The Firebrand, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
"Blending archaeological fact and legend, the myths of the gods and the feats of heroes, Marion Zimmer Bradley breathes new life into the classic tale of the Trojan War-reinventing larger-than-life figures as living people engaged in a desperate struggle that dooms both the victors and the vanquished, their fate seen through the eyes of Kassandra-priestess, princess, and passionate woman with the spirit of a warrior."
This is another mythology based book that reads like action and fantasy. First published in 1987, this book tells the story of the fall of Troy, through the eyes of Cassandra, the mythical figure doomed to always see the future, but never be believed.
Mythology would portray her as a person shunned- a seeming lunatic, raving about destruction and doom, and being laughed at and scorned. But in Bradley's version, Cassandra becomes a more realistic person. She is a headstrong, tomboyish sort of woman, who speaks her mind. At a young age, she discovers that she has the gift of prophesy and that she must serve Apollo at his temple. Being the sort of woman who acts too much like a man, and speaks her mind in defiance of the men in her life, she is often disbelieved and her opinions are dismissed. So, this Cassandra makes more of a statement about how women have been treated historically- that often we were labeled "crazy" if we were independent, out-spoken or stubborn.
You follow Cassandra through the course of the Trojan War, so you will see many familiar events throughout the story, even if you weren't familiar with her myth before. There's King Priam and his wife, Hecuba, Paris and Helen, Achilles and Ajax...all of the people we know are there, and some you may not even know yet! Plus you get to see life inside the temples, based on what we know from history, and a fairly realistic explanation of the centaur myth.
There's a lot to love here- a strong female character, constant action and suspense, tragedy, passion, history...this one has stayed on my list of favorite books. So check it out and give an old book some love!