A mysterious foundling with unique red hair and strange god-given powers, Firethorn is condemned to life as a powerless servant--or so she believes, until one of King Thyrse's noblemen becomes her lover. But, as she accompanies Sire Galan to war, Firethorn discovers she may have traded one form of bondage for another. A soldier's mistress--even a high-born soldier's mistress--is despised as a "sheath," or camp follower. Also, Firethorn's nasty ex-overlord, Sire Pava, has joined the king's army, and she has made a new enemy in her lover's cousin and closest friend, the sadistic Sire Rodela. However, she and Galan share a fiery love that will surely overcome the opposition of both their personal enemies and their kingdom's enemies. Then Sire Galan makes a strange, heart-shattering wager that may not only ruin his honor, but get them both killed.
Bloody, insightful, emotionally wrenching, and beautifully written, Firethorn is the impressive first volume of an epic fantasy trilogy. It's also an astonishingly assured debut novel that foretells Sarah Micklem's place among authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jacqueline Carey, Terry Goodkind, and Rosemary Sutcliff at the top rank of high fantasists. --Cynthia Ward