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.
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Marion Zimmer was born in Albany, NY, on June 3, 1930, and married Robert Alden Bradley in 1949. Mrs. Bradley received her B.A. in 1964 from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, then did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-67.
She was a science fiction/fantasy fan from her middle teens, and made her first sale as an adjunct to an amateur fiction contest in Fantastic/Amazing Stories in 1949. She had written as long as she could remember, but wrote only for school magazines and fanzines until 1952, when she sold her first professional short story to Vortex Science Fiction. She wrote everything from science fiction to Gothics, but is probably best known for her Darkover novels.
In addition to her novels, Mrs. Bradley edited many magazines, amateur and professional, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, which she started in 1988. She also edited an annual anthology called Sword and Sorceress for DAW Books.
Over the years she turned more to fantasy; The House Between the Worlds, although a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club, was "fantasy undiluted". She wrote a novel of the women in the Arthurian legends -- Morgan Le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and others -- entitled Mists of Avalon, which made the NY Times best seller list both in hardcover and trade paperback, and she also wrote The Firebrand, a novel about the women of the Trojan War. Her historical fantasy novels, The Forest House, Lady of Avalon, Mists of Avalon are prequels to Priestess of Avalon
She died in Berkeley, California on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a major heart attack. She was survived by her brother, Leslie Zimmer; her sons, David Bradley and Patrick Breen; her daughter, Moira Stern; and her grandchildren.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Table of Contents
VOLUME ONE - APOLLO’S CALL
VOLUME TWO - APHRODITE’S GIFT
VOLUME THREE - POSEIDON’S DOOM
“[Bradley] makes a strong statement about the desirability of women having control of their destinies and about the cruelties men inflict upon them.”—Library Journal
“I recommend The Firebrand wholeheartedly. It has everything a reader needs—color, drama, and spectacle.”
“There are two books you should know that relate to [Kassandra]. Number one: The Iliad. Number two: The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which is actually about [Kassandra] and a very good fiction book.”
Praise for the Novels
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Ravens of Avalon
by Diana L. Paxson
“Stirring ... Paxson’s bright fusion of fact and myth is a fine tribute to Bradley and the real-world triumphs and tragedy of Boudica.”—Publishers Weekly
“Marion Zimmer Bradley would be proud of this. . . .The story line smoothly combines ancient history with fantasy elements to please fans.”—Midwest Book Review
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Ancestors of Avalon
by Diana L. Paxson
“Magical. . . . [The Mists of Avalon] devotees won’t feel let down by Ancestors . . . provides plenty of pleasurable reading hours.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“An elegant stylist, Paxson captures the awe, tragedy, and resounding mystery of ancient Britain and mist-enshrouded Atlantis.”—Publishers Weekly
“Paxson fashions an entirely new entry in the Avalon saga. . . . [Her] storytelling features the requisite veins of mysticism, but, like Bradley, she excels at bringing the vast sweep of imagined history to an accessible level . . . a rich and respectful homage that will dazzle readers longing to revisit Bradley’s sacred, storied isle.”—Booklist
“Once again, Diana L. Paxson has beautifully elaborated on Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved Avalon saga with this dramatic new installment . . . [an] extraordinary journey.” —SFRevu
“Paxson is an excellent choice as successor to Bradley for this series. Her style and the details of the plot retain the sense of the mysterious past and the feminist awareness that was an underlying theme in the originals.”
Priestess of Avalon
(with Diana L. Paxson)
“Stunning . . . This rich and moving novel merits its place beside Bradley’s fantasy classic.”—Booklist
“A strange and wondrous story that no fan of the previous Avalon books should be without.”—SF Site
“Priestess of Avalon does a stunning job of recapturing the legendary power of the original. . . . [It] brings rich imagery to its prophetic scenes.”—The Green Man Review
“The story flourishes and comes to life. . . . [Bradley’s] fans will not want to miss it.”—VOYA
“Bradley creates a powerful tale of magic and faith that enlarges upon pagan and Christian traditions to express a deeper truth.”—Library Journal
“It is obvious that Diana L. Paxson did a lot of research, finding clever ways to meld fantasy to reality, making the portrait of this famous woman both vivid and believable. . . . The politics of religion and of running an empire make for some good reading.”—SF Site
“Amazing and enthralling . . . [Priestess of Avalon] is true to the style and tone of Bradley’s other works. Diana Paxson is a very talented author in her own right and excels at taking historical figures and bringing them to vibrant life. . . . With magic, deep, and layered characters and a sweeping narrative, Priestess of Avalon is sure to delight Bradley’s many fans, and make many new ones for the talented Diana Paxson.”—Readers Read
Lady of Avalon
The National Bestseller
“Combines romance, rich historical detail, magical dazzlements, grand adventure, and feminist sentiments into the kind of novel her fans have been yearning for.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Compelling, powerful.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Bradley’s women are, as usual, strong and vibrant, but never before has she so effectively depicted the heroic male . . . an immensely popular saga.”—Booklist
Also by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Forest House
Lady of Avalon
Priestess of Avalon
The Mists of Avalon
Also by Diana L. Paxson
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Ancestors of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Ravens of Avalon
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First Roc Mass Market Printing, April 2009
Copyright © Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1987
eISBN : 978-1-101-02888-9
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FOR MARY RENAULT
“Oh Troy Town! Tall Troy’s on fire!”
“Before the birth of Paris, Hecuba, Queen of Troy, dreamed that she had given birth to a firebrand who would burn down the walls of Troy.”
All DAY the rain had been coming down; now heavy, now tapering off to showers, but never entirely stopping. The women carried their spinning indoors to the hearth, and the children huddled under the overhanging roofs of the courtyard, venturing out for a few minutes between showers to splash through the brick-lined puddles and track the mud inside to the hearthside. By evening, the oldest of the women by the hearth thought she might go mad with the shrieking and splashing, the charging of the little armies, the bashing of wooden swords on wooden shields, the splintering sounds and quarreling over the broken toys, the shifting of loyalties from leader to leader, the yells of the “killed” and “wounded” when they were put out of the game.
Too much rain was still coming down the chimney for proper cooking at the hearth; as the winter day darkened, fires were lighted in braziers. As the baking meat and bread began to smell good, one after another the children came and hunched down like hungry puppies, sniffing loudly and still quarreling in undertones. Shortly before dinner, a guest arrived at the door: a minstrel, a wanderer whose lyre strapped to his shoulder guaranteed him welcome and lodging everywhere. When he had been given food and a bath and dry clothing, the minstrel came and seated himself in the place accorded the most welcome guests, close to the fire. He began to tune his instrument, leaning his ear close to the tortoiseshell pegs and testing the sound with his finger. Then, without asking leave—even in these days a bard did as he chose—he strummed a single loud chord and declaimed:
I will sing of battles and of the great men who fought them;
Of the men who lingered ten years before the giant-builded walls of Troy;
And of the Gods who pulled down those walls at last, of Apollo Sun Lord and Poseidon the mighty Earth Shaker.
I will sing the tale of the anger of powerful Akhilles,
Born of a Goddess, so mighty no weapon could slay him;
Even the story of his overweening pride, and that battle
Where he and great Hector fought for three days on the plains before high-walled Troy;
Of proud Hector and gallant Akhilles, of Kentaurs and Amazons, Gods and heroes,
Odysseus and Aeneas, all those who fought and were slain on the plains before Troy——
“No!” the old woman exclaimed sharply, letting her spindle drop and springing up. “I won’t have it! I’ll not hear that nonsense sung in my hall!”
The minstrel let his hand fall on the strings with a jangling dissonance; his look was one of dismay and surprise, but his tone was polite.
“I tell you I won’t have those stupid lies sung here at my hearth!” she said vehemently.
The children made disappointed sounds; she gestured them imperiously to silence. “Minstrel, you are welcome to your meal and to a seat by my fire; but I won’t have you filling the children’s ears with that lying nonsense. It wasn’t like that at all.”
“Indeed?” the harper inquired, still politely. “How do you know this, madam? I sing the tale as I learned it from my master, as it is sung everywhere from Crete to Colchis—”
“It may be sung that way, from here to the very end of the world,” the old woman said, “but it didn’t happen that way at all.”
“How do you know that?” asked the minstrel.
“Because I was there, and I saw it all,” replied the old woman.
The children murmured and cried out.
“You never told us that, Grandmother. Did you know Akhilles, and Hector, and Priam, and all the heroes?”
“Heroes!” she said scornfully. “Yes, I knew them; Hector was my brother.”
The minstrel bent forward and looked sharply at her.
“Now I know you,” he said at last.
She nodded and bent her white head forward.
“Then perhaps, Lady, you should tell the story; I who serve the God of Truth would not sing lies for all men to hear.”
The old woman was silent for a long time. At last she said, “No; I cannot live it all again.” The children whined with disappointment. “Have you no other tale to sing?”
“Many,” said the harper, “but I wish not to tell a story you mock as a lie. Will you not tell the truth, that I may sing it elsewhere?”
She shook her head firmly.
“The truth is not so good a story.”
“Can you not at least tell me where my story goes astray, that I may amend it?”
She sighed. “There was a time when I would have tried,” she said, “but no man wishes to believe the truth. For your story speaks of heroes and Kings, not Queens; and of Gods, not Goddesses.”
“Not so,” said the harper, “for much of the story speaks of the beautiful Helen, who was stolen away by Paris; and of Leda, the mother of Helen and her sister Klytemnestra, who was seduced by great Zeus, who took the form of her husband the King—”
“I knew you could not understand,” the old woman said, “for, to begin, at first in this land there were no Kings, but only Queens, the daughters of the Goddesses, and they took consorts where they would. And then the worshipers of the Sky Gods, the horse-folk, the users of iron, came down into our country; and when the Queens took them as consorts, they called themselves Kings and demanded the right to rule. And so the Gods and the Goddesses were in strife; and a time came when they brought their quarrels to Troy—” Abruptly she broke off.
“Enough,” she said. “The world has changed; already I can tell you think me an old woman whose wits wander. This has been my destiny always: to speak truth and never to be believed. So it has been, so it will ever be. Sing what you will; but mock not my own truth on my own hearth. There are tales enough. Tell us about Medea, Lady of Colchis, and the golden fleece which Jason stole from her shrine—if he did. I daresay there is some other truth to that tale too, but I neither know it, nor care what the truth may be; I have not set foot in Colchis for many long years.” She picked up her spindle and quietly began to spin.
The harper bowed his head.
“Be it so, Lady Kassandra,” he said. “We all thought you dead in Troy, or in Mykenae soon after.”
“Then that should prove to you that at least in some particulars the tale speaks not the truth,” she said, but in an undertone.
Still my fate: always to speak the truth, and only to be thought mad. Even now, the Sun Lord has not forgiven me. . . .
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