Firebird (Fairy Tales, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Firebird (Fairy Tales #1)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  4,177 ratings  ·  113 reviews
A young nobleman, who has glimpsed the legendary, enchanted Firebird, is banished from his homeland. He journeys through a fantastical version of Old Russia, solving magical mazes and befriending a talking fox, before falling in love with the Firebird herself who is actually an enchanted maiden who has been waiting for true love to break the spell that holds her captive.
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 31st 1997 by Tor Fantasy (first published December 27th 1996)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleBeauty by Robin McKinleyThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanFairest by Gail Carson Levine
The Best Fairytales and Retellings
127th out of 1,460 books — 6,366 voters
A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. BunceSun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day GeorgeThe Fairy Godmother by Mercedes LackeyThe Ordinary Princess by M.M. KayeGolden by Cameron Dokey
Fairy Tale Retellings: Hidden Gems
47th out of 323 books — 600 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mostly descriptive, as is often Lackey's tendancy. Very little action for the length. The Firebird appears for the first time around page 75 and is barely glimpsed, then does not reappear or speak till more than 200 pages in. I found Ilya uninteresting as a protagonist and have no idea what the bird saw in him. Weak, but mostly inoffensive, although there were a couple painfully stupid moments.

Read Brokedown Palace if you're interested in the violent-brothers aspect, Rusalka if you want vaguely...more
Jan 15, 2011 Tammy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
Firebird introduces Ilya, the least favoured of Tzar Ivan’s sons. Upon first impression Ilya struck me as cheeky, arrogant, skirt-chasing idiot, an impression that lasted just as fervently all the way through.

Putting that aside, the plot in itself was purely nonsensical. As the story progresses, Ilya undertakes a supposedly reckless mission, involving the rescue of several very pretty “damsels in distress”, the gorgeous Tatiana, with whom he fell in love on first sight for the single virtue of...more
It took me a couple of tries to get through The Firebird. I usually don't keep trying but I really enjoy Lackey's Thousand Kingdom books and the Firebird is a favorite fairy tale (and another retelling In the Forests of Serre is one of my all time favorite books). The beginning is sluggish and it takes a while to get into the meat of the story. Also, I felt Lackey missed in her attempt to create a loveable rogue, although the characterization itself is well drawn and the background history is lo...more
This is a pretty bad book. It's not the worst thing I've ever read, but it really wasn't worth my time. The prose is clunky, it seems poorly edited, the characters are either boring or unbelievable, mostly both, and the plot is not even a very good re-imagining of the classic Russian fairy tale. The pacing moved along all right, I suppose. It was quick to read. But it's just a really unimaginative book, and I found myself groaning and rolling my eyes a lot at the main character.
Firebird was very enticing and pays quite an homage to the Old Russian tales. I was quite gleeful when I picked the book up, began to read, and realized I knew what each magical creature was, even before they began to explain the purpose of the rusalka and the leshii. And the firebird herself was, well, heavily magical at the very least!

I had expected something different of the story, actually, though I blame my misunderstanding what the book cover was telling me about the plot. I spent a good h...more
Interesting. The synopsis is not exactly accurate, no. The H's father and brothers never knew about the firebird, so how could they possibly try to trap her?

The story is technically a romance I guess, and told entirely from the H's POV - an interesting change there. His encounters with the firebird lead to her giving him the power of understanding animals, which saves his butt several times. The zoo that is his father's household... gaah! Eventually, his older brothers manage to get him lost in...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bridgette Redman
In Old Rus, people used to speak of the lands being filled with spirits bright, terrible, mischievous and kind. Oral folklore—passed along as part of what is now known as the byliny—also regaled its listeners with stories of plain men and women who overcame adversity. They tell of Olga’s heroism and cleverness in punishing those who killed her husband and of Ivan the Terrible’s stupid cruelty.

Unfortunately, this oral tradition is mostly lost to us. Rather than sit as a live storyteller brings ri...more
Rachel Triska
A wonderful re-make of one of my favourite old fairy tales. However I would imagine- although I can't be sure- that this novel wouldn't appeal as much to any who had NOT read the original Russian folk-tale. This stuck fairly closely to the original, with enough differences and new laws to enable Lackey to introduce a few original twists and turns..... more and more so as the novel progressed. The characters were exceptionally well portrayed and rounded- even the minor ones- and the plot was tigh...more
Sep 22, 2007 Cindy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: most fantasy lovers
Shelves: fantasy-adult
I had heard good things about this author and I'd wanted to try one of her books. Despite checking The Black Gryphon out from the library like 5 times, I never managed to get past page 3 on that one, so I got this one instead.

Based on the Russian fairy tale, this one introduces the son of a minor tsar as our hero. Ilya is not the firstborn or the lastborn. But he's the fool. Or at least that's what he sets out to be. After catching a glimpse of the firebird, he cannot stop thinking of her. He mu...more
I loved this book. It was one of those books that I felt like I was there. Not like I was imagining it in my head, I was fucking there. The only thing I did not like about this book was the summary on the dust cover. I felt it did not do this book justice and it was slightly misleading.

Let me just discuss Ilya for a moment. Oh Ilya, forever persistent Ilya. I loved that he was no saint in this story. It made it seem less like a fairytale and more like real life. I think if Mercedes had left out...more
I wanted to like this book and parts of it were great, but about halfway through I realized that I just really didn't like the main character. He prided himself on being smarter than the rest of his family, but he couldn't seem to outsmart them. He was highly unimaginative in his solutions to problems, and spent a good bit of the first half of the book recovering from the poundings he received from his brothers. I didn't like the resolution to the final problem. It just seemed too easy. All in a...more
I never cared much for the original Russian Firebird myth, but this book won me over. I didn't expect to like Illa with his tendency to sleep with women, but he came off as a good person. What made it especially amazing is that Lackey put all that abuse and beatings to good use. I love the final scene with Tatiana.

Although, this book only confirms (for me)...along with the Dragon jousters and the 500 kingdoms Trilogy, that romance is just not Lackey's thing.
Moderately good. The details are fine, the story is pretty interesting but the style lacks luster and passion. Ilya is a realistic protagonist but far from heroic. Even though he seems cautious and clever at times, he never really acquires a brilliance or greatness. Hence, he is not really heroic and he does not really deserve the Firebird. The book is also quite slow but there are enough engaging details to keep one occupied.
I rate this book so highly because at 14, when I first read it, it was incredible. Adults looking for accurate historical/fantasy fiction should look elsewhere as this book is best appreciated with an adolescent naïveté. However, I recently reread it (at 28) and enjoyed it tremendously for the classic mythic storytelling and characters.
Mercedes Lackey, we usually get along tolerably well if not like a house on fire. What was this drivel? Really, what? If it's not outright offensive, it's boring as hell, or it's boring and offensive at once.

Struggled through to the end out of sheer bloody mindedness. Book did not improve. Please can I have those hours back?
I kept reading it for the world. Our lead simply takes to long to take charge and be somebody rather than avoiding his evil brothers, father and stepmother. Seriously it takes more than 60% of the book for our hero to start his actual journey an two chapters too resolve it all
I liked the story, but I had a hard time liking the protagonist. Personal preference.
2.5 stars

This was disappointing. Lackey's The Black Swan is one of my favourite retellings, and even though they're much different in tone, I generally enjoy her 500 Kingdoms fairy tale books as well, so I had high hopes for this one.

This book retells the story of the ballet The Firebird, an old story that has the potential to be really interesting. Unlike Black Swan, Lackey doesn't invest timeworn characters with fresh motivations, and unlike the 500 Kingdoms books, the tale isn't subverted or...more
Jill Furedy
I read two books from the Five Hundred Kingdoms series and liked the world, but wanted to like the characters and adventures more than I did. I thought perhaps a book from outside that series would help me decide if I liked Lackey as an author. I'm still so-so. I've read a decent amount of fairy tales and realize that they don't fully develop characters, plots etc, and the magic and magical charcters are often unexplained. But since this was a full book and it fleshed out the family dynamics and...more
Nov 30, 2010 Abigail rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like unique fairy tales and don't demand constant action
Recommended to Abigail by: Melitta Andersen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cid Tyer
I lived in Russia for a while. Needless to say, I adore the old Russian fairytales. Firebird touches on several of these and is done so with a literary magic that is really quite awesome. I will say that the back blurb above is a bit misleading; the things happen, but not quite how the back blurb leads you to believe. The language of Firebird is a little archaic, not so much that it’s hard to read, but it is told in a more formal style that lends its self to the type of story being told. Casual...more
Lackey has done a lot of reading on Firebirds and the stories surrounding them, and I love that she chose to keep the setting in Russia rather than move them to fairytaleland. The problem with basing a story on the Firebird fairy tales, though, is that unlike Cinderella or Rumplestiltskin, there are several different tales featuring the Firebird. Lackey has tried to include as many of them as she could, which results in a meandering and disjointed story rather than something cohesive that comes...more
Mercedes Lackey has written lots of books, most of which I have read and loved. Firebird somehow escaped my notice though. Strange, because it's based on a Russian folk tale and I love folk or fairy tales! It surprised me that Firebird did not enchant me from the start. For the first time ever with Mercedes Lackey I had trouble connecting to the story. There was a very long introduction of Ilya and his family with a detailed description of the physical abuse he receives from his brothers. Althou...more
I initially chose to read this book because Igor Stravinsky's ballet of the same name is one of my favorite pieces of all time. Additionally, I think the tale of the Firebird is beautiful. However, I did not enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped. I thought it centered too much around the characterization of Ilya Ivanovitch and every event that led up to him going to the palace of the Katschei and less around the mythology of the Firebird. She wasn't even mentioned until page 80 and was barely men...more
So not worth it. Shallow on all accounts. It is so so flat, I struggled so hard to read it and only continued in hopes of it getting better. It never did. The main character, who is supposed to be incredibly intelligent and clever, is actually severely lacking in this department, and the fact that everyone else is incredibly stupid makes me believe that Mercedes Lackey is an incredibly talentless author. There is no suspense, no excitement, no connection experienced when reading this book. The d...more
Althea Ann
Better than much of Lackey's work, this novel retells the Russian legend of the Firebird (with plenty of editorial embellishment). Ilya, a handsome Russian prince with a habit of womanizing, seems like he has everything going for him – except that his seven lunkhead brothers want to kill him, and their father doesn't particularly care. After a rash of mysterious thefts of rare cherries from a prized orchard, Ilya discovers that the culprit is a beautiful and magical bird-woman. Using the chaos s...more
I was surprised that I didn't enjoy this book more. A few years ago, I read through Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, which are all based on well known fairytales, and I remember generally liking them all. Firebird was less engaging for me. I wasn't really interested in the main character. It took me a long time to have any sympathy for him. While he does change over time, I don't know that I ever really cared. I did appreciate how magic was non-existant at the beginning of the book an...more
Once again, Mercedes Lackey takes us to the ballet while touching on the fairytale basis for the story (the book is dedicated to Natalia Marakova [sic], the Russian prima ballerina whose surname is actually spelled Makarova).

The Firebird is an enchanted princess in Russian lore; she steals cherries from a tsar's orchard, and he sets his sons the task, one at a time, of finding the thief.

Middle son Ilya is the one who sees her. A number of adventures ensue (as happens in these things).

Lackey has...more
My husband recommended this book to me as I'm starting to get into the fantasy genre. While the jacket cover synopsis (and artwork) do the book no justice ( the synopsis explains the plot all wrong and the jacket cover gets Illya's looks all wrong) it's a good example of the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover". I enjoyed the references and uses of Russian mythology. I loved how "real" the human characters were and the descriptions of the Firebird were pretty great. The only thing that kept...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Into the Forest: Firebird - Spoiler free 8 16 May 29, 2012 01:27PM  
Into the Forest: Firebird - Spoilers 1 8 Mar 29, 2012 06:51AM  
  • Tiger Burning Bright
  • Elvenborn (Halfblood Chronicles, #3)
  • Once Upon a Winter's Night (Faery Series, #1)
  • In Celebration of Lammas Night
  • If I Pay Thee Not in Gold
  • Black Heart, Ivory Bones
  • The Unhandsome Prince
  • Happily Ever After
  • No One Noticed the Cat
  • White as Snow
  • The Dragon Quintet
  • Snow White And Rose Red
  • Spinners
  • Fitcher's Brides
  • The Godmother's Apprentice (Godmother, #2)
  • The Door in the Hedge
  • Winter Rose (Winter Rose, #1)
  • The Wild Swans (Faerie Tale)
Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts &...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1) Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage, #1) By the Sword (Valdemar: Kerowyn's Tale, #1) Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage, #3) Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage, #2)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“In a dog's world, only three states existed: "now," "in a while," and "forever." If someone left, he was gone "forever," and when he returned they rejoiced as much as if he were back from the dead precisely because he'd been gone "forever.” 9 likes
More quotes…