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Fire Bringer cover
|Genre||Young adult, Fantasy|
|Publisher||MacMillan UK (UK) & Puffin Books (US)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||512 (US Paperback)|
Fire Bringer is a young adult fantasy novel by David Clement-Davies published in 1999, in the United Kingdom and 2000, in the United States. It tells the story of Rannoch, a red deer whose life is the subject of an old prophecy among the deer.
Fire Bringer is the story of Rannoch, a red deer born in 13th-century Scotland. Rannoch is born with a white mark on his forehead resembling an oak leaf, the symbol of the deer god, Herne. To the Herla, as the deer are called among animals, the white mark is the symbol of a prophecy foretelling the birth of a deer with the ability to communicate with all animals who would bring freedom to the Herla.
The story begins the night Rannoch's father, Brechin, is murdered, and his mother, Eloin, is forced to become the mate of the Lord of the Herd, Drail. Rannoch is adopted by another doe, Bracken. However, soon Drail decides to kill Rannoch and the other fawns out of fear of the prophecy. When Eloin finds out, she warns Bracken and the other mothers that their fawns are in danger; however, only some of them listen. So Rannoch, Bracken, five other fawns, and their mothers flee Drail's herd and take refuge with another, which they believe will be a place of safety.
Soon, however, human hunters attack their new herd. Rannoch helps his friends by drawing off one of the hunters' dogs but is injured in the process, after which the other deer believe him to be dead. Rannoch is found by a human boy who takes him home, where the boy and his mother keep him safe while his leg heals.
Meanwhile, one of Drail's servants, Sgorr, tricks and murders Drail and militarizes the herd by making the stags sharpen their antlers, training and drilling the young bucks and having them gore each other in the forehead to make permanent scars. Sgorr slowly expands his territory over many herds, intending to make himself lord over all Herla. He finds the herd where Bracken and the other mothers and fawns have hidden, and the herd's new leader gives them up to Sgorr.
After his leg heals, Rannoch struggles growing up without a herd. He stays close to the human dwelling and slowly begins to lose his ability to speak to other animals. One day, a mole who has become his friend tells him his time around the humans is changing him, and Rannoch decides to leave. He returns to his herd, intending to learn more about the prophecy.
When he finds his friends again, they embark on a journey to the mountains to find the mythical herd of the deer god, Herne. Herne's herd is not the utopia the deer believed it would be, and after Rannoch disperses it, he and his friends form their own herd, sheltering other stragglers from Sgorr. However, Rannoch and his new herd disagree about whether they should fight back against Sgorr. Rannoch, torn between taking action and keeping the peace, tries to dissuade them, but his friends leave him to join the fight.
Searching for answers alone, Rannoch discovers that Sgorr has a terrible secret: he once killed a human child and ate its heart. Knowing Sgorr is evil, Rannoch returns to his friends on the battlefield. He defeats Sgorr, aided by all the animals in the forest, and in doing so fulfills the prophecy.
When the Lore is bruised and broken,
Shattered like a blasted tree,
Then shall Herne be justly woken,
Born to set the Herla free.
On his brow a leaf of oaken,
Changeling child shall be his fate.
Understanding words strange spoken,
Chased by anger, fear, and hate.
He shall flee o'er hill and heather,
And shall go where no deer can,
Knowing secrets dark to Lera.
Till his need shall summon man.
Air, water, earth, and fire,
All shall ease his bitter pain,
Till the elements conspire,
To restore the Island Chain.
First the High Land grass shall flower,
As he quests through wind and snow,
Then he breaks an ancient power,
And returns to face his foe.
When the Lord of Lies upbraids him,
Then his wrath shall cloak the sun,
And the Herla's foe shall aid him
To confront the evil one.
Sacrifice shall be his meaning,
He the darkest secret learn,
Truths of beast and man revealing,
Touching on the heart of Herne.
Fawn of moonlight ever after,
So shall all the Herla sing.
For his days shall herald laughter,
Born a healer and a king.
- Brechin (Red Deer)
Rannoch's father and Eloin's mate. He was a respected Outrider captain, who was killed early on in the story by Drail and Sgorr.
- Eloin (Red Deer)
Rannoch's mother and Brechin's mate. She successfully saves Rannoch from Drail and Sgorr at the beginning of the book, allowing him to escape with Bracken and the others. Also, after Rannoch's escape, she was forced to become part of Drail's (and later Sgorr's) harem.
- Rannoch (Red Deer)
The main protagonist and son of Brechin and Eloin. He was targeted by Sgorr and Drail due to having a prophetical white oak leaf on his forehead, which prompted him to run away from the herd early on in the story with Bhreac, Bracken, Fern, Alyth, Shira, and Canisp, Peppa, Willow, Bankfoot, Tain, and Thistle. He endured a long journey with his friends before eventually falling into a hunter's hole and breaking his leg. After falling into the hole, he was found by a kind human family that helped him recover from his injury, but after a while he escaped captivity in order to find his friends again. Once he finds them, they scale The Great Mountain and overthrow Herne's Herd together, and Rannoch becomes 'Healer of all Lera'. After the coup, Rannoch becomes docile, isolated, and an advocate for peace among Lera. However, after hearing the news that his mother was killed, he decided to lead his herd to fight Sgorr, the one responsible for Elion's death. After a difficult fight, Rannoch claimed victory over Sgorr. We then get to see Rannoch grow old with Willow and his herd, and eventually die peacefully.
- Sgorr (Red Deer)
The main antagonist. He had a dark past that was filled with secrets, his most shocking one being that he killed a human child while he was still a member of Herne's Herd. He had a very strange appearance; only one eye, no antlers, and sharpened teeth. Sgorr was incredibly sadistic and power-hungry, and was responsible for the creation of 'The Great Herd' and an army of violent, scarred deer called 'Sgorrla' that helped enforce his policies and killed Lera.
- Bhreac (Red Deer)
An old doe who fleed the herd with Rannoch. She died saving Quaich from a river.
- Blindweed (Red Deer)
An old, wise storyteller who was friends with Bhreac, Rannoch, and Eloin. He was killed by Drail and Sgorr after he was overheard talking about Rannoch's prophecy.
- Bracken (Red Deer)
Bracken pretended to be Rannoch's mother for a short period of time. She did so to protect Rannoch from the Sgorrla who were trying to hunt down and kill Brechin's offspring. She was later killed by one of Sgorr's assassins.
- Drail (Red Deer)
The first antagonist and 'Lord of Herds.' He was later betrayed and killed by Sgorr, who took his place.
- Tain (Red Deer)
One of Rannoch's good friends, who later became an Outrider Captain.
- Thistle (Red Deer)
One of Rannoch's childhood friends. When the time came to fight Sgorr, Thistle lead the deer that are willing to fight into battle. He was an arrogant and cocky character, and loathed Rannoch's peaceful and kind nature, which caused him to decide to defy Rannoch and fight Sgorr. He was killed by a Sgorrla in the Final Battle.
- Bankfoot (Red Deer)
Rannoch's best friend, who was often bullied by Thistle as a fawn because of his stutter and weight. However, he eventually became Captain of the Outriders.
- Peppa (Red Deer)
Willow's twin sister and Bankfoot's love interest. She was very kind and gentle, but was unfortunately killed in the battle against Sgorr.
- Willow (Red Deer)
Peppa's twin sister and Rannoch's love interest, who later becomes his mate.
- Birrmagnur (Reindeer)
A reindeer and one of Rannoch's good friends. He was brought to the High Land by men.
- Colquhar (Red Deer)
An antagonist at first, Colquar was an Outrider who turned Rannoch's friends over to Sgorr. Later on in the story we see him kill the Lord of his new herd and become Lord himself. However, after being called to meet with Sgorr about his leadership; he was captured, blinded, and forced to live in Sgorr's herd. Colquar was able to redeem himself when he was able to buy the Outriders some time during the Final Battle
- Bandach (Red Deer)
A young buck who gives Brechin the message about the "council meeting" that Brechin was expected at. However the "meeting" was actually a trap that led to Brechin's death.
- Narl (Red Deer)
Sgorr's loyal servant.
- Haarg (Red Deer)
The lead stag of the Slave Herd that later befriends Rannoch.
- Liath (Red Deer)
The head doe of the Slave Herd.
- Crak (Raven)
A raven who helps Rannoch while on his journey. He persuades many birds to help Rannoch in The Final Battle.
- The Wolf
A wolf whose life gets saved by Rannoch, who heals his injuries and brings him back to health. Later the wolf gets his pack to help Rannoch in The Final Battle.
- Rurl (Seal)
A seal who helps Rannoch by telling him about the ocean and man. He also takes Rannoch to the island where Sgorr's secret is buried.
- Teek (Roe Deer)
A deer who informs Rannoch about Herne's Herd.
- The Mole
A friend to Rannoch while he is being kept by Liam. He helps Rannoch realize that the boy has tamed him and is keeping him as a pet, a realization that convinces Rannoch that he should leave.
- Shira (Red deer)
Tain's mother. She was kept alive by Sgorr so that he could use her to keep Eloin in line by threatening to kill her whenever Eloin defied him.
- Canisp (Red Deer)
Bankfoot's mother. She was kept alive by Sgorr so that he could use her to keep Eloin in line by threatening to kill her whenever Eloin defied him.
- Alyth (Red Deer)
Thistle's mother. She was killed by Sgorrla while Rannoch's friends were fleeing.
- Braan (Red Deer)
An Outrider of the Herd on the Loch.
- Liam (Human Boy)
A human boy who manages to tame Rannoch, but later releases him. Later in the story, Liam kills Sgorr but lets Rannoch live.
- Quaich (Red Deer)
One of Rannoch's friends who stayed in the Deer Park with his mother due to his weakened condition, but he later returns to fight Sgorr.