Clay Kallam's Reviews > Firethorn

Firethorn by Sarah Micklem
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Oct 03, 2011

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bookshelves: sf-fantasy
Read in June, 2005

Sarah Micklem’s ‘Firethorn’ (Bantam Spectra, $14, 383 pages) is a bit of a puzzler.

It is packaged like a fantasy, and begins that way. A young girl in a medieval society runs off to the forest, eats some mysterious berries and is given some minor powers. She returns to her village, and has a fling with a noble, and impulsively follows him off to war.

At this point, I thought Firethorn (for that’s her name) might wind up getting dumped by the nobleman (Sire Galan) and then go off to explore the rest of the world that Micklem has so meticulously created -- but that doesn’t happen. In fact, ‘Firethorn’, it quickly becomes clear, is basically a love story between Firethorn and Sire Galan, and the various difficulties their love presents, both to themselves and their society.

At that point, the necessity for any fantasy elements at all completely disappear. The book could have just as easily been set in 14th century England, and the same issues (of honor and caste and vengenance and violence) could have been addressed. So in the end, ‘Firethorn’ isn’t really a fantasy novel at all, but a medieval love story that’s set on another planet for no particular reason.

All that said, I liked ‘Firethorn,’ even though I’m not a major of fan of straight love stories. Firethorn is an interesting character, and Sire Galan is far from the stock romantic hero one would expect from a romance novel. There’s also a lot of blood and guts at book’s end, which has also been crafted to leave plenty of room for a sequel (or sequels). And straight love story or not, I look forward to volume two.
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