Firebrand - Gillian Philip

Title: Firebrand
(Rebel Angels Book 1)
Author: Gillian Philip

Publisher: Strident Publishing
Release Date: 2010
Category: Fantasy
Source: From the author
Paperback: 372 pages

Summary from Amazon:
It is the last decade of the sixteenth century: a time of religious wars in the full-mortal world. But the Sithe are at peace, hidden behind the Veil that protects their world until their queen, Kate NicNiven, determines to destroy it. Seth MacGregor is the half-feral son of a Sithe nobleman. When his father is assassinated, and Seth is exiled with his brother Conal to the full-mortal world, they vow not only to survive, but to return to reclaim their fortress and save the Veil. But even the Veil's power cannot protect the brothers when the brutal witch-hunts begin...


The story is told from the point of view of Seth, a young Sithe who is sent to live with his Noble father. We learn very early that Seth never felt as if he belonged when he was living with his mother Lilith, an adviser to the queen Kate and that he doesn't belong either when he is sent to live with his father. He develops his strong character from this very lonely childhood. His half-brother Conal takes him under his wing when he is 8 years old and they become very close throughout the years. When Conal is exiled to the full-mortal world, behind the veil, Seth follows him into what is our 16th century. Seth and Conal discover more about the world behind the Veil, but also about themselves.

To be honest this is one of the most promising fantasy series I have read lately. The writing grips you from the very first pages and I haven't been able to stop reading it. This book is truly a much welcomed addition to the genre and I am really excited for the sequels! 

I absolutely loved the world created by Gillian Philip. It is thoroughly original and keeps enough mystery to keep you wanting more. The Sithe society is so different from the human society that not only was I interested to learn more and more about their customs but I was also given, as the full mortal that I am, a really good insight into human customs. We see the 16th century through the eyes of Seth and how religion worked back then. The perspective is fascinating to read and I really love books which make me think.

In the Sithe society, women are equal to men and as strong as them when it comes to fighting. I *loved* reading about Seth not understanding why, in the full mortal world, women are required to stay at home and wear dresses (my point exactly!). An also very interesting thing that was present in the book is the difficulty encountered by some Sithe to have children. It is very interesting how an ever decreasing prospect of a younger generation can affect a person. It's the type of undercurrent themes that I wasn't anticipating in a fantasy book and which bring so much depth to the story.

The characters and various personalities and lives presented throughout the book are truly fascinating and a proof of an amazing talent. I am going to go all fangirly on you here but I loved all the characters and I thought they were brilliantly created. 

And I will love Gillian Philip *forever* for the presence of two Sithe wolf pets. I *love* those two darlings!! Okay and I might have already told my mom that this is what I want for Christmas because now I know they (metaphorically) exist, I can't live without them.

Seth is the narrator but we can read every now and then a sentence which tells us that he is telling the story some time in the future. The comings and goings in the past/present/future usually don't entrance me though it is not too present in this book and I have a feeling that at some point in the following novels of the Rebel Angels series we'll be reading Seth narrating in the present. 

This is an amazing book for anyone who is a fan of fantasy, but maybe also to people who enjoy historical fiction and character-oriented stories. The writing is mesmerising and I am sure you won't be able to put it down!

Info: Some violent scenes in the book and definitely a perfect book for boys!

Thank you so much to Gillian for sending me her book!


  1. I read this last year, and it's a great fantasy - probably not for younger readers, but powerful and brilliant for anyone old enough to fall in love with Seth, and I can't wait for the sequels!

  2. Yay! Wooo hoooo! So glad that you love it. Firebrand is just brilliant. I love Seth and Conal and you're right, the wolves are just darlings. Fantastic review.

  3. Ooh - very interesting about the gender angle. I must get my hands on this.