firebrand“It seemed to Kassandra that hundreds of stars had fallen; but looking into the light-sprinkled heavens overhead, she saw quite as many as ever.  Perhaps, she thought, new stars grow when these fall.” – p 130

Marion Zimmer Bradley has taken on a different myth with this book.  She’s moved from her normal home of Avalon and the British Isles to the ancient city of Troy.  This book focuses on the Princess Cassandra (in the novel spelled “Kassandra”) – daughter of the Amazon Hecuba and King Priam.  In mythology, Kassandra was crazy – prophesying doom at every corner, with no one ever believing her.  Bradley has chosen to look at this a different way – her usual feminist/goddess worshipping way.  Kassandra’s mother has raised her to worship Apollo, god of Troy.  But when she is sent away with her Amazon kin to avoid her constant attacks of prescience disturbing those around her, Kassandra is introduced to the goddess of the Amazons.  From that time onward, Kassandra is fought over by Apollo and the goddess, each claiming her as their own.  Kassandra is caught in the middle, trapped in the doomed city of Troy, forced to watch her horrific prophetic visions coming true.
Of course, if you’re a fan of Bradley, you’ll probably enjoy this book.  I was mildly interested to see how she would take on a mythology completely different from her usual style.  This book was terribly hard to get in to, as I was dreading the wildly feminist references to the goddess just a bit.  But once I was invested in Kassandra, I came to appreciate the different perspective that Bradley presented.  It’s very tough to read mythology at times, knowing that some of these characters are real and are pigeonholed into whatever author has placed them – Helen the proud and cold beauty, Kassandra the insane priestess, Agammemnon the ruthless tyrant, Oenone the heartless nymph.  While Bradley may not say anything astounding or groundbreaking concerning these familiar characters, what she does say is interesting enough to warrant reading the story.
“Firebrand” was written by Marion Zimmer Bradley and published in 1987.
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