- Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Ace; Reissue edition (May 6, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451459245
- ISBN-13: 978-0451459244
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #768,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Firebrand Paperback – May 6, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
The author of The Mists of Avalon here "vividly recounts" the Trojan War. "Although these mythic figures stumble through some petty, rather too modern dialogue," PW found that "Bradley animates . . . the conflicts between a culture that reveres the strength of women and one that makes them mere consorts of powerful men."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Bradley ( The Mists of Avalon ) has combined several legends about the fall of Troy in this novel, told from the point of view of Kassandra, daughter of King Priam. After receiving the gift of prophecy from the god Apollo and then rejecting him, she was cursed when he decreed that her vision would be taken as dreams or the ravings of a madwoman. Some basic knowledge of Greek mythology would be helpful to the reader in keeping the various gods and their relationships straight. She makes a strong statement about the desirability of women having control of their own destinies and about the cruelties men inflict upon them. Literary Guild featured alternate. Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In The Firebrand, Marion Zimmer Bradley takes on the Iliad of Homer. The story is told mostly from the point of view of Kassandra, prophetess of Troy and sister to Paris, son of Priam who spirited Helen away from Sparta and became the catalyst for the 10-year-long Trojan War.
Many wonderful details make the characters, like the Amazons or the Kentaurs, amazingly human and real. Ms. Bradley has an enviable gift that makes her readers care about each and every one of her characters. At the center of the story lies a conflict, embodied in Kassandra herself, between the Earth Goddess and the newer Greek gods, like Apollo and Athena. As in the Iliad, the gods seem to meddle in everything, fathering children or bringing down plagues.
I really enjoyed this book because it puts a new spin on the old story and gives the female characters attention that they well deserve. Kassandra is a strong, consistent character, struggling with her vows of chastity to the free-worker Apollo and the Sight given to her by the Earth Goddess. For angering Apollo, Kassandra is cursed with seeing terrible things and having no one believe her. Helen, the wife Paris stole from the Spartan king Menaleus(sp?), is also well-developed as a character. She does, however, remind me strikingly of Gwenhyfar from The Mists of Avalon. Besides having the face that launched a thousand ships, Helen has the sort of strength that inspires admiration even in the unwilling. She, too, like Kassandra, is a pawn of the gods. Other strong women, like the Amazon Queen and Andromache, prove that the war was not fought by the soldiers alone.
Surprisingly scary, Akhilles(spelled scarily, too!) along with Agamemnon are Troy's, and Kassandra's, greatest enemies. Aeneas, the future founder of Rome,is a rather unlikely, but extremely likable, romantic hero. Pretty much the only nice man in the book...where Kassandra is concerned, anyway!
I will say that the plot really seemed to fragment toward the end. I liked the writing, but I felt that the storyline lacked the strength of the previous parts of the book. There are, however, a few delectable and - for readers familiar with the Iliad and the Odyssey - unexpected surprises in store.
As a sort of halting scholar of the Ancient Greek language wrestling with my first attempts at translating Homer, The Firebrand provided me with inspiration and gave me a more personal attachment to the characters, for which I am extremely grateful. It's obvious to me that Ms. Bradley is an extremely well-researched writer, who has a wonderful creative vision that makes the Iliad her own, while at the same time it remains the same wonderful story. Anyone who likes these sort of legend retellings should read this book! And then recommend it to a friend!
Unlike some male readers on this page, the feminist slant didn't bother me; there were a few speeches which seemed a tad anachronistic, yes, but these are minor, and on the whole Kassandra's perceptions seem very believable for a woman of her personality and time. One aspect of the novel which did disappoint me, however---and the reason I give the novel four stars rather than five---is the Epilogue, which unfortunately drops us down to the level of romance-novel writing. Having a new male character suddenly appear, deus ex machina-style, to walk off into the sunset with Kassandra at the very end, seems jarringly out of place. For me, the novel would have been ended much more strongly a few pages before, at the point that Kassandra is beginning her journey to Colchis. The story is over then; it really doesn't matter whether she ever arrives at Colchis or not. The point is, she is finally her own woman, and will live or die on her own terms.
But in a 560-page novel, this is a quibble. Overall "The Firebrand" is a wonderful novel, highly recommended to anyone with any interest in Greek literature or mythology. But be forewarned: the story is so engrossing that you may have to cancel prior engagements in order to finish it!