Firebird: 90 pages in and it’s still starting

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Mercedes Lackey FirebirdFirebird by Mercedes Lackey

Since Firebird is one of Mercedes Lackey’s somewhat older works, I thought I’d enjoy it. It certainly sounded promising.

And indeed, Firebird starts off with a lot of potential. Though the main character, Ilya, is yet another underappreciated, super-clever youth whose family is mean to him, etc. etc., he’s a bit of a, well, womanizer. He likes him some womenfolk, and it’s kind of charming in a rather “That’s not very like Mercedes Lackey” kind of way. I liked Ilya, and the book, with its charming premise, starts out well.

But… by page 90-something, it still hadn’t stopped starting. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the book to get on with it. By the time I put the book down, Ilya still had not been “cast out” as the blurb promises. In fact, he’s still barely encountered the titular Firebird, let alone made any attempt to capture her. Instead he’s… taking a steam bath.

No, really. And that scene really epitomizes what made me put the book down. Firebird is chock full of tedious, second-to-second details, with barely any dialog or plot to move it along. I do not need to be told about how Ilya strikes the flint and lights the tinder for his bath. It’s just unnecessary and well, extremely self-indulgent.

I said before that my VALDEMAR cup had runneth over. Well, I’m pretty sure my Mercedes Lackey cup has too.

Firebird — (1996) Publisher: Mercedes Lackey never puts a foot wrong in this confident, funny fairy-tale adaptation. Tsar Ivan has eight sons; all are brutes like himself except for happy-go-lucky, least-favored Ilya. Cast out through the machinations of his jealous, competitive brothers, Ilya stumbles onto an enchanted castle, distressed damsels, a garden of questing princes turned to stone, and the secret of the shapeshifting woman called the Firebird. In love with a captive princess, Ilya enlists the Firebird and a charming, crafty vixen to help him battle the sorcerer. But is settling down with a princess what “happily ever after” really means?

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BETH JOHNSON, one of our guest reviewers, discovered fantasy books at age nine, when a love of horses spurred her to pick up Bruce Coville’s Into the Land of the Unicorns. Beth lives in Sweden with her husband. She writes short stories and has been working on a novel.

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