Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Crown of Fire

Day 3 of the CSSF Tour, in which the blogger discusses endorsements and the third book of Kathy Tyers' enjoyable trilogy Firebird. See the last 2 days for more intro.

First, I have a complaint about the endorsements on the 1 volume version of Firebird. On the cover the endorsement is from Bob Briner, author of Roaring Lambs. He is a gentleman I deeply respected for his position in the entertainment industry and the way he walked out his faith. But his quote sets up the book as "anticipating the coming Messiah. A must read for people of science and people of faith." The problem is, if you don't know who Bob Briner is, then any impact of the quote is lost. True, there's not a lot of Christian Sci-fi to go to an author for an endorsement, but there may have been a "better name" to go with this.

The endorsement by Christopher Parkening, premier classical guitarist, on the back cover is even more puzzling. Why would I care what a musician says about a book? I know Kathy Tyers is classically trained as a musician, but this endorsement is just a little bizarre. Anyway, these are quibblings, but goofy endorsements don't help the book! Had I seen this in the store, wondering about the book, they would make me think, "Ooooo-kay, they couldn't get anybody with authority in fiction to endorse it." What do my fellow tour folks think of this?

Again, the warning of spoilers if you continue...

Crown of Fire is the third installment of Firebird. This book has an interesting history. Firebird and Fusion Fire were written originally in the 80's, then were re-written in their "definitive vision" state along with Crown of Fire in the late 90's(a la George Lucas and the Special Edition of Star Wars perhaps?). I mention this, because the third book carries a different tone altogether from the first two books.

Firebird has been called back to Netaia to be reinstated as an heir to the throne. Brennan, weakened in his Sentinal powers from Fusion Fire, accompanies her and the two try to set up a trap to capture a Shuhr agent in order to mount a final attack on Three Zed. Through many official balls and events, Firebird is put into danger as they try to lure out the Shuhr agent tracking them.

Meanwhile, there is infiltration into the Netaian government, and Tel Tellai must rise up from his previous meekness to confront great danger to his homeworld.

Again, Tyers takes us through an explosive finale (I'm sorry, but it can't be explained any other way!). I can't really give away too much more about the plot in my synopsis here without major spoilers.

Here in lies one of the problems with Crown of Fire: it has one major set-up that takes up half the book. All the preparation for the major confirmation ball, and Firebird's personal conflict (again), takes too much time to develop. I really bogged down for a little while, waiting for things to take off. There would be little action events here and there, without much satisfaction as a reader.

As I mentioned before, I think I can really tell the time lapse from when the first two were written to this one. It felt like I was reading a different series, just with the same characters.

Now, once the middle to 2/3's point is reached, the book takes off and doesn't let you go - you end up catching your breath at the end, white knuckles and sweat running off your palms. So, don't lose heart in the beginning of the book. Those who are patient are rewarded with an exciting ending (even though some events are tied up a little too conveniently, but this is hard NOT to do).

Overall, I though Firebird was the strongest book, though not by much over Fusion Fire. Crown of Fire is a little disappointing, but it still is worth pushing through to get the resolution to the series, and is rewarding in the end. It just takes a little more determination in the 3rd book. I enjoyed Firebird's journey, and there were some side characters like Tel who had very satisfying character arcs.

I enjoy Sci-Fi movies like Star Wars and Serenity more than reading these type of books. However, Firebird was a great summer journey, and it actually spoke encouragement to me in situations I was dealing with through the summer. I recommend Firebird heartily - just don't put me on the cover as an endorsement just yet...

Jim Black
Rachel Marks
John J. Boyer
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Pamela James
Tina Kulesa
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith


  1. I have to agree about the strange endorsements, Jason. I commented on them to my wife - "Why pick a guitarist to recommend a book??"

    Tyers' has cowritten a book with him, but perhaps a quote from Karen Hancock would've been better.

  2. Karen wasn't published yet. :-)

    Chris Parkening is a close friend of Kathy's ... my guess is that they thought a well-known name in Christian circles would draw more non-SF readers ...

  3. Ah! Now it makes more sense.

  4. After posting and reading Tyers' website, seeing that they were close friends makes more sense.

    My question on the "wasn't published yet" - this was the same endorsement from the 80's? That's when Firebird was first published, right?

    I guess I don't know Parkening either way, so that may be my problem. Like I said in the blog, it might be hard to find a really good sci-fi Christian author endorsement (other than Kathy Tyers herself! lol). If only that Perlandia author was available...

  5. If only that Perlandia author was available... Hahah! Good line, Jason.

    I had to skim this review also because I don't want the spoilers, but I found your comments similar to Elliot's. Now I have to find out if that's just a guy reaction or what. ;-)

    Great post.


  6. I agree whole-heartedly with your statement that Firebird is the strongest of the three. That one draws me repeatedly till I can quote lines, whereas the others I pick up once every few years.

    Boy, was I happy when I found this series! I've been so disappointed by the lack of Christian sci-fi that I've set out to write some! (…Though I've since been sidetracked by some fantasy ideas.)

    As an interesting note, a "carradee" is a Jamaican bird.