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The Firebrand Paperback – 1 May 2003
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"Bradley animates...the conflicts between a culture that reveres the strength of women and one that makes them mere consorts of powerful men." -Publishers Weekly
"[Bradley] makes a strong statement about the desirability of women having control of their destinies and about the cruelties men inflict upon them." -Library Journal
About the Author
Marion Zimmer Bradley was the New York Times bestselling science fiction and fantasy author of the Avalon series, the Darkover series, and more. In addition to her novels, Mrs. Bradley edited many magazines, amateur and professional, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine. She died in 1999 and was posthumously awarded the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000.
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I always love to read stories about the heroes that are written from the women's point of view, as so few are that are not primarily romances. In the story of the seige and fall of Troy, of course (as in all sieges throughout myth and history) the suffering of women and children was awful.
However, the tone of this story is not overly bleak; Kassandra, Priestess of Apollo and former Amazon, is a strong, independent, sensual woman. She loves Aeneas, but isn't dependent on him.
I was, however, disappointed at times with the quality of the writing; I realise that the author was writing a book meant to be totally unpretentious, but sometimes she slips into the style of mass market romantic novels: - 'Andromache embraced her gently and said, "Have a care what prayers you make, Kassandra...".
While I think the potrayal of the heroes, particularly Akhilles - doesn't do them justice, it is all part of the theme of the story, which is the loss to all humanity which came from the destruction of matriarchal power and the rise of patriachal values. Despite the tantalising semi presence of the Gods throughout, Akhilles here is merely human, and very unsympathetically portrayed.
At the end of the story, as Kassandra escapes from Mycanae, she is assisted by an oddly masculine woman(as she thinks) and the absurd description of her hairy legs and muscular body had me in stitches. I couldn't tell if this comedy was intentional, but I wish there had been more of it throughout...
Generally, well worth reading.
A beautiful telling of Troy and not from the 'hero' angle for a change.