Firebrand (Rebel Angels) by Gillian Philip
|Firebrand (Rebel Angels) by Gillian Philip|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Gorgeous new fantasy series from one of Bookbag's favourite teen authors. It's all good fantasies should be: vital, charismatic characters, intensely personal stories, big, arching themes. Don't miss this one. It'll win prizes. You'll see!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: August 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
Seth lives in the land of the Sidhe, protected from the world of full-mortals by an ancient magical Veil. There's an uneasy but relatively settled peace, with only the occasional border fray to disturb their long lives. But things aren't easy for Seth - he's the unwanted second son of a Sidhe lord, his mother interested only in the corridors of power at the court of Kate NicNiven, and his father with eyes only for his older brother Conal. The inhabitants of his dun don't trust him, he's half-feral, and his only real tie is to Conal, who has taken him under his wing, and for whom Seth would gladly die.
His loyalty is soon needed too, because Kate's lust for power has made her determined to destroy the Veil and the barrier between worlds. She wants to rule the full-mortals and she'll stop at nothing to achieve it. Their father assassinated, Seth and Conal find themselves exiled through the Veil. It's the sixteenth century on the other side, a brutal time where men live in abject poverty and where witches are burned at the stake. It's not a good place to be a Sidhe...
Oh, Firebrand is a wonderful, wonderful read. It's everything fantasy should be: peopled with vital, charismatic characters; intensely personal stories, big, arching themes of power and greed, love and loyalty. And the exciting thing about it is that it's going to span five centuries - those Sidhe are long-lived for good reason, dontchaknow. This is going to make it so interesting. Each new book is going to be a wrench away from the emotional commitment - and you will make an emotional commitment - you made before, while filling you with excitement for what's to come.
Seth, the central character, got right under my skin. He's bitter and volatile, capable of great hatred and vicious violence, but also with a well of love and loyalty freely available to those who care to look deep enough to find it. Conal - the older brother, the heir, the shining, perfect one - is the fulcrum around which the plot swings, as Kate NicNiven pursues power and danger, but it's Seth who tugs your heartstrings. It's Seth you root for, and it's Seth you cry for. And this book is all about the terrible things people do to one another for the sake of a cause or ambition, so there's plenty of crying to do.
I thought Firebrand was a superb start to what looks like a stupendous series - I only needed to read the barnstorming first scene to decide that, it's a shocker! - and I'm blown away by Philip's sheer versatility. Bad Faith took us into speculative territory in a future dystopian thriller. Crossing the Line was a gritty urban redemption tale. And now we have epic fantasy too. I'm in awe.
Don't miss this one. It'll win prizes. You'll see!
My thanks to the good people at Strident for sending the book.
Fantasy fans will love this book, but they might also like to leave the supernatural world behind for a little bit and take a look at The Witching Hour by Elizabeth Laird, a beautiful and tense book that also talks about witch hunts in Scotland, this time focusing on the persecution of the Covenanters in the 1700s.
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