Avalon. This name invokes thoughts of King Arthur, Merlin and everything associated with the Arthurian legend. It was the mystical island where King Arthur went to and waits for his return to the world. Out of Avalon edited by Jennifer Roberson is a new Fantasy anthology with stories revolving around the Arthurian legend. The stories vary, covering new ideas and twists in the legend. Many of them are entertaining and memorable.
“The Mooncalfe” by David Farland tells the story of Merlin’s daughter. Conceived the same night as Arthur, she lives a lonely life with her mother in a forest. She spends the earlier part of her life trying to appease her mother’s prayers to be human. This story has a sympathetic character and good ending. The author creates a strong sense of magic and place with his prose.
Few Arthurian stories deal with the death of King Arthur. “Grievous Wounds” by Laura Resnick begins with King Arthur dying from his wounds after the battle of Camlann. He is full of regrets and self pity. While he waits for death, he travels to other times and examines his life. The story has a powerful theme about facing death. Characters are realistic and interesting. It is a worthwhile story to read.
“The Secret Leaves” by Tricia Sullivan is the story of Nina and Myrddin. Nina is a young girl who gets lost in the woods. Myrddin saves her and she stays with him. He tries to teach her magic while she fights her growing love for him. It is a vivid story of quiet magic and love with an unusual ending.
One story is told from a different point of view in the King Arthur legend. “Black Dogs” by Lorelei Shannon is told by King Arthur’s faithful dog Cabal. He tells about a curse placed on Arthur during a hunt. Cabal and Arthur must solve the mystery of a demon black dog haunting a village. This story is poignant and enjoyable to read.
Judith Tarr contributes a story with “Finding the Grail.” Melisende is a bored lady of Queen Guenivere. She thinks women should be able to quest for the Grail too. Along with a male companion, she sets out on a quest for the Holy Grail. They undergo tests to find the object. Ms. Tarr provides an entertaining story with an unusual ending. The story is very descriptive and realistic.
"Avalonia" by Kristen Britain is about the spirit an ûd sense of wonder the Arthurian legend engenders in us. Anne Wilder is a biologist with little belief in anything fantastical. While visiting Glastonbury Tor, she is drawn into a world of wonder where she meets a goddess and must make a choice. The author creates a wonderful story of magic and delight fading from the world. Her character is very realistic and likable. It is a very nice story.
There are many other entertaining stories in Out of Avalon. Jennifer Roberson did a good job in her story choices. Few of the stories are disappointing. Whether you like Arthurian stories or other Fantasy, readers will find this anthology interesting. Check it out.