Marion Zimmer Bradley,
The Firebrand
(Simon & Schuster,1987; Roc, 2003)

Kassandra, the heroine of The Firebrand, has a tale to tell of the days of King Priam, Queen Hecuba and the fall of Troy. Kassandra, the royal daughter and the sister of Hector and Paris, has vivid dreams of the impending disaster that will alter history. Marion Zimmer Bradley lets events unfold in the style of an eyewitness report.

Family dynamics are everything in this royal family. There are enough smoldering fires to fuel a dozen wars. Unfortunately, there are no great generals. Troy's fate is sealed when Paris steals the wife of the Spartan, Menelaus, and the superbly trained soldiers of Agamemnon are poised to take revenge. It is not an event Priam is ready to face. Kassandra as priestess warns her father but he has no patience with her visions. Everything is in place for the tragic crash.

Will any reader be as surprised as I was to meet the aging Odysseus in these pages? Priam calls him a pirate and Paris calls him a horsethief. He acts as a go-between for the Trojans and the Spartans. His demands are outrageous, but Kassandra knows that the role of peacemaker is a thankless one. It does not matter. Troy will fall, as the gods have warned.

I thought I knew this story, but Bradley does something bold. Looking at events and people from Kassandra's eyes gives the account a poignant twist that is incredibly effective.

I recommend The Firebrand wholeheartedly. It has everything a reader needs -- color, drama and spectacle. A background in Greek mythology would be helpful, but the story stands on its own. This is a grand story in the storyteller tradition of old.

- Rambles
written by Jean Marchand
published 19 July 2003

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