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Birth of the Firebringer

(Firebringer #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,179 ratings  ·  147 reviews
Jan, the prince of the unicorns, is high-spirited, reckless-and the despair of his mighty father, Korr. Reluctantly, Korr allows Jan to accompany the other initiate warriors on a pilgrimage.   Soon Jan's curiosity leads him, along with his friend Dagg, and their mentor, the female warrior Tek, into the greatest dangers-deadly gryphons, sly pans, wyverns, pards, and renegad ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 23rd 2003 by Firebird (first published 1985)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,179 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Apr 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-rec-s
This was the first true fantasy story I ever read as a youngster. It was what led me to other authors, like McCaffrey, and my continued descent into UF and the entire paranormal genre.
I still have the original mass market paperback that I bought from the school's book club.
And yet... I never even knew there were sequels to it.

I think one of the things I liked about Pierce's writing, and this book in particular, the most -- was the worldbuilding. The way she took a nonhuman sentient species and
Jennifer Alvarez
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
THIS IS THE BOOK I WAS BORN TO READ! I loved every beautiful moment, word, image, and character. The writing is lavish, the imagery intense. The writer uses archaic words to great effect, creating a universe that feels foreign but familiar, new but also ancient. This story brings the world of the unicorns to life. They are graceful moondancers and bearded warriors who have been kicked out of their homeland by cunning wyverns. Intelligent pans, aggressive gryphons, and renegade unicorns also surr ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prologue, favorites
I don’t remember how this book ended up in my hands but I do remember the condition it was in, missing cover with pages torn and corners bent. I found a sleeve of plastic and gently wrapped it up, deciding the best place to store it was nestled in the stuffed animal net hanging above the top right-hand corner of my bed. High and out of reach for a younger sister that couldn’t keep her grubby paws off of anything I owned and especially treasured.

I adored this book from the second I laid eyes on i
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
. . . . I read this late in the summer of 2011 and fell in love with fantasy from that point forward. Unicorns, Griffins, all manner of magical fantastical creature just about made me moony eyeed. Clinging to the story for days afterwords is a by product of reading this wonderful novel. Good Lord, I can't say enough good about it. The narritive flows and is magical in it's own right. This a book for multi-generational readers. It's just as enjoyable to read it at age 10 as it was at age 20. ( I ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in a long time.

It starts off slow. Typical misfit prince who doesn't see things his father's way. As the story progresses there is increasingly a sense that things aren't quite what they seem. The mythology is rich, the storytelling is excellent, and the characters are real enough that you rage when they rage, or feel wonder when they feel wonder.

Earlier this week I asked a friend why I subject myself to things that inevitably leave me feeling what my generation i
Nov 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Though Meredith Ann Pierce has clearly thought through the rules under which her society of unicorns should operate, there is something about this book, the first in the Firebringer trilogy, that doesn't quite click. Readers who can slip easily into the blatant personification of the unicorn characters will likely enjoy this book, but as a reader I would probably have more enjoyed a novel that takes a further step away from writing about humans, and challenges the reader not only to empathize wi ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My Rating
5 stars

Book Series
Book 1 of the Firebringer series (3 books).

My Thoughts
I can't say much about this book because I read it so long ago. I'm giving it 5 stars because I loved it every time I read it.

Hard-core fantasy about unicorns. Not for everyone, but I loved it.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-loved-it
I thought this would read kinda childish based on the concept, but I was v pleasantly surprised by the use of language and some of the beautiful sentences. The plot was intriguing, the conflict exciting, and I am more than excited to read the rest of the series.
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book long predates such animal-based series as Warriors, and it far outshines them. It was published back in my childhood, and is a three-part series. The first is the best and most interesting read, rife with a wonderful prophecy, very accurate animal depiction, and great fantasy elements. It is set among a group of war unicorns, yet these unicorns are nothing like the white, virgin-seeking typical story we see. These unicorns are a varied, honorable, dangerous race that is in the middle o ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous writing, epic storyline, and UNICORNS. Super awesome warrior unicorns with magic and visions and prophecies and ancient mortal enemies that they sing songs about and what I'm saying is that this book is awesome and you should read it. Because unicorns. ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ok, I'll admit it. I am definitely length-biased when it comes to books. I prefer any book I read to be around three hundred pages... I am so glad that I didn't even look at how many pages this little treat had before I ordered it from the library. This was a masterpiece. She totally could have embellished the story and made a five hundred page book, just out of the first one. But this book is perfection just the way it is. We have a detailed history (one and a half pages as the prologue), a dra ...more
I wanted to like this series more than I did, because I like Pierce's Darkangel books and her short stories so much. It's about unicorns, which I was a little worried about, but I thought Pierce pulled that off pretty well, actually; her unicorns aren't pretty, fluffy things, but warriors who fight for their lives and land against other beasts, gryphons and wyverns.

I think what I mostly didn't like was the main character, Jan the unicorn prince, who was all too often (particularly in the last b
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
As a kid I bought this book for the cover - It had a unicorn, and I was horse crazy. I dove in and fell in love, though I'm sure I missed all the subtext about how Jan's journey might perhaps relate to my own young teen-aged struggles. None the less, I cherished this book, and years later read it again as an adult with new perspective. I love it even more now.

This is the kind of book all parents, uncles, aunts, anyone who mentors kids should pass on to the young readers in their lives. It is fu
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers
yes, this is a young adult book about UNICORNS...but it will always be one of my favorites as it was my very first taste of fantasy fiction, this book is the one that got me addicted to reading! And I only picked it up by accident when I was in 6th grade. (ok, so I think I might have been 21 when I stopped believing in unicorns, yes i am a dork, suck it!)
Wow. Just, wow. This book is breathtaking. The rich storytelling, fantastic world building, unforgettable characters, incredible deliverance and fascinating plot make readers unable to put this book down. You'll be flying through the pages and before you know it, you'll be finished, awed. 5 out of 5 stars, a favorite for years to come! ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another childhood favorite I will never tire of rereading. Pierce has perfected high fantasy without resorting to swordplay -- or even humans in this case. Perfect for fans of The Last Unicorn, The Princess Bride, and The Neverending Story (all of which you MUST read in novel form, they're all extraordinary). ...more
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a moving and timeless book about growing up. Reading it is one of my fondest childhood memories. Whenever a thunderstorm is rising, I think of it.
Lauren Schumacher
This weekend past, my husband Terry and I had to make a 15 hour overnight drive from Georgia back home to Massachusetts. Our chariot was a rusted-out U-Haul with no cruise control. Terry experiences motion sickness while reading in the car, and the noise of the cabin made it difficult to understand podcasts through the small speaker we'd brought with us, so he did much of the driving while I read to him over the roar of the highway. I'd set aside an anthology of short horror stories that I thoug ...more
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantasy has always been quite boring to me. I have never understood the allure some feel towards the genre, I have always seen it as the ugly-sister of folktales, mythos, and fables. It has seemed unapproachable subject unrelated to my life and experience, and unneeded additions in my bookcase that just take up space.

I am pleased to say that this book might have changed my mind, at least regarding unicorn-oriented fantasy novels.

Granted I am neither the target audience nor the expected reader of
Bri (bloodydamn_taveren)
I’m mad it’s taken me this long to find this book. I’m not sure how it stayed hidden, but I’m glad it’s finally been uncovered and wish more people to find it.

It holds the classic tale found in animal centric fantasy akin to the similarly named and more known Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies; a familiar pattern of prophecy, growth, and charm. But what this book has that others don’t is more heart woven between 200 pages of lyrical lines than I’ve seen in something as far reaching as a thousa
Jennifer Wheeler
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I KNOW I've read this book before. In fact I'm sure I've read the entire series. The title and plot synopsis was so familiar to me, but I didn't remember the storyline in any sort of detail. I must have read it when I was young.
Having said that, this book reads very maturely for YA - I find that it's written in a more classic style. So, I'm delighted to have rediscovered it. The trouble now, will be in obtaining the other 2 books in the series.
May 17, 2017 marked it as abandoned
I'm abandoning this one - the cheese is just too great. There is definitely a place for cheese in my heart but I'm just not in the mood right now (#RobinHobbBookHangover2017). I wish I had known about this book when I was 10! ...more
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It looks like I might be the first male to be reviewing this book on Goodreads. I got this in one of the Scholastic order forms in fourth or fifth grade, and it's been on my shelf ever since, but I only finished reading it today. Part of the problem was the paper and print quality, unless I just now, at 44, need reading glasses (although the fine print in Arden Shakespeare notes wasn't a struggle for me apart from the 3s and the 5s), but I'm pretty sure that was a struggle for me when I was youn ...more
Lorrae Stefan
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
The only reason I'm giving this book 2 stars instead of 1 is because I love unicorns so much. But it was such a huge disappointment. I had to struggle so hard to sit through the whole thing because it was just so dull. First thing I should mention is that this book is called "Birth of the FireBringer" but you don't even find out who the FireBringer IS until page 228/234. Secondly, the author wrote the word 'smoke' about 50 times in 2 chapters. Thirdly, the book is at least 30% of describing what ...more
Heidi Toler
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I first read this as a teen and was amazed at how immersed I could be in a story not about humans.

Reading it again as an adult I was amazed in different ways.

When we're pulled into Jan's life and struggles it feels natural and real; even though the story is about Unicorns! I thought the world building was done well and the characters had, well, character, which held up for me even as an adult.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a coming of age story that lives outside the box, a uniq
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I ADORE this book! Imagine a world of unicorns, their coats in all the colors of the rainbow: red and blue and pink and butter yellow. Now imagine that these cute blue and pink unicorns are engaged in a long-standing war! A brilliant fantasy with a prophecy, a reluctant hero, and loads of clever twists.
Sydney Rhyne
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
By far the best book in the series, BotF has been my favorite book since I was, like, 10. I picked it back up 12 years later to read it again and loved it just as much. The writing is fabulous, and reading it again as an adult was like re-discovering a treasure hoard. The second book is great, but the third one sadly falls flat.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was skeptical going into this book, and it took me the first hundred or so pages to realize that I was truly enjoying it! The language is beautiful and the characters, particularly Jan and Tek, are lovely. I liked the revelation of so many secrets at once at the end of the novel, and I look forward to seeing what the Firebringer does in the rest of the series!
Laura-Anne Wright
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally found it!

Having read this when I was 11 it was a story that always stayed with me even though I had long forgotten the title. I finally found it and am pleasantly surprised to find it was the first installment in a trilogy. It was as magical as I remembered and I am excited to read the next books in the series after all these years!
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Horned horse against serpents [s] 4 22 Jun 28, 2011 12:55PM  

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Meredith Ann Pierce is a fantasy writer and librarian. Her books deal in fantasy worlds with mythic settings and yet overturn standard expectations, frequently featuring young women who first wish only to love and be loved, yet who must face hazard and danger to save their way of life, their world, and so on, usually without being respected for their efforts until the end of the story.

Other books in the series

Firebringer (3 books)
  • Dark Moon (Firebringer, #2)
  • The Son of Summer Stars (Firebringer, #3)

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23 likes · 3 comments
“He was lost. He knew it. He had neither the size nor the strength to defeat her, and she had him cornered. But he would fight. He was a warrior, the prince-son of the unicorns, and he meant to go down fighting. There would be no songs to mark his death; and none of his people would even know. But he had saved Korr and the others of the band. It was noon — they were safe out of the hills by now, and none of the rest of it mattered.” 4 likes
“Jan could not recall ever seeing a creature more beautiful, though there nagged somewhere at the back of his mind the notion that she ought to have seemed hideous. Why? For she was pure, admirably pure, without a twinge of conscience or shame.” 3 likes
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