The Firebringer Trilogy – Meredith Ann Pierce

The Firebringer Trilogy (The Birth of the Firebringer, Dark Moon, Son of Summer Stars)
Meredith Ann Pierce
Various publishers and formats

I first read the first book of this trilogy when I was about 7 or 8. Of all the early delvings into fantasy fiction, this one stuck with me the most. It wasn’t until years later that the entire trilogy came back into print, and I was able to read the second two books. I also discovered that I was far from the only grown-up who was delighted to find these YA books available again.

Yes, it’s about unicorns, dragons, gryphons and wyverns. However, these are not fluffy little pastel beings. The unicorns are fierce warriors out on the plains, with sharp cloven hooves and razor-edged spiral horns. Characters die in the series, and the dangers are made very clear.

There is, of course, a prophecy involving the main character, Jan, the prince-to-be of the herd. The twists and turns of the story, though, lead him in some very interesting directions. For YA lit, this trilogy gets quite complex story-wise, and the characters show definite development and growth.

What I find particularly interesting in a pagan sense is the religions of the various herds of unicorns. For example, Jan’s herd does a circle dance every full moon to Alma, the mother of all, and there is a yearly pilgrimage to the sacred spring across the plains in the unicorns’ ancestral home, now overrun by wyverns. Additionally, Pierce gets into some really interesting ideas on spirituality in her writing as the story develops.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story for you; needless to say, this isn’t your average unicorn story.

Five hoofprints out of five.

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