cover image The Firebrand

The Firebrand

Marion Zimmer Bradley. Simon & Schuster, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-64177-1

In her newest historical epic, the author of the bestseller The Mists of Avalon vividly recounts the story of the Trojan War through the eyes of Kassandra, a princess of Troy blessed with ""the sight'' yet doomed by a vengeful god to be thought mad in her prophecies of destruction. On the day that her twin brother Paris brings home beautiful Helen of Sparta as a war prize, Kassandra envisions a firebrand whose rash action will set all Troy aflame. And indeed, the Greeks come fast on Paris's heels to lay siege to the city as they struggle to reclaim Helena pretext, some say, disguising Agamemnon's desire to annex Troy and all its riches. As a priestess of Apollo who rode with the Amazons in the waning days of their rule, Bradley's Kassandra is caught between the whims of warring gods and greedy mortals, forced to bear witness to the awful destinies of those she loves, but unable to change the course of any life, including her own. Although these mythic figures stumble through some petty, rather too modern dialogue, the dust of the war fairly rises off the page as Bradley animates this rich history and vivifies the conflicts between a culture that reveres the strength of women and one that makes them mere consorts of powerful men. Paperback rights to Pocket Books; Literary Guild alternate. (October 23)