Firebirds Rising is an engaging mix of SF and Fantasy stories aimed at a young adult audience, though quite enjoyable for adults as well.
Two of my favorites are Science Fiction: Carol Emshwiller's "Quill", an oddly old-fashioned, charming yet sad, story of an isolated family and their curious secret; and Kara Dalkey's "Hives", an uncompromising story of teen-aged girls and cliques, exacerbated by near-telepathic phone connections.
Naturally one of the stories I most looked forward to was Kelly Link's "The Wizards of Perfil", and this is indeed a very enjoyable piece, though not as good as her best work. A boy named Onion and his disagreeable cousin Halsa, as well as Halsa's mother and brothers, are fleeing a war that has already their other parents' lives. Money is short, so when a reprensative of the reclusive Wizards of Perfil offers to buy a child, one of them must go. Onion, who may be telepathic, seems a natural candidate to sell to the representative of the reclusive wizards, but somehow Halsa is sold instead. As we expect with Link, the story goes in unexpected directions, telling of both Onion and Halsa and the very reclusive wizards - though I must say the resolution was exactly what I expected. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing.)
I was also delighted to see a story by Emma Bull, with the intriguing title "What Used to Be Good Still Is" (a title actually credited to Elise Matthesen). This is a moving story of a young man in a mining town in Arizona in the 1930s, and his love for a Mexican-American girl, who loves him but loves something else even more.
Patricia A. McKillip contributes another of her stories about a group of painters resembling the Pre-Raphaelites. "Jack O'Lantern" is about a girl struggling with her parents' conventional views of the role of women, particularly upper class women, as her older sister prepares to be married. During the painting of a wedding party portrait she meets a curious local lad, and hears a story about the Jack O'Lantern. Diana Wynne Jones's "I'll Give You My Word" is as clever as we expect from her, about a boy whose younger brother speaks in phrases like "sententious purple coriander". The story concerns the younger boy's trouble at school, and the problems the whole family encounters when the mother takes a book promotion trip. Ellen Klages's "In the House of the Seven Librarians" is purely charming, about a child growing up in a shuttered old-fashioned library.
And there are plenty further fine stories here, from names I expected to see like Charles de Lint and Tamora Pierce, and from perhaps surprising names like Alan Dean Foster. I enjoyed the anthology throughout. If I had a complaint, it would be that perhaps a few too many stories seem to play things just a bit safe. (With exceptions, such as Dalkey's "Hives" and Francesca Lia Block's "Blood Roses".) I would attribute that to the YA nature of the book - I suspect I should, indeed - but we certainly have plenty of examples of YA fiction that doesn't play safe. That said, this is a fine book, and it does a fine job of presenting interesting new stories, both SF and Fantasy, that will appeal to all readers.