This book is a story of stories.
It is fitting to begin with one of which there are so many variations.
Somewhere where there was a wood, far away and long enough ago not to matter to people who thought that way of getting rid of problems best, a little child found a bird on a woodland floor. The child was a boy; it could have been a girl, too, for it was just a common child.
But the bird was a majestic thing, which storytellers would later call the Simurgh Phoenix. It was crowned with glory, with wings like the sun, and all birds were made in its image.
It was a powerful bird, like an eagle, falcon or a hawk, that saw all things.
It was like a sparrow, very full of joy, that chirruped so that anyone with kindness would kneel to nest it in his hand.
It was like a magpie, that looked sharply at everyone, with a mind quicker than anything.