Just before Christmas, I picked up Kathy Tyers’ novel Firebird. It’s been on my shelf since Write Vancouver! last year. I had the chance to interview Kathy before the conference and then take her class on point of view at the conference. Then my reading list grew astronomically and Firebird sat on my shelf, catching my eye every month or two.
Once I started reading, I was hooked. Tyers begins the novel by saying, “Lady Firebird Angelo was trespassing.” That sentence says so much about Firebird, who is a feisty, intelligent, brave young woman—a wastling by birth, a fighter pilot by choice. The third daughter in the royal family, her destiny is to die with as much heroism as she can… yet her sister’s war doesn’t go the way everyone expects and Firebird finds herself in enemy hands.
Brennen Caldwell is a Sentinel, a descendent of genetically-engineered telepaths. Also a fighter pilot, he meets Firebird in battle, yet immediately senses their connaturality. Forced by duty to interrogate Firebird and then attack her home planet, he also finds himself attracted to her… despite the fact that she doesn’t share either his religion or his telepathic abilities. Then, when Firebird reveals to him more details of her sister’s plans, Brennen must make a choice that could cost him his career.
There were so many things I loved about this novel. It was fascinating to move from Firebird’s world on Netaia to the wider world of the Federacy, and to see her confronted with opposing worldviews. Tyers has done an impeccable job of building planets, cultures and religions for each of her characters. At times, some of the details required extra concentration or a flip back through the book (I found I needed a quiet reading space for this novel; it wasn’t one that I could flip open while we were driving back to Alberta and the girls were chattering away behind me).
If my younger brother found a book that he really liked, he used to finish it and then start reading it right away again. This novel made me want to do that . I found myself thinking about Brennen and Firebird for days after I’d finished the novel, wanting to know what happens next. Thankfully, there’s four more books in the series and I just ordered them on Amazon. 🙂
Firebird reminded me of Ender’s Game or the new Star Trek movies. I enjoyed seeing how Tyers wove faith into this novel, while keeping within the cultures and worlds she’s created. In an author’s note, Tyers says, “Most fiction, including most science fiction and fantasy, begins by asking, ‘What if…?’ In creating a spiritual struggle for Lady Firebird, I asked one of those questions: What if God had created a universe without Earth, and a chosen people with a vastly different history? If the culture prepared to receive the Messiah had been obliged to wait two or three thousand years longer, then before He was born they might have developed space travel…”
Kathy Tyers is the author of five books in the Firebird series as well as three Star Wars novels. All of her novels contain a musician (Firebird plays a clairstra and composes music) and Kathy trained and performed as a flutist, but also plays guitar and Irish harp. She has a degree in microbiology, a master’s degree in Christian Studies, and is a certified teacher. When she’s not writing her own novels, she helps other writers as an editor and mentor. You can find out more about her on her website.
“All good fiction asks ‘what if…’ and that is exactly what Kathy Tyers does in Firebird. I found myself intrigued by her use of science fiction to explore a presmis of how God might bring hope to a different world, and enjoyed the entire journey throughout the book. Definitely worth reading!” ~ Sigmund Brouwer