R. Garcia y. Robertson, Author . Tor $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-1356-0

Garcia y Robertson (White Rose ) opens his dazzling stand-alone with the words "Once upon a time" and spends the rest of the book crafting a true fairy tale. In the cursed land of Markovy (which resembles medieval Russia), Aria, a "witch-girl" raised to young womanhood by the powerful Bone Witch, is out gathering herbs when she hears the fire jay calling her name. Following the call, Aria sees an injured knight riding away from the burning town of Byeli Zamak. By ministering to the knight's wounds, Aria begins a wondrous journey that will take her far from her quiet sylvan abode. To remove the curse on Markovy, Aria and her knight, Sir Roye de Roye, must return the "Firebird's Egg," which was stolen by the late King Demitri, to its nest atop Burning Mountain deep in the Iron Wood. Bawdy and bloody, magical and mythic, this joyous novel is sure to please heroic fantasy fans. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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