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The Firebird Trilogy is a set of Space Opera novels by Kathy Tyers. Originally a duology released in the late '80s, in 2001 the series was rewritten to incorporate Christian themes and re-released, and a third book was added. In 2011, a fourth book came out, with a fifth and final book slated to be released in 2012.

Lady Firebird Angelo is a royal wastling, born only to ensure that the royal line of Netaia does not die out and fated to commit honorable suicide now that her eldest sister has had two children. As a skilled military pilot, Firebird is ordered into the first wave of the attack against Veroh, a planet under Federate protection, under orders to seek honorable death in combat. Unfortunately for her plans, her mental cry of distress over the death of her wingman (and best friend) is noticed by the telepathic Special Operations officer, Brennen Caldwell, piquing his interest. He orders her captured.

While interrogating her via mind access, he realizes that they are perfectly connatural: their brains function in the exact same way, potentially enabling them to connect far more deeply than they could with anyone who was not connatural with them. Not wanting to lose the only person perfectly connatural with him, Brennen offers Firebird Federate asylum. Firebird is thus forced to choose between her desire to live and her proud loyalty to a country that demands her death.

The series includes these books:

  • Firebird
  • Fusion Fire
  • Crown of Fire
  • Their New Masters (short story)
  • Wind and Shadow
  • Daystar
Tropes used in Firebird Trilogy include:
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Brennen's reaction to Phoena's death.
  • Badass Princess: Firebird, while not technically a princess because of the Netaian inheritance structure, qualifies. She had a choice between going into advanced music studies or going into the military. She chose the military, and has repeatedly demonstrated her fighting skills. She also has no diplomatic skills, contrasting with Princess Classic Carradee and Politically-Active Princess Phoena.
  • Big Bad:
    • Firebird: Phoena Angelo.
    • Fusion Fire: Eshdeth Shirak.
    • Crown of Fire: Modabah Shirak.
    • Wind and Shadow: The Shadow possessing Tamím Bar'Baror.
  • Character Title: The first book, Firebird, is named after the main character, Firebird.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • The operation of the dendric striker:

 "It causes all the central motor neurons to fire. Every muscle contracts, every synapse sparks as if it were insane. It will near your muscles from the bones, and eventually stop your breathing . . . but it leaves sensory nerves intact to the very end."

    • The worst of the Netaian execution methods fall under this, too. There's the D-wave rifles, which disrupt and then destroy nerve cells, crazing the victim with pain. And then there's lustration, which is when super-heated plates are set at the end of the prisoner's extremities and very slowly moved inwards, vaporizing flesh and bone but leaving the victim alive until the plates reach the torso.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: The Sentinels are well aware of the dangers their powers entail, and therefore hold themselves to a high moral standard.
  • Conveniently Coherent Thoughts: Somewhat justified, as the telepaths don't merely read the thoughts off the surface off the mind; they are actively directing what they see.
  • Crapsack World: Three Zed. Netaia isn't exactly a barrel of laughs, either.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Federacy seems to be taking a turn for this. Well, given the political backdrop when Jesus walked the earth...
  • Defector From Decadence: Firebird, Terza Shirak.
  • Double Meaning Title: Wind and Shadow refers to the main female character, Wind Haworth, and the main antagonist, who is a Shadow, as well as to the book's thematic elements: the ability of people to heal or to harm (wind, which can be beneficial or devastating) and spiritual darkness and temptation (shadow).
  • The Dragon:
    • Firebird: Tel Tellai.
    • Fusion Fire: Dru Polar.
    • Crown of Fire: Micahel Shirak.
    • Wind and Shadow: Jahana.
  • Expy: Tiala Caldwell, of Mary.
    • Kinnor Caldwell, of Lazarus.
    • Subverted with Kiel Caldwell, who does not become an Expy of Caiaphas.
    • Tavkel Caldwell does not count as an Expy because He is Jesus.
  • Heel Face Turn: Tel Tellai, slowly over the course of the second book.
  • Fake Memories: A not infrequent tactic of the Shuhr, usually combined with Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • False-Flag Operation: The Shuhr had one in the works to turn the Federacy against the Sentinels in Crown of Fire.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Angelo family has traditionally been named after Netaian birds.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: People travel from planet to planet by "jumping" into Slip Space.
  • The Federation: The Federacy.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each book's name is based off of the main female character's name: Firebird, Fusion Fire, and Crown of Fire with Firebird; and Wind and Shadow with Wind Haworth.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Brennen has eyes which are described as a penetrating, icy blue; this reflects both his telepathic powers and his exceptional ability to control his own emotions (a power related to the telepathy), which gives him an aloof air.
  • Irony: Dru Polar is defeated by the exact same ability/technique he was trying to create to increase his own power.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In several varieties.
    • The Shuhr can induce this in their victims, so that the victim doesn't remember the less pleasant aspects of their treatment.
    • The Sentinel Special Ops forces have a learned trigger which will cause them to forget any and all sensitive information they might know. (This overlaps with Psychic Block Defense.)
  • Living Lie Detector: Brennen, and presumably most of the upper-level Shuhr.
  • Manchurian Agent: Devair Burkenhamn, courtesy of the Shuhr.
  • Mindlink Mates: Pair bonding, the natural outcome of sex for the telepathic races. The Shuhr have found a way to avoid this happening, allowing them to have sex without commitment. The Sentinels marry whomever they are compatible with (and only those they are compatible with--a pair bond between incompatible people causes both parties excruciating pain for the rest of their lives, as pair bonds are only breakable by death).
  • Mind Over Manners: The Sentinels have detailed limits (to the point of having a manual) on how they are allowed to use these powers. These limits are enforced by the Sentinel community, for two reasons: 1) Most Sentinels truly want to behave ethically; the limits provide fairly sound guidance as to what uses of their power are and are not ethical. 2) The limits and their enforcement are the boundary preventing a generally mistrustful public from panicking and deciding to wipe out all the Sentinels.
  • Mind Probe: Both Sentinels and Shuhr/Mikuhrans are capable of this, although the Sentinels are only allowed to use it in very limited situations (such as for military interrogation).
  • Monster Sob Story: Poor, poor Arac Nahazh.
  • The Namesake: Fusion Fire refers to the enormous burst of energy created by reverse-polarity (telepathic) fusion, a technique which is first seen about halfway through that book and first used successfully during the climax.
  • Offing the Offspring: Younger children of the Queen/nobles of Netaia are to commit suicide once their older siblings have secured the succession.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Shef'th!
  • Politically-Active Princess: Phoena Angelo is very politically active. After the Federacy takes over Netaia, she heads the resistance group and spearheads research into a biological Weapon of Mass Destruction capable of wiping out an entire planet, which she intends to use to threaten the Federacy into withdrawing. She contrasts with her Princess Classic older sister, Carradee, and her Badass Princess younger sister, Firebird.
  • Pride: The chief failing of both Brennen and Firebird.
  • Princess Classic: Carradee Angelo is gentle, honorable, sweet, and rather uninterested in politics. Unfortunately for her, as eldest, she is the heir to the throne, which leads to her being thrust into ruling before she is truly ready for it. She contrasts with Phoena, who is a Politically-Active Princess, and Firebird, who is a Badass Princess.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: When they're not interested in playing with their victims, the Shuhr often resort to this to remove those who are no longer of use to them.
  • Psychic Block Defense: All telepaths have three forms of this:
    • A basic mind shield that blocks out the emotional signals of those around them.
    • A shield that keeps their own emotions under control.
    • A shield that prevents other telepaths from entering their mind, unless the other telepath is strong enough to break through the shield.
  • Psychic Powers: The defining feature of the Sentinels and the Shuhr/Mikuhran. Specific abilities include:
  • Psychic Static: The only way for a non-telepath to defeat a telepathic Mind Probe.
  • Racial Remnant: The planet Ehret was destroyed by civil war. Two groups fled the conflict. One group settled on an already populated planet and integrated into the existing structure, while still passing down Ehretan culture; they became the Sentinels. The other group settled on a previously barren world, creating a new culture that became known as the Shuhr (and later the Mikuhrans).
  • Sacred Language: The Sentinels use Ehretan for their holy ceremonies, and one of their holy books is forbidden from being translated out of Ehretan. The point of that prohibition was to keep the most important prophecies out of the hands of the Shuhr, but it turned out that the Shuhr still spoke Ehretan as their primary language.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Brennen initially assumes Firebird is a man, simply because she was a pilot in the attack phalanx of the Netaian invasion force. His assumption is corrected after she is captured.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: Crystaces have an edge a single atom thick.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: Rare heroic example, as state-of-the-art communication technology has ensured everyone hears the Word and understands the choice. The universe can therefore be remade.
  • Tongue-Tied: When Brennen tells Firebird about the prophecy his family is under, he first has to set up a mental block that prevents her from ever revealing the information she is about to learn to anyone else.
  • You Have Failed Me: Mook Arac Nahazh was in charge of the watch-link over The Mole who died under mysterious circumstances.
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