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Fires of the Faithful (Bantam Spectra Book) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reprint edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553585177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553585179
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Typical fantasy books require some getting used to before one is firmly hooked, but this far-from-typical fantasy from first-time author Kritzer is like chocolate cake: instant addiction. Kritzer's clever use of familiar-feeling things-people and place names that sound Italian, though they are not, and a castles-and-kings setting that similarly evokes old-world Europe in the era of murderous Borgias and witch-hunting Savonarolas-enables readers to effortlessly fall into the medieval Italianate world of teenage violinist Eliana. Cloistered in a monastery-like music conservatory, the prodigy is protected from an outside world torn by wars, famine, religious fanaticism and the deadly misuse of magic. Then an outwardly small event, the introduction of a new song that's not what it seems, catalyzes the kidnapping of her new roommate/best friend (who also may not be what she seems) and the brutal public killing of another schoolmate by "good guys" (who definitely aren't), forcing Eliana's fast flight and equally rapid transformation from sheltered court-musician-in-training into, quite possibly, the rebel savior of her doomed world. To the reader's delight, unresolved plot lines hint that sequels are planned; with habit-forming books like this, you can't read just one.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In the world of her first novel, a Catholic-like religion called the Old Way is persecuted by organized goddess worship enforced by a formidable religious order, the Fedeli. Taking no prisoners, the Fedeli put the fear of the goddess into people by cold-bloodedly slaughtering "offenders" for the good, of course, of their immortal souls. Young Eliana is devoted to the craft of music. She and some classmates enjoy playing Old Way compositions in secret, and Eliana soon realizes she is drawn to the old beliefs. Then she discovers that the body of ruling mages--the Circle--is responsible for the war and famine her people suffer. Outraged, she flees the conservatory after the Fedeli murder her closest friend, an Old Way follower. Arriving in her home village, she finds it destroyed by soldiers and her family murdered. Devastated, Eliana lands in a prison camp, whose inmates crave a leader, which she becomes. Her evolution from schoolgirl to general in a few weeks is a bit of a stretch, but it is also entertaining. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, though I was born in North Carolina, lived in Indiana and Houston, Texas before I turned five, and spent a year living in London when I was 13. I moved to Minnesota to attend college, and haven't left. My husband and I have two daughters and three cats. I post regularly about the daughters and occasionally about writing on my blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/naomikritzer/.

Customer Reviews

The big picture isn't much better.
not4prophet
The prose, especially the dialogue, occasionally feels a little too modern, but the story is absorbing enough that this was only a minor issue for me.
Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
Overall, it was worth the read and now I must go finish reading the second book...
"willowmyst"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stefanie "Nin" on November 19, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A brilliant first novel, "Fires of the Faithful" expertly blends a strong, uncomplicated prose with a complex yet precise and easily fathomable storyline.
The setting is an enigma; at first, it seems to be a trite imaginary Renaissance fantasy setting, complete with sorcery and an emerging scholarly class. Later on, however, one begins to realize the error as the novel begins to suggest a post-apocalyptic future in which the religious tides are turned. Gone is the patriachal religion and political regime; in its place is a goddess-centric pagan theocracy. The empire is in the midst of a war and famine, although, as one imagines was the case from the feudal peasant perspective, it is not altogether certain who is being fought or why.
The main character, Eliana, a young conservatory student, practices the violin in a relative haven from the turmoil, far from her family's village. All is going well until she gains a new friend...a mysterious girl of great talent and a penchant for playing forbidden tunes. Music which carries a simple magic of its own, and comes from the old religious rituals. The Fedeli, an Inquisition-like organization, storms the conservatory in search of anyone who practices the Old Ways. Soon Eliana is fleeing her school and the Lady's Guards even as she escapes her old shackles of religious thought.
Our protagonist has embarked on a thrilling journey through rubble and wartime tragedy, struggling to find her family and her own identity as a heretic. She emerges, finally, as a reluctant but very sympathetic (from our perspective) heroine...leader of the bedraggled practitioners of the Old Ways.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Pen Name on October 8, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
(Disclaimer: I knew Naomi in college)
The one thing about this book is that the world of the book will surprise you; assuming that any religion in the book is like any other that you know in the real world will inevitably lead you to some of the wrong conclusions. (Naomi was a religion major, and it shows) The booklist review calling one of the religions featured in the book "Catholic-like" is a bit misleading.
The characters are indeed well-developed, and the plot line proceeds as it should, but what really got me was the world that the book is set in - I don't know the author's plans for later books, (well, there is going to at the very least be a sequel to "Fires", but beyond that?) but I do hope she is able to reuse this fantasy world in other books. It's just incredible. (Or she could go invent another world just as detailed with as much care put into the religions and magic system as she put into this one; I'm not picky)
One word of caution: this is not a book for the overly squeamish. Characters die, sometimes with much violence and gore. (There's one scene near the end with the protagonist and lots of blood that I found especially pulse-quickening) Also, the main plotline is built on a huge governmental/societal conspiracy carried out by people who will kill to keep certain things secret.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Naomi Kritzer's first novel is a skillfully written story bringing together elements of paganism, christianity, magic, and a mystical ritual involoving music, dancing, and healing energy. This captivating tale of a sixteen-year-old violinist begins with scenes from her life at a rural conservatory. After several unforgivable intrusions into her personal life by the cruel enforcers of religious law, Eliana decides she can no longer live in the isolated music school.
The tale follows her transformation from an innocent, blind sighted girl whose greatest dream is to someday play for the emperor to a reluctant and finally adept leader. Captivating from the first page, this book will inspire you, and keep the pages turning late into the night.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had the pleasure of listening to Naomi read the beginning of _Fires of the Faithful_ at a convention a few months prior to the book's publication. At the time, I was quite impressed with the reading, and I was disappointed that I'd have to wait six months to hear the rest of the tale.
This book does not disappoint. The prose is elegant, and the story is compelling. Naomi Kritzer has a bright future as a fantasy writer, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "blissengine" on August 13, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Eliana is a young music student at a conservatory somewhat removed from the outside world ravaged by war and famine and dominated by a strict religious order called the Fedeli. When the Fedeli come to the conservatory and execute one of Eliana's friends for apostasy and another friend is taken by the Circle (the powerful mages who govern the land), Eliana learns of the true nature of the famine and decides to return home. Finding her past destroyed, Eliana discovers the old religious ways and ends up in a refugee camp where no one is allowed to leave. She is distracted by her attraction to another young woman in the camp, but she finds herself considered a leader as she helps organize the already-established rebel forces. Now she must overcome her own inexperience if she's to lead. "Fires of the Faithful" is an interesting fantasy focusing on a young woman coming of age in a war-torn land. There is a lot of religious discourse, as Eliana learns more about the old religious ways and compares it to the Fedeli ways, and it's rather parallel to the Christianity/paganism debate. This can be distracting for some readers, but it doesn't necessarily hinder the story's flow.
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