THE FOREST HOUSE by Marion Zimmer Bradley


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 Continuing her fictional tub-thumping on behalf of ancient goddess religions vanquished by male-dominated cults, erstwhile science-fiction author Bradley moves her campaign from the seventh- century Britain of her bestselling Mists of Avalon (1982) back to the first century, the time of Roman occupation. Here, a Druidic priestess-in-the-pod and a Roman officer fall in love--with the predictable miseries, rebellions and upheavals, intra-Druidical conflicts, and mystical communions. (Sometimes out of body, priestess-wise, is the way to go.) The handsome young Roman Gaius Marcellius (whose mother came from a native British tribe) literally stumbles into acquaintance with the family of the Druid Bendeigid, son of the Arch-Druid Ardanos when the Roman falls into a bear pit. He is rescued by Bendeigid's foster son (later, a firebrand avenger opposed to Druidic negotiation with the Romans) and Eilan, his daughter, the spitting image of her aunt Dieda (this will come in handy later). Eilan and Gaius fall in love, but marriage is immediately rejected by Druid and Roman fathers. Gaius will marry unhappily, while Eilan is taken into the ``Forest House'' of the priestess of the Great Goddess. After secretly giving birth to Gaius' son, Eilan will become High Priestess and learn for herself not only the dangerous and exhilarating possibilities of communion with the Goddess but the invasive influence of the Arch-Druid. Will Eilan find the Goddess' Way and her own? And what of that new religion, Christianity, which seems to attract Gaius' unhappy wife and a Forest House ward? An aging priestess, mentor of Eilan, narrates, tells the sad story of lovers' deaths, and takes the child Gawen (of mingled ancestry, presaging a new British people) to the vale of ``Afallon.'' With the sure touch of one at ease in sketching out mystic travels (``It can be very cold between the worlds''), Bradley writes with an unhurried pace and uncluttered staging. And there's a complete list of characters and places (then and now) and a map. Certain to circulate.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-670-84454-3
Page count: 476pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994


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