The Firebrand

The Firebrand - Marion Zimmer Bradley Marion Zimmer Bradley is most famous for Mists of Avalon, which retells the legends of King Arthur through a feminist--and feminine--perspective, centering it not on Arthur or Merlin or even Guinevere but a sympathetic Morgaine. I admit I'm not much a fan of that book. I am a big Marion Zimmer Bradley fan--but on the basis of her original world, Darkover, the setting for a series of novels and short stories that are a blend of fantasy and science fiction. I thought among other things that Mists of Avalon was far too preachy--though at least I got through the entire book. I think Firebrand is even more preachy and polemical, putting the legend of Troy through the Pagan feminist/Joseph Campbell lens, with Troy as a matriarchal society in conflict with an invading, patriarchal Greece, and as you might expect, centering the story not on the usual suspects--Achilles or Hector or even Helen--but Cassandra (Kassandra in this novel). The big problem though is that of all of MZB's works that I've read this is by far the one with the most flat characterizations and the most boring. I couldn't believe I was reading Marion Zimmer Bradley at all, and this is the one work of hers out of dozens I'd read that I gave up on--stopping about half way. MZB dedicates this novel to another favorite author of mine, Mary Renault, who wrote works based on Ancient Greek myth and history such as The King Must Die based on the myths surrounding Theseus and Fire from Heaven based on the life of the historical Alexander the Great. Renault never wrote a book based on the legend of Troy, but if you're looking for really great historical fiction based on Ancient Greece, she's the gold standard. Or try the great classics by Homer or Vergil. Or Black Ships by Jo Graham, based on the legend of Aeneas, though not the equal of Homer certainly--or her inspiration Mary Renault--is truly an engrossing and well-researched novel. I'd far, far, far recommend any of the above over MZB's Firebrand.