November 2, 2011
Review: "The Firebrand" by Marion Zimmer Bradley
While the novel is clearly intended to be read for its fantasy entertainment value, there is also the intriguing thread of cultural anthropology woven throughout that causes the reader to at least consider the differences between the matriarchal societies of some earlier Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures and the inexorable establishment of the more widespread patriarchal system in the Bronze and Iron Ages. For example, she explores this in a social context through the roles of Priam, Hecuba, and even the Amazon leader, Penthesilea; as well as through the role that religion and religious beliefs played with the Trojans, Achaeans, and other tribes and peoples encountered in the novel. It might be easy to just attribute this to Zimmer Bradley's brand of literary feminism, but I personally choose to think that she is really trying to remind us of the Myth of the Goddess, and that the balance of female and male in our own psyche is important even now. Zimmer Bradley's portrayal of Kassandra in telling this story is compelling and thought-provoking. Frankly, I enjoyed this novel even more than her wildly popular The Mists of Avalon. This was a well-written story and a real page-turner from start-to-finish. I have given this novel 4/5 stars.
By Marion Zimmer Bradley
Simon & Schuster, 1987, 608 pages.
[This book is from my personal collection]