Where is the Bird of Fire? (1970)

A collection of three fantasy stories by Thomas Burnett Swann. In all three stories he takes us into the past, into the ancient times when the civilizations that arose around the Mediterranean Sea were the center of the world. The first story tells about Romulus and Remus, the mythological founders of Rome.

The second story is about Vashti, the wife of the Persian king Xerxes I, who was deposed of her royalty because she refused a request of her husband to show himself naked. Was it because she might have been a Jinn and feared to be found out? The last story is about Deidre, a Druid enchantress who wants to ensnare a Roman merchant, to make her his wife.

The plot of all three stories is rather straight forward, no big twist or surprises ahead. The plot itself isn’t the strength of the stories. The thing where Swann can point is in his writing, he is able to recreate the ancient world and make it full of magic. After reading the stories you feel as if there had once been a golden age, an age now mostly forgotten, full of love and tragedy and wonder. And Swann can open the door into that magic age again, show you the wonders of the past. For my taste the characters are just a tad to naive and the whole style a bit too poetic.