Kerry Hennigan's Reviews > The Firebrand

The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley
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Aug 02, 11


I first read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Firebrand” many years ago, and have just finished the latest of many re-reads of this epic novel of the Trojan War.

As with her famous “Mists of Avalon” which told the story of Arthur and Camelot from the perspective of the women in the story, so too does The Firebrand cover this famous Bronze Age tale from the point of view of the principle females involved.

Most specifically this is Kassandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy and Queen Hecuba, sister of Prince Hector and twin of Paris, of whose death it is foretold he will bring about the downfall of the city.

Kassandra, too, grows into a prophetess, but it is her misfortune to be disbelieved and considered a bird of ill-omen of whom others take little notice.

For a time she goes to live and train with her kinswoman, Penthesilea, leader of the Amazons of the plains, and, on returning to Troy a strong young woman, becomes a priestess of the gold Apollo.

Kassandra herself if fated to play a vital role in the siege of Troy, but not to succumb when the city falls. But what lies for her beyond the destruction of all she holds dear, and the death of most of her loved ones, may be even worse than death itself.

I loved this novel when I first read it, and on subsequent readings found it still held me fascinated by the amount of research Bradley had worked into the well-known story as related by Homer in the Iliad and other, later, classical tales that expounded on the legend. If, on visiting Troy, I found a site that seemed too small and confined for the bold, colourful canvas of Bradley’s tale, I have since revised those views as subsequent archaeological discoveries have revealed the fabled city to be much more akin to the legends than was previously believed.

Anyone who loves historical novels, specifically those of ancient history, and especially those of Mary Renault, will love “The Firebrand”. As I said at the beginning of this review, I have re-read it many times, and will doubtless do so again.

Kerry Hennigan © August, 2011
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