Firebrand by Kristen Britain
As I mentioned in the review for Mirror Sight, and as long-time Fantasy Book Review readers will know, Kristen Britain’s ‘Green Rider’ series is one of my all-time favourite series. The beautifully-written lead character, Karigan G'ladheon, and the concept of a group of messengers on horses serving their king and queen, combined to create a series of books I simply adored.
That adoration took a hit in early 2014 when I picked up Mirror Sight and promptly put it back down again, where it remained on the shelf for four years.
You can read more about my experiences with Mirror Sight here, but the primary reason I read the book was because Firebrand, the latest in Kristen Britain’s series, was published and arrived on my doorstep earlier this year, giving me an opportunity to rethink and return to one of my favourite fantasy worlds.
The sixth book in the series, Firebrand continues the story from where we left of at the end of Mirror Sight, with Karigan struggling to reintegrate herself into her original time and crippled by emotion and heartache. What I appreciated most about this was that the author allowed us to remain here for a while, allowing Karigan’s emotional journey to play a significant enough part of the book that it was given its own time to grow and play out. Many authors don’t allow the story to sit and be still, instead pushing it from climax to climax and never allowing the characters to recover, settle, and grow.
The first third of Firebrand – while not without elements of action and intrigue – is centred at the castle and focuses primarily on Karigan’s physical and mental healing. This was my favourite part of the book, not only because I love those sorts of preparatory and character development storylines, but also because I felt the second half of the book lost some of its direction and floundered a little in authorial contrivance.
Now, to be fair, I am more than willing to admit that I am hyper-aware of what I call authorial contrivance – when you can see the hand of the author directing events to achieve a specific outcome. I’ve read far too many books by authors who have managed to hide their involvement in the story, and as such am more likely now to pick it up than I might have been a decade ago.
The second half of Firebrand was not in itself a problem – I liked the quest that was set before Karigan and the interplay of characters back at the castle. I loved the interaction between Karigan and her travelling companions, and the introduction of Anna Ash and what she represents for the Riders. The extra mythical component that Britain is bringing into the story fascinates me, and really makes me excited for what comes next.
Unfortunately, what actually took place felt very disjointed and contrived – as if the author had a specific destination in mind but didn’t know how to reach it. The way that characters and storylines were paralleled made it seem more like they overlapped rather than interweaved with one another.
The reality is that I had a significant issue with King Zachary’s storyline and his involvement in other peoples’ storylines. Karigan’s mission – even if it were to be interrupted as it was – and the tertiary storylines that were lightly interspersed felt to me as if they would have been enough on their own. Zachary’s involvement not only felt forced but also contrived – as highlighted by his arrival north.
Now, I’ll admit, my biggest issue with this book was the normalisation of emotional and physical adultery – an issue I am aware not everyone will share with me, but one that nevertheless greatly impacted my enjoyment of this book. There has always been something between Karigan and Zachary, but it was allowed a lot more freedom and justification in this book, and that’s just something that strikes a wrong chord for me. I understand the benefit this storyline provides an author – drama, friction, discord, emotion, etc – but that doesn’t seem to me to be worth the palpable justification and approval I read.
If I’m honest with myself I really enjoyed this book except for the continuing justification of the relationship between Karigan and Zachary. I’m aware how much my opinion on the matter counts, and even how few are likely to agree with me, but I’m still the one writing this review and it’d be dishonest of me not to mention it. The book also finished well but, again, in a way that seemed to confirm the hop-scotch nature of how the book came together in the end.
Firebrand might not have been the prime example of why I loved this series so much through the first four books, but it definitely returned me to a world I loved in a way Mirror Sight didn’t and allowed me to spend time with one of my favourite characters as she faced her greatest challenge yet. I can’t wait for more.
This Firebrand book review was written by Joshua S Hill
All reviews for: Green Rider series
Green Rider series: Book 1
On her long journey home from school after a fight which will surely lead to her expulsion, Karigan G'ladheon ponders her future as she trudges through the immense fore...
First Rider’s Call
Green Rider series: Book 2
Karigan may have heard the First Rider's call, but she's not about to let it take over her life ...... or at least that's what she thinks. She swore to c...
The High King’s Tomb
Green Rider series: Book 3
For Karigan G'ladheon, the call of magic in her blood is too strong to resist. Karigan returns to the Green Riders, the magical messengers of the king, to find she'...
Green Rider series: Book 4
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legen...
Green Rider series: Book 5
Karigan G'ladheon is a Green Rider - a seasoned member of the royal messenger corps whose loyalty and bravery have already been tested many times. And her final, explos...
Green Rider series: Book 6
Green Rider Karigan G'ladheon, not yet recovered in heart or mind from her unexpected trip through time, is assigned a new mission. She must seek out the legendary crea...
Have you read Firebrand?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Firebrand reader reviews
7/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear while the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power ...
Half a King
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it al...
The Faithful and The Fallen
Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will...
The Farseer Trilogy
In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets,...
The World Tree rises up out of the seething clouds like a green mountain, lifting its children up to the light. All creation nestles in its gigantic branches: all take shel...
Hope and Red
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people find a common cause. Hope, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor's forces, is secretly tr...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...
In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall...
The Black God's War
Moses Siregar III
Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One. Her father-king wants war. Her messianic brother wa...
Wall of Night
The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life. Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her pe...
Long ago, the evil God Torak fought a war to obtain an object of immense power - the Orb of Aldur. But Torak was defeated and the Orb reclaimed by Belgarath, the sorcerer. ...
The Emperor's Soul
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skilful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emper...
Hunt for Valamon
When Crown Prince Valamon is impossibly taken from the heart of Algaris Castle, the only clue as to motive or culprit is the use of unknown sorcery. Reclusive cleric Seris ...
Four millennia have passed since the gods came to Myrillia, creating the nine lands of peace as a haven from the nightmarish, accursed Hinterlands. In all this time nothing...
A Trial of Blood and Steel
Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kessligh, her exquisite swordplay astonishes all who witness it. But Sasha is still young, untested in battle...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: