THE FIREBRAND by Marion Zimmer Bradley


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Bradley, a former science-fiction maven who graduated to best-sellerdom with the Arthurian fantasy The Mists of Avalon (1982), reaches further back into the mist in her latest effort: the story of the fall of Troy, told from the point of view of the God-touched seer Kassandra. For those rusty on their mythology, Kassandra, the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, is twin of Paris, who of course set the whole Trojan debacle in motion. Even as a girl, Kassandra is gifted and cursed by her prophetic powers, sent away from home to be fostered by the Amazon Queen Penthesilea, inducted into the order of the ancient Serpent Queen by feminist friends in Colchis; later, back in Troy, she devotes her life to the service of the Sun God Apollo. Faithful though she tries to be, she feels herself a battleground where the old female gods and the new male ones war--by night, she sleeps with the Serpent Queen's progeny, snakes; by day, she listens for Apollo. Time after time she predicts doom for Troy, though fate decrees that no one will listen. Sure enough, Paris steals Helen from Menelaus, Agamemnon mounts his attack, Hector (Kassandra's brother) is slain by Achilles, and Achilles catches it in the heel. Here, however, there are some new twists: Kassandra takes Aeneas as a lover, and after Troy's destruction she avoids death at Klytemnestra's hands by making an open avowal of her feminist feeling, thus freeing herself to journey far away with an obscure fifth-act player, Zakynthos, to found a new land where the old female gods will be put back on their pedestals once again. Despite Bradley's irrepressible imagination, the book is a prolix hodgepodge of fantasy, myth, and feminism that might please the author's fans, but won't unseat Homer.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1987
ISBN: 0451459245
Publisher: Simon & Schuster