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Firebird / Fusion Fire
Kathy Tyers
Bethany House Publishers, 288 and 319 pages

Fusion Fire
Kathy Tyers
Kathy Tyers is a bestselling author in the ABA market with earned degrees in microbiology and education. In addition to the books in the Firebird series (Firebird, Fusion Fire, and Crown of Fire), she has authored other science fiction novels, including Crystal Witness and Shivering World. Her writing credits also include The Truce at Bakura (her first Star Wars novel) and Balance Point (released in October 2000). A classically trained flutist turned folk artist, she regularly performs folk music with her husband and also plays with the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra. She and her husband make their home in Montana and have one son.

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SF Site Review: One Mind's Eye
Bethany House

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Suzanne Krein

Lady Firebird Angelo knows her duty as a wastling. As the third-born child in one of the ruling families of Netaia, her duty is to die. The Holy Powers worshipped by the Netaians demand this policy of "heir limitation," so Firebird knows that she must willingly die as soon as possible, or she will be killed in an unexplained "accident." Her chosen method of "departure" seems honourable and natural -- she will go into battle as part of the attack force invading the planet Veroh and she will bravely die in that battle. This will satisfy her family and appease the Holy Powers.

Sentinel Brennen Caldwell serves the Federacy. He is a wing colonel in the Federacy's battle against Netaia. He also serves a higher power, the Holy Speaker. Brennen is starbred, a descendent of the Ehretan telepaths -- human by-products of a bioengineering experiment. He reaches out with his mind into the cockpit of one of the Netaian tagwing attack crafts. Shocked, he realizes that there is an unexpected connection between his mind and the mind of this enemy pilot.

In the opening pages of Firebird, Kathy Tyers brings the reader into another universe. In this whorl, humanity has scattered among several other planets. Each planet has developed its own culture and its own set of beliefs. Only the Ehretans hold on to the ancient belief in the Holy Speaker. The Ehretans, distributed in various influential positions throughout the Federacy, carefully guard their beliefs and protect the sanctity of their secret prophecies. Though they come from different worlds and though they have different and conflicting beliefs, the lives of Firebird and Brennen become intertwined.

In Firebird, Tyers weaves a wondrous science fiction tale filled with romance, music, and intense action. Each character becomes vividly alive in the mind of the reader. Tyers uses musical notation as addenda to her chapter titles to set the tone for each chapter, much as a composer uses this notation to set the tone in the various movements of a symphony. The reader thus journeys with Firebird towards the story's crescendo as she longs for death and discovers life.

At the beginning of Fusion Fire, the sequel to Firebird, Lady Firebird Caldwell seems to have everything in the whorl that she could possibly want. She is married to a man who loves her with deep devotion. She will soon give birth to twin sons -- a miracle, since no sons have been born in her family for generations. She is alive, also miraculous since according to "heir limitation" and by the dictates of the Holy Powers, she should be dead. Above it all, she has a growing faith in the Mighty Singer, the Holy One who sang the whorl into existence.

In the midst of this near perfection, disaster strikes. A Shuhr assassin kills Brennen Caldwell's brother and family, and then makes an attempt on the lives of Brennen and Firebird. The lawless Shuhr (bioengineered "starbred" telepaths like the Ehretan Sentinels) had long ago rebelled during a devastating civil war. The Shuhr seem determined to crush the Sentinels, hoping to obliterate the Sentinels' dedication to the principle of service to others. In the aftermath of these terrifying attacks, there does not seem to be a safe haven for Brennen, Firebird, and their unborn sons. Firebird and Brennen Caldwell find themselves in the centre of a conflict that has thrown their whorl into turmoil.

The touching romance and spiritual insight flowing through Fusion Fire in no way imply that the story is lacking in science fiction detail or in riveting action. Once again, Tyers uses musical notation as addenda to her chapter titles. With precision, she increases the intensity of her story to another resounding crescendo. I was only disappointed when the "music" stopped at the end of the book -- I wanted the symphony to continue.

Firebird and Fusion Fire were originally published by Bantam Spectra. The current versions were revised and published by Bethany House Publishers as offerings in the new genre of Christian science fiction. These versions bring into focus the spiritual underpinnings that provide the foundation for these stories. The imagery used to describe Firebird's spiritual journey will stay with me for a lifetime.

The third and final book in the Firebird series, Crown of Fire, concludes the saga of Brennen and Firebird Caldwell. Crown of Fire is due for release in November 2000.

Copyright © 2000 by Suzanne Krein

Suzanne Krein is a free-lance curriculum writer with a life-long passion -- reading and writing science fiction, especially Christian science fiction. She lives with her family in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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