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Firebird (Fairy Tales #1)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  4,790 ratings  ·  134 reviews
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.

T
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Nook, 859 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Tor Books (first published December 27th 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Miriam
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
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Tammy
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
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Trulie
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
Miles
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.
Rhea
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.
Hope
I liked the idea of a retelling of the story of the Firebird more than I liked the actual retelling, in the end. Ilya is the despised middle son of a mean, petty, tyrant - although no real reason is given for why he is so hated, except that he is supposedly smarter and less violent than the others. he is routinely beaten by his many brothers, despite being so clever. The actual story takes a long time to get moving, with many false starts towards adventure along the way. The ending is rather too ...more
Marilag
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
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Crystal
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
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Michelle
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
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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
Cindy
Sep 22, 2007 Cindy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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Alec
I have loved nearly every book Misty has written, and this one did not disappoint. You can really see in this one where the inspiration came for the 500 Kingdoms books. Ilya is a delightful protagonist, despite his tendency to be led by his baser passions, and proves that a hero can, in fact, win by shear cleverness, even when strong enough to fight. The Firebird is equal to him in every way, and it is refreshing to find an older book with a female character who has brains, courage, and a great ...more
Samantha
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
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Jd032700
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
Jennifer Benson
This was a fun book for me to read as it explored Russian mythology. The main character, Ilya, at first brushes off magic as nonexistent and simply believes it to be trickery and cleverness. He, himself, is clever and tends to think things through where those around him are used to bullying those around them to get what they want. If it can't be had by intimidation, then simple force will suffice. He born in the middle of 8 sons to a powerful father. His brothers are jealous of him for being cle ...more
Yousif
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Mav
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.
Violet
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.
Jet
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?
Natasha
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
Manda
Nomadic SA Chick Book Review

A young prince, who spends most of his time avoiding beatings from his older brother who are vying to be the next Czar of their land, is banished from his homeland in Old Russia, after glimpsing the enchanted Firebird. On his journey to find Firebird again, he befriends a talking fox, and completes complicated mazes and puzzles, all before he falls in love with Firebird. Soon he discovers that Firebird is more than she initially appears to be, and is in fact a young
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Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
3.5

Good, but not as good as its successor. I'm glad to have finally read it after years of wanting a copy and had fun while doing so, but it won't be a favorite the way that The Black Swan is.
Maria
Good overall, but the general stupidity of all the supporting characters makes me wonder how they all managed to survive to adulthood. XD
Margaret
A fun little story overall, good beach reading or the like. That said, the first 250 pages of this book should have been 50. It was maddening trying to get to the main part of the story, which occupied only the last 150 or so pages of the book but was by far the best. I did very much appreciate having a fairy tale retelling set in Russia before the tsars though: very refreshing. But GOOD GOD GET TO THE PLOT AND AWESOME RUSSIAN MYTHOLOGY ALREADY. Maybe it's just that the back cover blurb was misl ...more
Jennifer
I liked the story, but I had a hard time liking the protagonist. Personal preference.
Maki
This is another one of those books where I think I liked the idea behind the story more than I liked the story itself.

I love a good firebird retelling - In The Forests of Serre is to blame for that particular addiction of mine. But Firebird didn't entirely live up to its potential.

The firebird, for instance, takes a bit of a backseat in the story. She has a few scenes, here and there, and she ultimately saves the day, but most of the story is spent following Ilya. The actual fairytale elements o
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Mdh
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
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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
Abigail
Nov 30, 2010 Abigail rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
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2015 Reading Chal...: Firebird by Mercedes Lackey 2 26 Jun 07, 2015 08:25AM  
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  
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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 &a ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...

Other Books in the Series

Fairy Tales (2 books)
  • The Black Swan (Fairy Tales, #2)
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) Arrow's Fall (Heralds of Valdemar, #3)

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“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.” 10 likes
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