Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Martyr's Fire"

Martyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brouwer is a great novel for young readers who are interested in stories set in Medieval Britain.

The story continues from previous books with Thomas still in charge of Magnus. Trouble develops when Priests of the Holy Grail show up, performing miracles that quickly win over the populace. The book explains, through the musings of Thomas, that the church of the time was just as, if not more, powerful than members of the ruling class.

Through a trick that is explained to Thomas much later, the priests are able to take over Magnus, almost with no resistance.

Thomas, who is desperate for answers, ends up heading for the Holy Land, with a puppy in his arms, and Katherine trailing him. When Thomas tries to lay a trap for Katherine, she turns the tables on him, and he has to travel as her servant for the rest of the journey.

A couple of my favorite parts:

When Gervaise helps Thomas to escape. Thomas learns that the monk was tortured for information about him, but refused to give him up. In a very emotional scene, Thomas is forced to leave his friend behind as he escapes Magnus.

When Katherine manages to outwit Thomas in Lisbon. She is in complete control and so calm and poised about it all. I feel bad, though, for poor Thomas.

When Thomas points his sword at the three sailors only to have them slap themselves and fall down, unconscious. Then Thomas goes back to his room and keeps pointing his sword at things trying to make things happen.

Finally, when Katherine explains to Thomas how Merlin would teach people and called it school. I’m not sure where the idea for schools really started, but if it really was Merlin, I’ll take it.

Things that could have been better:

There was no real climax in this story. The chapters are very serial, almost like mini-stories, and it is obvious that this was a book in the middle of a series.

The continued agonizing on the parts of Katherine and Thomas over whether the other is an Immortal or a Druid is a bit frustrating after a while. I understand that it is supposed to add to the conflict, but I feel that it would have been more effective if even the reader didn’t know who was good or bad, or at least if we were unsure about Katherine.

Other than that, this was a fun story. Even though it isn’t strictly fantasy, as all of the fantastical elements are explained by science, it has the feel of fantasy about it. I would recommend this book to students of mine who need an easy read, but could benefit from reading more formal language. 

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

See other reviews:
Red Bissell Beckie Burnham Theresa Dunlap Emma or Audrey Engel April Erwin Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Becky Jesse Jason Joyner Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Rebekah Loper Jennette Mbewe Amber McCallister Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Writer Rani Nathan Reimer Jojo Sutis Steve Trower Phyllis Wheeler Deborah Wilson


  1. Good review, Rachel. I forgot about the frustration when I wrote mine, but I felt as you did. In Fortress of Mist I was more irritated with Katherine and Hawkwood for treating Thomas as if he were the enemy when all the evidence pointed the other direction. At least in this one Katherine has told him a little more. BTW, I must have missed what the title refers to. Is Hawkwood the Martyr? And the fire is . . . ? I meant to bring that up in my review, too, and it slipped my mind.


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    2. I think the title "Martyr's Fire" must refer to Gervaise. He is the one who gave up his life for the cause, and he was the only one who talked about the fire that Thomas would find in the secret passages. I think the fire is especially significant because it signals to Katherine and Hawkwood that Thomas is trustworthy (since he made the "leap of faith" and reached the fire).