Many years ago, after reading The Mists of Avalon, I was desperate to find something else in the same vein by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I was happy to come across Firebrand. This is a re-imagining of the Iliad through the eyes of Kassandra, the sister of Hector and Paris. She is the ill-fated prophetess of Apollo, doomed to always tell the truth but never be believed. Kassandra is "priestess-born," beloved of Apollo but also sworn to honor and obey an older and more potent Earth Goddess. Many of the same feminist themes present in The Mists of Avalon are also explored in Firebrand. (Kassandra spends time among the Amazon tribes and is more comfortable in foreign lands where women have autonomy and strength than among the Trojans where they are subject to their warrior menfolk.) The storyline essentially follows the outline of the Fall of Troy in the Iliad, but with digressions to explore Kassandra’s development. And it’s these sidetrips that give Firebrand its soul. It’s a passionate and tragic story–how could it be otherwise?
While not exactly a literary tour-de-force (see tomorrow’s post for that), Firebrand is a compelling story that will make your heart ache for Kassandra. Having read it so long ago (and yet it, like Mists of Avalon, the story stayed with me) I was a little worried it might be a difficult book to find. But luckily, it was re-released in 2009 by Roc (with a less cheesy cover than my 1987 paperback) and so is still in print.
I’ve always been an obsessive reader. The love of books is what got me through college, kept me sane during medical school and residency, and ultimately led me to become a novelist. (...that is, love of books, lots of family support, and some luck thrown in!) This blog is intended to share my thoughts about some of the books I’ve read. Join in the conversation. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too!
I buy my books, borrow them from the library, or friends lend them to me. I also write reviews for The Historical Novels Review. Occasionally I may repost a review here (after it has appeared in print). Those books are free review copies. If I obtain a book in any other way, I'll disclose it.