Feb 12, 2013

Firebird, by Kathy Tyers

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: not specified (recommend 13+)
Issues of Violence: battle violence, "gun" battle, suicide
Intimacy Level: kissing, emotional connections
Swearing: none
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars 

Firebird is a wastling--the fourth-born child to a royal family with almost no chance of inheriting her family's throne. Wastlings are given courageous missions after training with orders to die heroically. It's morbid. It's their culture. It's Firebird's future.
When Firebird is given her mission, instead of honorable suicide, she is captured by the enemy and taken as a prisoner for questioning and leverage.

I've heard the name, Firebird, more times than I can count in the Christian writing world. As far as I know, it's one of the first Christian science fiction novels outside of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. I read the new annotated three-in-one volume recently printed by Marcher Lord Press. It had a lot of interesting facts from the author on why she changed things or changed names, but this was a little distracting for a first-time reader because I'd never read the original and some of the notes gave away things in the future that I wasn't ready to know yet. I learned to ignore them (with plans to return once I finished each book for a tasty dessert). Still, it's nice knowing I'm reading the newest, freshest version.

Characters: *****
One thing I particularly loved about Firebird was the depth of characters. Firebird Angelo was so believably loyal to her planet and yet so deceived about what is "right". I loved the struggle she went through between loyalty and justice. Her internal process of guilt, hope, and curiosity drove her home in my mind. 

The male lead, whom we meet later on, is an excellent leader who wants to maintain justice and mercy while still leading battles and being fiercely protective of the innocent. He's not free from the struggle of pride and temptations, though. 

Plot: *****
The love that developed between Firebird and the male-lead happened a little quick for me, but a lot of emotional connection is bade with connaturality--a new mystery presented in the novel. I'm also not a huge fan of reading romance so, trying to remain unbiased, the romantic interest actually remained gradually believable and mature.

This was my first experience with deep science fiction and it was...new. I've concluded I do not have the special brain or understanding to fully grasp space novels. The writing confused me with an overload of names, terms, places, and space talk. I give it the benefit of the doubt, though, because I've never read Star Wars or watched Star Trek. Thick science-fiction usually stays on the shelf with me, but, as a determined reader, I impressed myself by at least keeping the general plot and main characters straight.

The end of the novel was delivered with a lot of heightened tension and stretched hopes. I love being on the edge of my seat and Kathy Tyres wrote beautifully. I admire her imagination and skill as an author. 

Spiritual Content: *****
Firebird prays to "The Powers", known as the supernatural guides over her planet. These powers judge a person by his or her actions with no ounce of grace. It's a legalistic belief system based in obedience, not faith, and Firebird questions it more and more the closer she gets to her death. What life comes after death? Did she earn it? She can't picture it and that frightens her.
The representation of relationship with God was clear, but not blatant. He's seen as "The Speaker" or "The Singer". The belief system is a mixture of Old and New Testament theology. The Sentinels (mind-readers of sorts) are waiting for the "Word to Come", (the equivalent of the Messiah), yet Brennen interacts with the Eternal One (God) on a  very personal Jesus-like level. God seems both high and distant, yet merciful and personal. Strange rules (like Sentinels not allowed to share their faith unless asked) and prophecies surround the belief in The Speaker. I look forward to deeper explanations in the next novels of how He interacts with His people.

Overall Recommendation:
For the most part, it was fascinating to see the questions Firebird tackled when she was introduced to the idea of a merciful God. Her discovery of Him and view of those who believe in Him is a wonderful point of view.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes science fiction. The science and spacey side of things was a bit to deep and confusing for me. But it's in-depth, fun (albeit a little slow moving), creative, and filled with unforgettable characters. If you've got the stamina, give it a go!

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.


  1. I read Firebird 8 years ago at the time I most confused about my faith journey with God. I was a sci-fi buff and most of the time the sci-fi novels and TV shows I watched made me questions my faith. Thank God I ran into Firebird series. He used it as a guiding light for me to seek out His Truth and I became hungry in reading God's words and eventually made a spiritual breakthrough in my walk with God.

    1. That is awesome! Sorry I missed this comment back in March, but reading it today is just as good. It's amazing how God uses speculative fiction to still change our lives and bring us to Him.