by Roger Zotti
Wethersfield’s Firsid Barsa said her latest work, “The Final Conflict” (AuthorHouse), is “an epic, a saga, in the science fiction-fantasy genre. The story takes place over a period of 20-25 years, and the reason for such a broad canvas is it allows me to put in events that interest me, like wars and revolutions, insurgencies, and that sort of thing.” The novel is the final book in Firsid’s Janissary trilogy and is a wonderful, imaginative piece of writing.
Firsid hopes readers take away from the book, she noted, “the basic fundamentals of a humanistic philosophy.” More specifically, “I’d like them to really think about why we are the way we are, why we live in these kinds of societies, why some people rich and some poor, and why there so much conflict in society and what can be done about it.”
I asked Firsid why she writes and she said, “Good question and I don’t even know if I have an answer. I think the reason is probably something mundane, like it makes me feel better. Provides psychological release.” As for the revising, Firsid said, “It’s very tedious. Sometimes I kept going at it over and over. It just seems sometimes to go on forever.” Of course, at a certain point she stopped. “Once I sent in the final galleys, but even then, in fact, I had to stop myself from looking at any of it afterwards because I’d think about changing this or that word.”
In Field Marshall Konchak, the main character, Firsid created one of contemporary literature’s most complex, unpredictable characters. Is he courageous? Is he weak? (After all, he faints when he comes upon mutilated bodies.) Is he sane? Insane? Put simply, Firsid’s skill as an artist enabled her to create a character who isn’t easy to understand, which makes him believable and interesting. Like many of Dostoevsky’s characters, Konchak resonates long after you’ve finish this absorbing, satisfying novel.
A crucial chapter is titled “Kalipchia’s Letter,” and it involves Kalipchia, Konchak’s sister; the Janissary goddess Crekorana; Tatishe, Konchak’s niece; and of course Konchak. Of those characters, Tatishe achieves a towering importance: We learn who her real father is and about her “special destiny,” which has to do with freeing “the ancient gods” who are “entombed.” It’s a startling chapter and adds another dimension to Konchak’s character.
There’s a prequel Firsid wrote to go along with the trilogy. “It’s a novella, and that story, plus the trilogy, is basically the content of the universe I created,” she explained. Titled “The Rescuer,” the novella “goes back in time and actually can be read before or after the trilogy. If you read it before, you’d be prepared for a lot of things. If you read it after the trilogy, some of the science fiction elements, the gods and goddesses the Janissaries worshipped, and the supernatural elements in the storyline [are explained].”