powerful magic of legend.
My very first buddy review with Melissa from Book Nut.

Melissa's Questions:

1. Did you know the Tristan and Isolde story before reading this? Do you think it worked well her melding of that myth and the Arthurian legends?
- The only thing I really knew about Tristan and Isolde was from watching the movie that came out sometime in the last few years. This is the first time I have read a book where the legend showcases so heavily. One of these days I will have to give Rosalind Miles trilogy a try, but in the meantime I thought this was really well-done. For someone who loves Arthurian legends, I love how Elliott combined the two! It was done very plausibly, so I appreciated that. I can't wait to see where the second book goes.

2. Do you have a favorite character?
- My favourite character would probably be Isolde. I thought she was written really well and I felt that you got to know her quite well during the course of the book. There were other secondary characters that were really good, too, but she was my favourite. I was a bit worried about her in the beginning because you never know what an author is going to do with a female character. She could be very strong, independant character or the author could play the helpless role. Isolde fit her time period, but she also went a bit above and beyond. I look forward to her more in the future.

3. I liked Isolde's role as a healer; it was feminine but not subservient.... what did you think?
- I suppose this is sort of addressed above. I think this was a very good addition. The world needs to remember once in a while that the first doctors were women. I don't think it was subservient at all. Isolde did what had to be done and she did it well. I don't think women should be looked down on as healers because we don't look down on doctors of today. If anything, she should be admired because she worked under some very extreme circumstances and medicine was not like it is today.

4. What did you think of the "romance"?
- Obviously, anyone that knows the legend of Tristan and Isolde knows there is going to be romance. As soon as I determined which character was Tristan, it was all just a matter of time. Obviously Elliott could have left the romance out, because this is a retelling, but I didn't think she would. Everything is just starting out in this book, so not much happened. I imagine it will be developed further throughout the trilogy, but you cannot really say for sure what will happen. It depends on how closely she follows the legend.

My Questions:

5. What lead you to pick up this book? Will you be reading the rest of the trilogy?
- I had been seeing a lot of good reviews of this book around and it sounded right up my alley. I had planned to buy it, but then the author offered to send me a copy! I read it almost immediately because I love Arthurian legends and thought that combined with Tristan and Isolde would make for a good read. I plan to read book two when it comes out next year.

6. What was your favourite scene?
- The problem for me is that I read this book a while ago, so it is not as fresh in my head as it could be. I liked a lot of scenes. I liked when Tristan and Isolde met for the first time (even if the circumstances were not very good), I liked the scene in the church where Isolde is saying good bye to her husband, I enjoyed learning about Isolde's healing work and how she accomplishes it, and I liked the scenes where Tristan and Isolde are on the run together. They have a good repetoire and chemistry. I look forward to seeing where all the scenes in this book go in the next book in terms of development.

7. What do you think of the mixing of fantasy and historical fiction? Was it believable?
- I thought the book was very believable. The fantasy is more mythology than anything, but I think Elliott wove the historical fiction in very well. Nothing seemed impossible while I was reading it. The characters may not have been entirely perfect for their times, but Elliott didn't push things too far. The Arthurian legends have always pushed the norm a little bit, but not so much that you don't believe in them. I think this book could be marketed as both very easily. I have never checked the shelves at the store, though, so I am not sure what section it is normally found in.

8. What are your thoughts on the cover and the title?
- It's the title that caught my attention. If I see the word 'Avalon' I have to know what the book is about. Sometimes it has really no connection to Arthurian legends at all, but this time it turned out to be exactly what I wanted to read! I also really like the cover. I think the trilogy will look really good lined up together on my shelves provided there are not drastic changes in the future releases.

Overall, this book was really well-done! As it stands right now, it will likely make my best of list for the end of the year. I really loved it and cannot wait to read more! I also look forward to another buddy review with Melissa in the future!


  1. I liked the scene in the church, too. And now, I suppose, I'll have to go find the Tristan and Isolde movie... :-) This was fun; we ought to do it again sometime!

  2. I have this book waiting to be read. Thanks so much for posting this. It was fun to read your thoughts and it helped inch this book closer to my night stand.

  3. I've heard a lot about this one. I may have to see about picking this up.

  4. Thanks for your review, I had not heard of this particular retelling.

  5. Note to self: Must get hands on this book!!! Loved your Q&A!

  6. I'm glad you loved this one too! I agree that it was fully believable - the characters, the world, everything!

  7. I've got this one on my wishlist. I've not read a story like this in a long time and I love the story of Tristan and Isolde!


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