Friday, March 22, 2013

The Firebrand

1987, 1988 Pocket Books edition
Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Firebrand
Bought newish for $8.95
Very worn paperback

While there were aspects of this book I liked, mostly the visits to Colchis, I found this much weaker than Mists of Avalon.  It's from the perspective of Kassandra, although since she's psychic, we often get modified POVs from other characters, mostly her thoroughly unlikable twin Paris.  I didn't really care about the Trojan War, so that was part of the problem.  (And, yes, I've read The Odyssey, The Iliad, and The Aeniad.  I was an English major after all.)  I actually got much more enjoyment and information total in the few pages Richard Armour wrote on The Iliad in The Classics Reclassified

Kassandra was definitely a less interesting character than Morgaine, although I found some of the supporting female characters intriguing, not just the Queen of Colchis, but Helen and Andromache, so that's an improvement over Gwyn-however-she-spelled-it in Mists.  The male characters are less memorable than in Mists, except for the deeply annoying attempted-rapist Khryse.  (It's not just that he's hardly punished for attacking Kassandra, it's also that he keeps stalking her and she ends up deciding she likes him platonically.)  This would've been a C+ if he were banished early on.  Oh, and there are a lot of timeline issues, especially with Troilus's age.

This book has some of the same problems with "fate" as in Mists, although perhaps more justified in the Ancient Greek culture than the Celtic.  I will say, Kassandra, although she does kill a few men in battle, is not the headcase that Morgaine was.  Ironically considering legend, she's pretty sane, although few believe her prophecies even before Apollo curses her.

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