Found as a child, her past and heritage unknown, her hair of fiery red unlike any other, Luck lives a life of servitude as a drudge to the noble-born Blood. When her kindly Dame passes away and a cruel new master takes her place, Luck flees into the wilds of the Kingswood, living and surviving by her wits with the other beasts of the forest. After enduring a brutal winter, she comes upon the firethorn tree that is sacred to the god Ardor. Though she knows the berries can be deadly, hunger drives her to eat them.
The berries bring her strange dreams, and though her life is spared, she is forever altered and changes her name to Firethorn. She returns to the village where she grew up, trying to find a place for herself, but she is restless. When she meets Sire Galan, one of the Blood, she surrenders to her passion and follows him to war to be his ďsheath.Ē With trying to sort friend from foe, Firethorn once again finds herself in a world she knows nothing about, that of men at war. Her one source of comfort and safety is Galan, but when he makes a grievous and heartbreaking error, Firethorn must find a way to correct the wrong heís committed if they are both to survive.
Bold, blunt, and beautiful - all describe author Sarah Micklemís stellar debut novel, Firethorn. Told from the perspective of Firethorn, the supple writing engrosses the reader in her thoughts, emotions, and life. The harsh existence she and the other drudges, or mudfolk, suffer as people at the bottom of a hierarchical society is told with stark honesty, abuse and ill treatment being common for many including Firethorn.
The society, beliefs, gods, customs, herb lore, and all things that make up Firethornís world are so intricately created that it breathes life. Battles and fights are depicted with the full brutality of medieval warfare. When scenes of intimacy occur between Firethorn and Galan - and there are many - no flowery euphemisms are used; just raw lust is described. Itís this straightforward, no-quarter-given style of storytelling in all aspects of the novel that make Firethorn such a fine work.
The story is very character-driven, and from major to minor, each individual personality comes through, even though all are shown through Firethornís eyes. When it comes to Galan, readers experience the same feelings toward him as Firethorn does, moments of irritation and frustration that always become smoothed over by his charm. He is very much a product of his world, a man born to war, though itís also true some of his treatment of her can be hard to take, regardless of the male-dominated society in which they live. Firethorn herself is a wonderfully strong heroine, not only for her deeds but for how she endures the many hardships she faces.
This is a novel that grips the reader from the very first page and holds on until the final words are read, and when those words are finished, the first thought that comes to mind is wanting to have the sequel to continue the tale. Author Micklem has made her mark in the fantasy genre as an author of high merit, and with such a fabulous start to the Firethorn Trilogy, thereís much hope that the others will continue on this strong path. Poignant and powerful, Firethorn is a must-read.