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The Forest House
By Marion Zimmer Bradley

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The Forest House (Avalon #2)
By Marion Zimmer Bradley
Viking Large Print Edition (1994)
ISBN: 0-670-84454-3
Genre: Fantasy

Available Editions: Standard Print - Paperback | Standard Print - Hardcover
Reviewed by Anna Dogole - April 18, 2001

The Forest House is one of the many books which Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote that revolved around the goddess religion in early Britain. As with many of her novels set in this period, it has been strongly influenced by Arthurian associated legends, such as the idea that the Druids were refugees from Atlantis. Unlike her phenomenal work, The Mists of Avalon, this is not an Arthurian based novel. Although The Forest House is actually a prequel to The Mists of Avalon, it is more of a historical piece, rather than a true fantasy. It concerns the Roman subjugation of Celtic Britain and the impact that it had politically and religiously. By extensions, it also covers how the Roman entry into the country changed the relationship between the genders in Britain - with women losing a great deal of their power and freedom.

Much to my surprise, Bradley's history was generally accurate, at least on a basic level. There were some minor inconsistencies with the historical record, but, unless you are a historian, these 'goofs' should not even be noticeable. Like most of her books, at its roots this is a love story. Eilan, who is brokenhearted when she is refused permission to marry her beloved, a half-Roman soldier by the name of Gaius, dedicates herself to the mother goddess and becomes a Druid priestess. The story revolves around their continued passions for each other, their feelings of alienation, and the responsibilities they owe to the paths that they have chosen to follow.

Bradley's characters are passionate and believable. Her writing is clear and engrossing and the story all too plausible, with just a hint of mysticism to keep the story within the realm of fantasy. I really enjoyed this book. Although I have to admit that The Mists of Avalon and The Lady of Avalon are more to my liking. This, however, is merely a personal preference on my part. I like my fantasy's to be heavy on the fantasy side, rather than the historical side. Overall, I found this to be a fine novel, one which is well suited for young and old readers alike.


Unfortunately, the large print edition of The Forest House is currently out-of-print.


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