Fiction Reviews


(2017) Kirsten Britain, Gollancz, £16.99, trdpbk, 801pp, ISBN 978-0-575-09972-2


Firebrand by Kirsten Britain continues the story of Karigan G'ladheon, the Green Rider (see Mirror Sight), as she tries to come to terms with life following her previous adventures and needless to say, gets sent on another mission, which does not go quite as planned.

Despite this being one book in a series, you do not need to have read the previous ones to read and enjoy this one and it gives the character a realistic feel of history, rather than one which only sprang into life at page one of the novel. The story does follow on from others and despite this being presented as the final part in the second trilogy, there are enough loose ends and ongoing stories that it is easy to see that another book could be forthcoming.

The style is heroic high fantasy, the sides firmly fixed between good and evil. Quests and adventures are the order of the day, if that is what you are looking for, you won't be disappointed.

Britain increases the readerís empathy for the characters by the feelings that they have for other characters, drawing you into a web of caring for each. We start with the main viewpoint character of Karigan and we are introduced to new characters through her eyes and our view of them is filtered through her emotions, which means that if the reader empathises with Karigan, they care about the other characters (who she cares about), after only a brief introduction. So, deftly, the reader finds themselves wanting to know about Kariganís best friend, her father, her green rider colleagues as well as the king.

The book title Firebrand is the Eletian name for King Zachary of Secordia, he plays a much larger role in this novel than others, although Karigan remains the primary protagonist.

We meet some of the Eletians, who are an interesting people, and we find out more about their culture. Initially, they seem to be an unemotional race as a whole, but we find out that this is not always the case and even hinted that perhaps the outward coolness is a cultural conditioning rather than a lack of emotion.

There are some dark themes in the book, the expected sword and magic based violence, but also kidnapping and torture. The detail is given, rather than glossed over, without dwelling unnecessarily. The events do, however, have an ongoing impact on the characters, which is good as without that impact there is no consequence to these actions.

Themes of love and romance pervade the novel, but it would not be a love story as such and, not to give too much away but don't expect a happy ending when love triangles, lost and unrequited loves and lust abound.

The book itself is somewhat of a weighty tome, but the action moves at a reasonable pace, not so fast that you lose the character development, but not so slow that the plot drags. The main characters are likeable, with flaws and errors that keep them human, but do not put off the reader. All in all, it is an excellent read.

Karen Fishwick

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