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Fires of the Faithful Book Review Summary

Detailed Plot Synopsis of Fires of the Faithful

Eliana is a dedicated music student at a conservatory. Her greatest dream is to become a member of an ensemble to perform in the prestigious Imperial Court. Although Eliana is caught up in her music and her studies, she cannot help but worry about how the famine that is ravaging the land is affecting her family at home. When she gets a new roommate, Mira, she begins to learn of the old religion. For the first time in her life, she begins to doubt the Fedeli, a fearsome religious order who rules the kingdom and is systematically stamping out all traces of the land's old beliefs. But Mira is not exactly what she seems... there are powerful people looking for her and they are not afraid to kill to get what or who they want...

When one of her friends is brutally murdered and Mira disappears, Eliana no longer sees any point in making music. She leaves the conservatory and tries to return home. However, when she arrives at her village, it is empty and all that is left are scattered bones. There are rumors that the survivors of the massacre were taken to a concentration camp on the borders of the kingdom. Desperate to regain some sense of normality in her life, Eliana goes to the concentration camp and soon finds herself the focal point for a rebellion centered around the old religious ways. Although she doesn't know how to lead, the people are desperate for someone who will be their leader, no matter how young or inexperienced...

I liked Fires of the Faithful, but I didn't love it. I felt that I was just starting to connect with Eliana as a music student when she was abruptly ripped out of that world and became some political/military leader in a completely different place. The transition between the two worlds that Eliana habitated was just too abrupt. However, Kritzer's characters were engaging and she has quite a few of them for the reader to get to know so there are always side plots that seem to make more sense than the main plot of the book. The plot was a little forced and a little predictable, but the author does have a few surprises up her sleeve. One of the most surprising things about the book was the focus on religion. It was somewhat distasteful at times as there were too many direct comparisons between the Fedeli and the Roman Catholic church. The setting definitely has the feel of medieval Italy with many Italian sounding names and places. Another surprise was the fact that Eliana is a lesbian and is trying to deal with her attraction to other females. Nothing really happens, but it was a surprise.
This report prepared by Debbie



The setting is an enigma; at first, it seems to be a trite imaginary Renaissance fantasy setting, complete with sorcery and an emerging scholarly class. Later on, however, one begins to realize the error as the novel begins to suggest a future in which the religious tides are turned. The empire is in the midst of a war and famine, although, as one imagines was the case from the feudal peasant perspective, it is not altogether certain who is being fought or why.

The main character, Eliana, a young conservatory student, practices the violin in a relative haven from the turmoil, far from her family's village. All is going well until she gains a new friend...a mysterious girl of great talent and a penchant for playing forbidden tunes. Music which carries a simple magic of its own, and comes from the old religious rituals. The Fedeli, an Inquisition-like organization, storms the conservatory in search of anyone who practices the Old Ways. Soon Eliana is fleeing her school and the Lady's Guards even as she escapes her old shackles of religious thought.

Our protagonist has embarked on a thrilling journey through rubble and wartime tragedy, struggling to find her family and her own identity as a heretic. She emerges, finally, as a reluctant but very sympathetic (from our perspective) heroine...leader of the bedraggled practitioners of the Old Ways.

The book is remarkable for its contrasts in depiction: the pleasant, cloistered conservatory versus the war-torn and magical energy-depleted countryside outside its walls; the sophisticated Lady's faithful against the comparatively illiterate, peasant heretical ascetics; Eliana's sheltered girlishness and the fierce, sanguine commander of the soldiers in the Old Way.

Kritzer's religious studies are fairly well showcased in this spiritual and political fantasy. Particularly noteworthy is her juxtaposition between the religious groups and the unique twist she brings to the story by her choice of real-world influence for the Old Ways. An excellent choice for fans of C.S. Lewis, Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series, and Clive Barker's "Imagica."
This report prepared by Stefanie "Nin"





Bantam, Oct 2002, 6.99, 400 pp.
ISBN 0553585177

The only thing sixteen-year-old Eliana is looking forward to is graduating the Verdiano Rural Conservatory and performing at the Imperial Court. She doesn't question the religion of the Lord and the Lady, or the magery that most people love or use or the Fedeli who eradicate all traces of heresy. The war and famine in the world doesn't touch the budding musicians who are insulated from anything that unpleasant.

Eliana's views change when the Fedeli come and kill one of her closest friends and kidnap her roommate. She leaves the conservatory, rejects the Circle of mages and the official religion, and turns to the Old Ways. She discovers that the famine is caused by the Mage's use of sorcery and ends up in a refugee camp where she becomes the rallying point of a people that desperately need a leader that will fix their world.

FIRES OF THE FAITHFUL is an enthralling fantasy saga very reminiscent of the Joan of Arc story. Readers get so caught up in the heroine's world that they actually feel they are a camp follower. Naomi Kritzer is an expert at characterizations and plotting, so much so that the audience will want to finish it in one sitting and put it on the keeper shelf.

Harriet Klausner
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner





Bantam, Oct 2002, 6.99, 400 pp.
ISBN 0553585177

The only thing sixteen-year-old Eliana is looking forward to is graduating the Verdiano Rural Conservatory and performing at the Imperial Court. She doesn't question the religion of the Lord and the Lady, or the magery that most people love or use or the Fedeli who eradicate all traces of heresy. The war and famine in the world doesn't touch the budding musicians who are insulated from anything that unpleasant.

Eliana's views change when the Fedeli come and kill one of her closest friends and kidnap her roommate. She leaves the conservatory, rejects the Circle of mages and the official religion, and turns to the Old Ways. She discovers that the famine is caused by the Mage's use of sorcery and ends up in a refugee camp where she becomes the rallying point of a people that desperately need a leader that will fix their world.

FIRES OF THE FRUITFUL is an enthralling fantasy saga very reminiscent of the Joan of Arc story. Readers get so caught up in the heroine's world that they actually feel they are a camp follower. Naomi Kritzer is an expert at characterizations and plotting, so much so that the audience will want to finish it in one sitting and put it on the keeper shelf.

Harriet Klausner
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner








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Chapter Analysis of Fires of the Faithful

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 37.5%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 42.5%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 10% Tone of book    -   sensitive (sigh....)    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy world/fantasy past Coming of age    -   Yes Youngster becomes    -   guardian of justice Political power play    -   Yes Political plotlets    -   overthrowing govt/kingdom Inner Struggle    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   coping with mental/magical powers Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Religious overtones?    -   Yes

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   musician Age:    -   a teen

Setting

Earth setting:    -   during "Tolkien" (fairytime) times Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment How much dialogue?    -   significantly more dialog than descript    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Naomi Kritzer Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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