In the Birth of the Firebringer, the first of a trilogy by fantasy author Meredith Ann Pierce, the reader is plunged into the fantastic world of the unicorns. The tale follows Alijan, or dark moon, the prince of the unicorns. This proud race has been driven out of their ancestral home by a sly race name wyerns. Now they are at war to once again return to their home. They take temporary residence in a Vale and must withstand attacks from vicious carnivorous gryphons. The herd anxiously awaits the arrival of the one called the Firebringer, for he is destined to lead the unicorns into their past glory.
Jan cares little for such matters. He is still a coal, an uninitiated warrior. He longs to become a full-fledged member of the herd; however, his stern father, Prince Korr, frowns upon his disobedience and wild antics. One day, a gryphon pair flies into the Vale to assassinate the king. Jan finds the female and slays her, earning approval in his fatherˇ¦s eye. His father allows him to journey with other uninitiated warriors to their lost homeland and drink from the Mirror of the Moon. There, Alma the mother-of-all will bless him with a vision with his future and he will become a true warrior of the unicorns.
The group must past through the Pan Woods, inhabited by unfriendly goatlings called Pans. Jan is surprised to learn that they are sentient unlike what he has been taught. There he sees for the first time, the mystery of fire. Also he learns that renegades, the unicorns of the free plains are not all outcasts and outlaws.
The warriors reach the Mirror. All of the fledglings drink from the pool and say their sacred vows. Jan is dismayed not to receive a vision, so in tears he plans to leave and join the renegades. Accidentally, he stumbles upon the lair of a wyern, the keeper of the wyern's flame. She wants him to betray his father, but cleverly, Jan tricks her into revealing more secrets of the fire. His friends Dagg and Tek come to his aid and help him defeat the wyern. Jan is suffering from a wound from the poisonous wyern's stinger. Tek's daughter, a mysterious Red Mare, heals him and hints that Jan is meant for a special destiny.
Jan returns home to find out that his grandsire is dead. His father Korr is crowned king, and he is crowned prince. After his ordeal, Jan bears the markings of the Firebringer, a moon on his brow and a star on his heel.
This report prepared by Joanna