Welcome back! I have a fun, fiery and thrilling read for you today! I want to introduce you
all to Gillian Phillp author of Firebrand. This is an exciting adventure that captivated me from the first page, and it was a book that is a bit outside of my comfort zone, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend. I have Gillian here to share a fun guest post with you today. Here is Gillian's bio:
Gillian Philip is also know as Gabriella Poole, whom she wrote the Darke Academy series as.
I live in the north-east highlands of Scotland, with one husband, two children, three dogs (Cluny, Milo and Otto), two psychotic cats (the Ghost and the Darkness), a slayer hamster (Buffy), three chickens (Mapp, Lucia and Mrs Norris) and a lot of nervous fish. I have taken a solemn vow not to get any more pets. I will probably break this vow.
Writing for a living is (a) what I always wanted to do; (b) occasionally frustrating; (c) a lot of fun – I take dictation from the characters in my head, who spend their lives telling me what’s going to happen next.
But I like it that I never know just how it’s all going to end – not till the fat lady sings, the villain meets a suitably sticky end, and the boy gets the girl (or indeed the boy).
As well as full-length books, I write fiction for secondary Key Stage 3. Life Of The Party, Mind’s Eye, Sea Fever and Cyber Fever have been published by Evans Brothers, and short stories The Changeling, Rockface, Misty and The Kindest Cut appear in their sci fi, crime, ghost and comedy collections. And I ghostwrite fiction for companies including Hothouse and Working Partners. Visit Gillian on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Here is Gillian:
10 Big Ideas for Rebel Angels
‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ It’s the question every writer dreads, and yet it’s a perfectly reasonable one. I used to wonder it too, when I was starting out, because I was rubbish at looking for ideas myself. But it turns out ideas are everywhere you look (or listen or smell). It’s just that the answer can veer wildly from ‘that houseplant I killed’ through ‘the guy in the hat who was standing behind the police tape in that news report’ to ‘oh just this old song I remember hating’. And every conceivable thing in between.
Writer Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, Casanova, Queer As Folk) likes to answer with ‘The Ideas Shop in Abergavenny’. Which I like (I only wish it existed). But a little more seriously, I thought I’d share a few of the sparks that ignited my Firebrand - not to mention the rest of the Rebel Angels series
1. Well, where else would I start? Seth, that’s where. I like to surf the net, lasciviously, looking for characters, and Billy Crudup fit the bill nicely.
Course, the first time I spotted him was in Stage Beauty. Seth’s never forgiven me for that frock.
2. I always loved Scottish Celtic Mythology; I especially adore kelpies. I’ve always had a soft spot for flesh-eating horses. Also, blue roans. So Seth’s warhorse is a blue roan flesh-eating kelpie.
Image courtesy of tragedyseen on deviantart
3. Research? I hates it. But not for this book. For Firebrand, I had to go back to the sixteenth century, where Seth was plunged into the Scottish Reformation, religious wars and worst of all, the witch trials. In Scotland they were particularly gruesome; I had to look up original sources like King James’ Daemonologie and the Malleus Maleficarum. The Daemonologie was pretty much a how-to handbook for the discovery and torture of witches, and it was written by a reigning monarch.
4. Landscape is a big source of ideas for me. It’s my big giant muse. I love the island of Colonsay, off the west coast of Scotland; it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I could spend my life walking all over it, watching my characters get up to mischief, romance or adventure. This is where the ruins of Seth’s father’s dun are located, looking over the Atlantic Ocean.
5. And it so happens that Scotland is full of beautiful, sinister lochs that could easily be gateways between worlds. For Bloodstone I had the idea of throwing a couple of teenagers into one, and watching them vanish. Only in my head, though.
7. I love my dog. This is Cluny. Okay, he’s not a wolf, but his personality is very like Branndair’s, so he helps with writing him. Cluny also helps out when I’m writing Survivors, the Erin Hunter series about dogs in a post-apocalyptic world.
8. What writer doesn’t love a soundtrack? I know this song is kind of ubiquitous, but that’s because it’s great. There are thousands of stories in there, and one of them was mine.
9. Movies are cheating, of course, because they are already their own story, but I do get a lot of inspiration from them - their action, atmosphere, and of course the look of some of the actors. A friend who is also a big fan of Firebrand sent me the DVD of La Reine Margot because she thought I’d love it. Sure enough, it’s got all the brutal violence and desperate, doomed romance I like. It’s heartbreaking but fabulous.
10. If you start with a hero, you’ve got to finish with one, that’s what I say. I’ve had quite a few images for Seth’s big brother Conal over the years, but this one is the latest and possibly the best. Jensen Ackles, mmm. (If you love this picture of Jensen click on it for purchase details).
Thank you for having me, Heidi, that was fun!
A big thanks to Gillian for taking the time to put together that fantastic post and provide pictures of Scotland! I am excited that I am able to host a giveaway courtesy of Tor Books for a copy of Firebrand by Gillian Phillip. This is open to U.S. and Canada. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter. See Contest Policies for details. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Firebrand (Rebel Angels #1) by Gillian Phillip
At the end of the sixteenth century, religious upheaval brings fear, superstition, and doubt to the lives of mortals. Yet unbeknownst to them, another world lies just beyond the Veil: the realm of the Sithe, a fierce and beautiful people for whom a full-mortal life is but the blink of an eye. The Veil protects and hides their world…but it is fraying at the edges, and not all think it should be repaired. Discarded by his mother and ignored by his father, sixteen-year-old Seth MacGregor has grown up half wild in his father’s fortress, with only his idolized older brother, Conal, for family. When Conal quarrels with the Sithe queen and is forced into exile in the full-mortal world, Seth volunteers to go with him.But life beyond the Veil is even more dangerous than they expected, and Seth and Conal soon find themselves embroiled in a witch-hunt—in which they are the quarry. Trapped between the queen’s machinations at home and the superstitious violence of the otherworld, Seth must act before both of them are fed to the witch-hunters’ fires…Brimming with intrigue and rebellion, Firebrand is the first book in the Rebel Angels series by Gillian Philip, the Carnegie Medal–nominated author of Crossing the Line and multi-award-nominated Bad Faith.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Tor Books
Four stars: An adrenaline fueled thrilling read!
Seth clutches his cross bow holding his breath, he is waiting for the moment when intolerant, superstitious and cowardly humans will tie his noble and beloved brother to the stake for burning. Seth will not allow those beasts to kill his brother in fiery flames, he will take matters into his own hands and spare his brother a cruel death. Seth is angry at the ignorant mortals, but he is even angrier at his Queen. Seth and Conal should not be here in the mortal world. They are Sithe, a magical, fierce people who exist in another realm, separated from the mortal world by a Veil. Queen Kate, in a moment of anger, exiled the brothers to the mortal world, and Conal was captured by the intolerant, cruel witch hunters. Seth loves his brother fiercely and unconditionally. He will do anything for his brother, even kill him if necessary. The crowd jeers as Conal is brought before them, head shorn, bleeding and broken. Seth tightens his finger on the trigger and takes a deep breath to steady his aim........
What I Liked:
- Firebrand is not usually a book I would pick up on my own. It is billed as a violent fantasy adventure. I do read a bit of fantasy here and there, but I am not a big fan of overly violent books, so I was a bit tentative going into this read. There was no need to hesitate because I can honestly say from the first paragraph I was hooked! This book is an adrenaline fueled thrill ride from beginning to end, and at its heart is an unbelievably strong, fiercely loyal bond between two half brothers. I absolutely adored the brothers, Seth and Conal, and I especially enjoyed there unconditional love for one another. I was also pleased to find that this book was not particularly violent. Yes, there are fighting scenes and some violence, but for the most part the author tends to gloss over the violent parts and not provide the gruesome and gory details, so I had no problems with the violence in this one. I would highly recommend you take a chance and pick this one up, even if it is far beyond something you would normally read. I thought it was a fantastically good book.
- I liked that this book was a blend of fantasy and historical. The first few pages of the book open with the terrifying execution scene, and then the reader is thrust back in time into the world of the Sithe. Here we meet a young boy named Seth, who is abandoned by his mother and ignored by his father. He is a ghost, a shadow, non existent in his father's clan. That is until his older half brother Conal, whom Seth has sworn to hate because he has their father's love and approval, takes Seth under his wing. From that point on, the bond between the brothers is cemented and it is the center piece for the story. The story progresses in the world of the Sithe and the reader learns how the two brothers end up in the human world. Once they enter into the human realm, they land in the middle of Scotland during the sixteenth century witch hunts. I enjoyed the balance between the historical and fantasy and I thought the world building was very well executed.
- I absolutely adored Seth. Granted, he is a bit difficult to love as he is fiery, impetuous, fiercely brave, hot headed and flawed. He has a quick temper, which he loses often, and he is always getting himself into trouble. Yet, when he does love, he does it with passion and fire whether it be his brother Conal or his lover. Seth is certainly a fiery hero that I won't forget anytime soon. His brother Conal is absolutely swoon worthy as well. He is more level headed, kind and always trying to do the right thing, whether it be looking after his hotheaded brother or sacrificing for his people. I completely loved both of these brothers, flaws and all.
- I liked that this book was fast paced and full of danger. It pulled me in from the first heart pounding paragraphs, and I found my heart racing as I read. This book has plenty of action, danger and adrenaline fueled scenes, and I can honestly say that I was completely engaged throughout. It has been awhile since a book hooked me and kept me entertained until the end. Again, I must stress that this book is outside my comfort zone, but I am so glad I picked it up! The story is riveting and it draws to a reasonable resolution without a dreadful cliffhanger, but the author lays down some promising story lines for the next book. Also the book is without love triangles. It is a good solid story.
And The Not So Much:
- While I though the world building was well done, there were times when I longed for a bit more detail. For instance, Conal and Seth procure water horses, which are part demon and flesh eating, but there was so little description on these beasts. I was unsure of their makeup and what made them tick. I would love to know more about these horses. There were other things that lacked detail as well such as the evil Lammyr. They are briefly mentioned in the beginning and then they crop up later in the story. Again, I felt like I didn't have a full grasp on these creatures, and I wish the author had taken the time to elaborate on them.
- I was confused about the intervention of a mortal during Seth's and Conal's exile. He appears at a timely moment to save the day and I was completely surprised and taken back. This character was only briefly mentioned and then he swoops in and plays a significant role and I never understood entirely who he was and if he had knowledge of the Sithe.
- At the end, there is a dramatic showdown between Queen Kate and Lenore, the witch, and it is revealed that the two had consulted with some kind of Oracle or prophet, but there is no mention about this seer until this point. I was left wondering why there was no discussion on the prophet before this moment and wanted more details on this part of the story.
Firebrand was a book that completely swept me into its world and held me captive with its fast and dangerous story. At its heart are two fierce and brave brothers with an unbreakable bond. This is a book that I would likely not have picked up on my own, but I was so glad that I read this one, as I was throughly entertained from beginning to end. I loved the danger and the heart stopping action scenes and more. I cannot wait to see how this series will progress. If you are in the mood for an adrenaline fueled thrill ride, definitely pick this one up!
"A heart can only break so many times. I'm not saying it fails entirely: just that it mends the wrong way. It warps. It's stitched together loose and askew and it doesn't work as it should."
"So one night I went to bed still believing I hated him, because I'd planned to always hate him. And in the morning I woke up knowing that I loved him. If Griogair wouldn't be my father, Conal would, and I would love him till the day I died. And he hadn't even had to to twist my mind."
"I craned my head back to look up into the Milky Way, dizzy with the distance and the splendour of it. Night air is different; it tastes younger, newer, darker. Fill your lungs with it, and you fill your lungs with night."
"Sometimes it made me laugh, that I could love another human being more than I loved my home, the home that had nursed me when no human being would touch me. Yet I did: I would give up my home forever for him. It ran quite counter to my self-image. All I could do about it was laugh."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.