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Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan & Isolde (Twilight of Avalon Trilogy)
by Anna Elliott

Published: 2009-05-05
Paperback : 448 pages
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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 ...

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Introduction

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.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

The dead man's eyes were weighted with gold. From the chapel doorway, Isolde saw the coins wink and gleam in the light of the candles that burned on the altar above. Payment for the holy women who would ferry him across the waters to the Isle of Glass. Or perhaps only a means to keep the sightless eyes closed; this was a church, consecrated to the Christ-God, after all. The old ways would have no place here. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. In the prologue Morgan says, "If a soul lives with each mention of its name, I will be forever young and beautiful as the Morgan in tales" (page 5). How can storytelling keep a person alive?

2. Throughout the novel various men offer Isolde protection. What protection can a man offer her physically? Politically? Do you think she needs a man to protect her?

3. The story takes place during the early years of Christianity in Europe. How did this affect the action of the story? Where do you think Isolde stands in terms of religious beliefs? How do you think the emerging Christianity contributed to the fear that she was a witch?

4. From the moment Con dies all of the men begin treating Isolde differently. Does her role as queen offer her any protection? At what times does her life seem to have worth? When does she seem disposable?

5. The phrase "The stars will still shine tomorrow, whatever happens to me here" is repeated throughout the story. How did this phrase help Isolde find hope? What do you think it means? How did learning who originally said it to her change its meaning for you?

6. Isolde says that "No man is evil to himself, he will always find reason enough to justify his acts, at least in his own mind" (page 136). How did men in this novel seem to justify their acts? Do you agree with Isolde's statement above?

7. After Dera loses her baby Isolde recommends that she "listen to the pain. It will never go away. But listen to it, and it dulls enough that you can keep living, after a time" (page 197). How could Isolde benefit from taking her own advice? Have you found that paying attention to emotional pain helps to diminish it? What result can come from masking or ignoring the pain?

8. Isolde is widely believed to be a sorceress and has even been dubbed the "Witch Queen." Does she use the speculation to her advantage? Kian says "Maybe there's all kinds of witches in this world" (page 355). What kind of witch do you consider Isolde?

9. During a conversation with Arthur, Myrddin wonders, "is fate what lies within a man? Or is his character written by his fate?" (page 344). How do you think the various characters in Twilight of Avalon would answer this question?

Enhance Your Book Club

Read more about the enduring legend of Trystan and Isolde: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristan_and_Iseult

Visit www.EarlyBritishKingdoms.com for a more well-rounded understanding of the setting for the novel. The author credits the site in her Acknowledgments section!

Have a movie night with your book club and watch the 2006 film Tristan and Isolde. Which actors would you cast to play Trystan and Isolde if Twilight of Avalon were made into a film?

Isolde is skilled at using herbs to help treat the sick and injured. Do you know of any home remedies or natural cures you can share with the group?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

A note from the author:

In early spring of 2006, I was four months pregnant with my first daughter. I'd been writing and trying to get published for a few years, always coming close but never selling a book. And I remember thinking that maybe my career as an author wasn't ever going to be. I was going to be a mother and had my daughter to think about, after all.

But at the same time, I did have my daughter to think about. Even though she wasn't born yet. I had to ask myself what I wanted my daughter to learn from me, to take from the example I set by my own life. That if your goal doesn't come true easily or right away you just give up on it? Of course not.

And then I had a dream. An exceptionally vivid dream in which I was telling my mother about a plan to write a novel about the daughter of Mordred, great villain of the cycle of King Arthur tales. Over the next two years, that dream became the basis for the Twilight of Avalon trilogy, which returns to the earliest roots of the King Arthur and Trystan and Isolde legends to shape a story of powerful love, magic, and one woman's determination to fight for her own survival and the survival of Britain itself. As I was writing, I was constantly inspired by Isolde's courage and compassion, and it's my hope that readers will find her story as compelling to read as I did to tell.

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