Amazon.com product description:
Ilya, son of a Russian prince, is largely ignored by his father and tormented by his larger, older brothers. His only friends are three old people: a priest, a magician, and a woman who toils in the palace dairy. From them Ilya learns faith, a smattering of magic, and the power of love--all of which he will need desperately, for his life is about to be turned upside-down.Firebird is a really good retelling of a Russian fairytale, or at least that's what I think. I'm less familiar with the Russian tales than I am some of the European ones (and I'm not especially familiar with those), but regardless of how accurate Mercedes Lackey's Firebird is or is not, it's still a really good tale.
The prince’s magnificent cherry orchard is visited at midnight by the legendary Firebird, whose wings are made of flame. Ilya's brothers’ attempts capture the magical creature fail. When Ilya tries to catch the Firebird, he sees her as a beautiful woman and earns a magical gift: the speech of animals.
Banished, the young man journeys through a fantastical Russia full of magical mazes, enchanted creatures, and untold dangers. As happens in the best fairy tales, Ilya falls in love with an enchanted princess, but to win her freedom will be no easy task.
There are definitely echoes of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series in here, but both are working from more or less the same source material, so similarities are to be expected. Either way this is a quick and charming read (I read the whole thing last night after work). It is a fairly typical Mercedes Lackey story, and she's used a couple of lines that I've seen in her other books. Of course, if you like her stories, it's bound to bring on a chuckle or two, or at least a smile.
As with most Mercedes Lackey books, Firebird is suitable for everyone from early teens to adults of any age. I should note, however, that I've been told by several people that this is a reissue of an earlier book, so some people may already have it.
I recommend this if you like Mercedes Lackey books in general, but also if you like fairy-tale retellings, which are something she's done a lot of it seems. There's this one (which Amazon.com calls Fairy Tales Book 1, although I don't know what the other books are), The Black Swan, the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, and also several of the Elemental Masters books.