Fire Bringer

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 born in ancient Scotland — the night his father was murdered. But Rannoch is no ordinary deer; he is special, for he bears a white mark on his forehead resembling an oak leaf. To the Herla, as the red deer called themselves, this white mark holds great meaning and power, for it was stated in a prophecy that the deer who was born with the mark would bring freedom to all Herla in the future, and that the bearer of the oak mark would have the ability to communicate with all animals. First however, Rannoch must survive. Bucks formerly brawled and fought for the leadership, but that way was erased completely, instead replaced by a Lord of Herds, Sgorr, who has militarized the herd by making the stags sharpen their horns, training and drilling the young bucks, and will take no resistance. He realizes the threat Rannoch poses to his leadership. Rannoch escapes from the herd, but deep down in his heart, he knows that he must return, in order to unite the deer, and end Sgorr's reign of terror.

Plot Summary

The first chapter is by turns terrifying and moving. A herd of red deer in the Scottish lowlands is facing a desperate situation. Drail, the tyrannical leader of the herd, and his sinister second-in-command Sgorr are plotting to consolidate their hold over the deer. They plan to destroy the Outriders, an elite group of male deer who are charged with scouting and watching over the herd. Brechin is one of the finest of the Outriders. He is torn between his fear for the herd and his concern for his favourite mate, Eloin, who is about to give birth to their fawn.

Drail plans to do away with Anlach, the time when the male deer fight for mates and for the rulership of the herd. This is such an alteration of nature that to the deer it is like "abolishing the forest itself." Drail and Sgorr strike suddenly to do away with the Outriders. Meanwhile, Eloin gives birth to a fawn, called Rannoch, with a mark like an oak leaf. The oak leaf is one of the signs of a legendary Prophecy among the deer, of a deer who will restore peace and order among his people. Eloin fears for her fawn's life. She allows another deer (Bracken) to act as his surrogate mother so that the herd leaders will not know that he is Brechin's son. This is just the start of a strange life for the fawn in which his oak leaf mark is concealed and he does not know that he is a changeling.

Rannoch's story is undoubtedly that of a messiah. When he is less than a year old, he is threatened by a massacre of the innocents, part of Sgorr's plan to eliminate rumors of a fawn who might fulfil the Prophecy. Still unaware of his own significance, he flees along with other young ones and their mothers. Some of the fawns during this flight are his friends Tain, Thistle, and Bankfoot along with some new fawns twim does Willow and Peppa and Quiach. Along the way, they meet strange herds of deer, first a fallow deer herd with strange beliefs of honour. Due to his sickening condition, Quiach's mother decided to stay with the fallow in order for her son to recover. During their journey to the High land, the herd had lost old Bhreac, a kind old hind, during a river crossing. After the death of Bhreac, Bracken and Rannoch lead the herd to a red deer herd lead by a stag named Tharn independent of Drail and Sgorr. The hinds and their adolescent fawns remained in the herd for about two years. But during the first spring of their stat, a deer hunt with dogs were terrorizing the herd. One of the dogs had spotted Rannoch and Willow, now yearlings, and pursued to kill them. While the dogs were intents on chasing Willow, Rannoch distracted the dogs and they chase him instead, ultimately leading the proposed death of Rannoch.

The next part of the book after a couple years, Drail and Sgorr had overheard Blindweed, an old storytelling stag, about Rannoch's birth and Bracken's stillborn fawn. Intrigued by the idea, a group of stags beaten Blindweed until he finally spat out the existence of Rannoch. The beating had actually killed the stag and shorty after Drail, Sgorr, Eloin and a group of stag ran in pursuit to Tharn's herd, although Tharn had been occidentally killed by a stag named Colquhar. Along the way, Sgorr kills Drail and ended up the Lord of Herds. When Colquhar was confronted, in fear of his own safety, he ordered the Outriders to turn in the fugitive does and their children. With some careful planning, the young deer Willow, Peppa, Tain and Thistle ended up escaping to the highland for freedom. In spite of her age and health, Bracken decided to join in the flight. After the deer had left, Sgorr noticed that the young deer had left, and in payment he ended up having two of the deer's mothers: Alyth and Fern, murdered, with only two hinds coming back safe to poor Eloin.

As the story goes on, we learn that Rannoch isn't dead after all. He was just injured by the dogs and fell into a pit, where he encountered a mole. As the yearling talked to the mole, the mole dug away as two pre-teen boys came to rescue the deer. One of the boys, Liam, brought Rannoch back to his house where he and his parents nursed the yearling back to health. Naming the deer, "Herne" after the Celtic god of the woods, Rannoch became a pet to Liam and gradually forgot his life life in the wild and the other deer. He remind in captivity until he was a young adult stag of three years. After two years of captivity. the mole that he had encounted found him and Rannoch had all his memories back and yearned for freedom. As if he can communicate with the boy by Telepathy, Liam had set Rannoch free into the wild. After his release, Rannoch went on a journey to find his friends and mother.

During his journey, he met other animals along the way. First he meet an otter by the name of Keela whose mate was deathly ill. After listening to what Keela said about seaweed as medicine, Rannoch travelled to the sea, where he meet a wise harbour seal named Rurl, who like Rannoch, can talk to all the other animals. But unlike Ranncog, whose power is limited on him, Rurl said that communication isn't limited in the sea. After their conversation, Rurl pointed out that dry seaweed washed up by tide will help Keela's mate recover. After collecting the seaweed, Rannoch ventured back to Keela and gave the seaweed to his mate. Later, we learn that Keela's mate had recovered. As Rannoch ventured north, he was chased by a pack of wolves. While he was running near this waterfall, the Alpha male of the pack fell off the waterfall and laid on the shore, alive but badly injured. Rannoch, because of his kind and caring nature, decided to nurse the wolf back to health by feeding him nuts and berries. While this was a hate-like relationship, Rannoch was able to talk to the wolf and they had some nice conversations. After the wolf finally recovered, the wolf, trying to hold back his will the kill and eat Rannoch, told him to flee from himself before he cracked and ended up preying upon the deer.

To be continued.......... The Prophecy also describes "a healer and a king." Gradually, Rannoch becomes aware that he has certain unusual powers. He resists the idea that he might be the fulfiller of the Prophecy.

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