Having thoroughly enjoyed Anya Seton’s Katherine, I was excited to delve into this reissue of her 1965 classic novel Avalon. I was not disappointed. This is a compelling tale of the star-crossed love between Rumon, a young prince descended from Charlemagne, and Merewyn, a willful, lonely girl who stubbornly clings to her identity as a descendant of King Arthur. As Rumon and Merewyn search for the Avalon of their dreams, their journeys, at times alone and at times together, lead them through 10th-century England, Iceland, Greenland, and newly-discovered North America.
Anya Seton has vividly and colorfully portrayed life during the tumultuous Dark Ages: the Viking raids, the power and political struggles among royalty, and the spread of Christianity around the world. She has deftly blended fact (as much as research allowed at the time she wrote the novel) and fiction, and has seamlessly woven stories of well-known historical personalities, such as Eric the Red, St. Dunstan, and Queen Alfrida, into the satisfyingly unpredictable plot.
In her afterword, Seton wrote: “At any rate, I have tried to tell an accurate story and to illuminate a shadowy corner of the past.” And so she did, quite remarkably.