“‘…Never underrate the power of intellectual curiosity, Domaris! It leads to more trouble than any other human motive! If Riveda were malicious, or deliberately cruel, he would be less dangerous! But he only serves one motive: the driving force of a powerful mind which has never really been challenged…’”
“The Fall of Atlantis” by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Fall of Atlantis is a very odd book. I’ve thought many times on how exactly I’d describe it, and that’s what I come up with every time. I’ve been slowly working through some of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s works, and I’ve liked everything I’ve read so far up until this one. The concepts, the ideas, and the world-building were exceptional, of course, but the actual writing itself failed to leave a good impression on me. Opaque in most parts and overly dramatic, I could never really feel a strong connection with any of the characters or the events that were happening to them, and, as a result, the experience was not particularly lovely.
Which is a shame, because I really did want to like this book. I like MZB and I liked the idea of it, even if I wasn’t fond of the execution. I feel that the story of these two sisters bound by the strict and mysterious religion of their ancient world is too burdened with rhetoric to be effective. Domaris and Deoris are two sisters that could not be more dissimilar; kind and gentle Domaris, the older sister, is almost like a mother to the brash and stubborn Deoris, and they are daughters born into the prestigious Priest caste of their society. Their father is one of the highest Priests, and their careers are expected to follow a similarly successful path. Of course, things are never that simple, and the sisters, especially little Deoris, find themselves tangled up in a great mess of ritual and faith that mingles with questions of sexuality, womanhood, and love. The love and motherhood aspects were so heavy-handed that it almost turned me off of those ideas, and the sexual rituals of the Grey Robe order were intriguing, but they were so vague and random that it felt entirely gratuitous.
There are a lot of really fantastic ideas in The Fall of Atlantis; of course there are. It’s Marion Zimmer Bradley. But the telling of the story and the execution of the ideas fell flat. It’s interesting, because this edition finishes off with a very brief afterward from the author, in which she contemplates the source of ideas. It feels very fitting, as The Fall of Atlantis seems like little more than a roughly conceptualized idea. Some of it all ties together, most of it doesn’t, and it’s definitely an intriguing world, but not one I felt truly immersed in or invested in. I would have liked to have been, but I was just left mystified, in a wholly unsatisfactory way, like these over-dramatic characters in this mythical saga were holding back all their secrets and had no intention of giving them up to their reader. Frustrating, disenchanting, and how very disappointing.
Books read: 27/100.