Book Cover
Title Birth of the Firebringer
Author Meredith Ann Pierce
Cover Art Michael Hague
Publisher Scholastic Inc. - 1985
First Printing Scholastic Inc. - 1985
Book Cover
Title Dark Moon
Author Meredith Ann Pierce
Cover Art Linda Champanier
Publisher Science Fiction Book Club - 2003
First Printing 1992
Book Cover
Title The Son of the Summer Stars
Author Meredith Ann Pierce
Cover Art Linda Champanier
Publisher Science Fiction Book Club - 2003
First Printing 1996
Category Young Adult
Warnings None
Main Characters Jan, Dagg, Tek, Korr, Jah-lila, Lell, Ses, Illishar, Lynex, Rhyhenna, Calydor
Main Elements Unicorn, gryphons, dragons
Website Moon and Unicorn

Click to read the summaryBirth of the Firebringer

Click to read the summaryDark Moon & The Son of the Summer Stars

My sister was actually the first to discover this series in a used bookstore, back when we were both kids. I adored the cover so much, and of course I already loved unicorns, that I convinced her to sell it to me. I later found the trilogy in an omnibus collection, but I still can't part with that beaten up copy of Birth of the Firebringer, I love Michael Hague's art so much.

And it starts with that cover. Hague captures Pierce's descriptions of the unicorns perfectly. They look a little different than perhaps your standard unicorn, but they are beautiful, strong, brave and fierce. Warriors and singer, healers and dancers. You want to be one, to feel the strength of your legs as you gallop across the ground, to fence with your friends, to sharpen your hooves, or to simply lay on the soft grass under the warm sun.

The world Pierce creates is magical, filled with a variety of creatures, and for the most part, not a human to be seen. Which adds to this tale, it is told from the point of view of the unicorns. They are not human, they don't think like humans, they don't have hands and so simple acts for us are very difficult for them, in fact it is quite an alien mind which Pierce needed to bring us into.

And yet some things are the same. Believing themselves the chosen of the Alma, the world's creator, they viewed the gryphons in the cliffs as cruel predators, the pans in the forest a languageless barbarian race, and the unicorns on the Plains, Renegades unworthy of living in the Circle. But Jan breaking four hundred years of tradition, discovers that just because pans do not speak in nickers and whistles doesn't mean they don't have language, that the Renegades are not degenerates, in fact many chose to live there, or were born there, and that the gryphons don't like unicorn flesh, but have to eat them since the unicorns have forced out their traditional prey. And that each race considers themselves the chosen of Alma too, for she is creator of all, and loves all her children.

And of course, one of the more unique representations of dragons that I've ever come across.

The world building is deep, Pierce gives all her creations histories, cultures, religions and personalities. The characters are complex, and of course Jan in particular has to grow from a headstrong, irresponsible foal to someone who will fulfill an ancient prophecy. And yet, not in the way the reader expects, and he certainly doesn't do it alone. Because at the core of every legend, there is a simple, ordinary person thrown into extraordinary circumstances.

The trilogy is beautifully written, the language more classical and should be read slowly and savourved. It treats the subject matter seriously. You don't get many books like this anymore, a true fantasy classic that treats its young readers as intelligent and capable of following a complex story.

For anyone that loved The Last Unicorn, you must read the Birth of the Firebringer trilogy.

May your dreams be filled with unicorns.

Posted: March 2016


Background, images and content (unless otherwise noted) are SunBlind
Do not use without permission.