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Firebird Trilogy, by Kathy Tyers
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 6/7/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Firebird Trilogy, by Kathy Tyers

Book Review by Sean T.M. Stiennon

Have you read this book?

As the title would imply, Firebird: A Trilogy combines three books that were originally published in separate volumes as Firebird, Fusion Fire, and Crown of Fire. This volume, published by the Christian house Bethany books, is a daunting brick of paper.

It tells the story of Lady Firebird Angelo, a third child of the royal family, who is condemned to die by laws of her homeworld, Netaia. All third children, or wastlings, must die once the line of succession is established to make sure that they don't try to seize power later on. Voluntary death is the only honorable option open to Firebird.

However, despite her attempts to sacrifice herself in battle against a neighboring world, she is captured by Federate forces and meets Brennen Caldwell, a powerful psychic who finds himself strongly attracted to her-psychics forge a deep link with their spouse when they marry, and Firebird's mind is perfectly connatural with his. Gradually, Firebird questions her loyalty to Netaia, her determination to die, and her faith in the Powers, the deified attributes such as Pride, Excellence, and Indomitability worshiped by the Netaians. Her trust in her homeworld is further shaken when she witnesses horrific war crimes being committed against the world where she is being held. On top of that, she finds herself falling in love with Brennen Caldwell, and increasingly attracted to his faith in a mysterious, all-powerful, and all-loving God. Soon, she becomes an open traitor to her oppressive homeworld by renouncing her death orders and accepting Federate citizenship. However, trouble still brews on Netaia, especially after Federate forces occupy it in retaliation for its unjust invasions of other systems.

The trilogy has four basic plot threads: Firebird's romance with Brennen, both before and after marriage, conflicts between herself and her homeworld, her conversion to Brennen's monotheistic faith, and the conflict between the virtuous Sentinels and the Shuhr, a group of rogue psychics of the same origin who use their powers for unbridled evil. The first book doesn't have anything about the Shuhr, and focuses on Netaia, while the second book focuses on the Shuhr and has relatively little to do with Netaia. The third book satisfyingly interconnects and resolves both elements.

The other two, romance and religion, pervade all three. I actually enjoyed the romantic side of it quite a bit-both characters were likeable, and their relationship was always endearing. It was also nice to see the romance continuing into marriage and beyond, and not without trial.

The religious aspect of the trilogy was actually the thread which I most disliked, although I'm an orthodox Catholic-actually, that could be why, because I disagreed with many of the ideas put forward. Although the books seem to present the Sentinels as being something like Jews, (exiled from their homeworld and awaiting a Messiah) the religion itself seemed to be more Protestant than Jewish-they have two holy books, one older and one newer, they have similar notions about God, they believe in the Trinity, unlike Jews, and much more. The religious bits, including Firebird's conversion experiences, tended to be fairly preachy, although not as bad as those in some other Christian fiction I've read. Also, the religion struck me as having a lot of emotion and very little reason. It takes a vision to convert Firebird, in the end-she can't be swayed by the merits of the faith itself. At a couple times when the characters are faced with a difficult decision, a vision clears everything up. That doesn't happen to most people, even most devout Christians, and one shouldn't rely on miracles to inspire belief.

That said, Firebird Trilogy is well-written and reasonably entertaining. The characters are endearing, and the author's use of psychics-their techniques, their culture, and their failings-was fascinating, particularly when she shows how the Shuhr differ from their virtuous cousins. The plot was actually very suspenseful at times, and the villains were suitably nasty. Even the religious and moral aspects were pleasant when they weren't preachy.

Overall, I'd recommend Firebird to any Christian or non-Christian reader who wants to try a fairly well-written-and reasonably interesting-science fiction book with Christian themes.


Sean T. M. Stiennon is currently a staff book reviewer for Deep Magic: The E-zine of High Fantasy and Science Fiction. His fiction has been published both online and in print, and his first short story collection, entitled Six with Flinteye, will be released on July 1, 2005 from Silver Lake Publishing. Visit his author page at
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