The 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.I read and reviewed Firebird back in 2010, but over the intervening years I'd managed to forget most of the details until I re-read the book a few days ago, so it was almost like reading it for the first time again.
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.
That said, one of the things that always draws me to Firebird is the cover art. It's some of the most beautiful I've seen on a Mercedes Lackey novel, and it's what pulled me into the read this time. In reality, I'm waiting for my ordered copy of Freedom's Choice to arrive so I can continue to read that series. So, a book I know is a moderately quick though gripping read was a good choice in my mine. At the same time, it sparked a reading streak.
I've started racing through the retellings of various fairy-tales that Mercedes Lackey has written - mostly in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. Firebird led me to Fortune's Fool and then to The Snow Queen. Now I want to re-read One Good Knight, which I don't seem to have in my collection. I also want to hunt down Black Swan, which she wrote years ago.
Anyway, back to Firebird. This one's based on the Russian tale of the Firebird, and maintains the storyline as far as I can tell. At the same time, I'm fairly certain that Mercedes Lackey has added her own twists to the story. I'm just not familiar enough with her source material to know, though I can guess as to some of them.
As I noted in my previous review, there are a few lines that will make anyone familiar with her works laugh - because you'll recognize them from previous books. Still, they suit the situation and they gave me a chuckle, so I'm not complaining.
Definitely a book I recommend, especially if you have a soft spot in your heart for fairy-tales.