Written by Kristin Cashore
Published by Dial Books, October 5, 2009
Hardcover: 480 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
This book was received from the publisher. I was offered the book and I said heck yes!
Here I am, with another co-review with Kailana of The Written World! Here is her review.
She is the last of her kind…
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.
Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don’t need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven’t, you’ll be dying to read it next.
In all seriousness, read them in order. Click here for my review of Graceling. Also, since the name of the book and the name of the character are the same, I’m going to refer to the character as Fire and the book as FIRE, to help avoid confusion.
In FIRE, we are returned to the world of Graceling, but to a heretofore unmentioned country. Fire, like the Gracelings of the first book, is an unusual human, called a monster. She is an outcast to her society, because her extreme beauty, which includes and knockout body and vibrantly red hair and she also has very dangerous mind control abilities. She is the last of her kind and she lives far out into the countryside where she can live without the threat of attack, rape, kidnapping or worse. However, when she is called to the King’s castle for her help, she goes. Her friend, neighbor, protector, and sometimes lover Archer, reluctantly lets her go.
Elsewhere in the kingdom, King Nash and his brother Brigan are working against the clock to protect the country from invasion. The brothers distrust Fire because of the chaos her father wreaked on the kingdom before his death and they, especially Brigan, want nothing to do with her. However, they realize her powers could be put to good use for the kingdom and realize they need to find away to get past their problems and work together, if they are to save the kingdom from imminent doom.
Kristin Cashore has done it again. She has written a powerful tale that reveals a whole new world beyond Katsa’s world, full of incredible beings, unusual powers, and a story full of political intrigue, love, friendship, and betrayal. Like Graceling, FIRE is also a coming-of-age tale, as Fire learns to accept herself the way she is and learn that despite her abilities (or disabilities as she sees it) that others can come to accept her and love her the way she is as well. Fire is a wonderful heroine; strong, independent, loyal and kind. Her reflective moments in the book were especially powerful to me; I thought it was great to see a character willing to think through the events of her life and work out their meaning for herself. Her concern for others was especially endearing, as she struggles to resolve her own ‘monstrous’ nature and the truly ‘monstrous’ nature of her father, with the kind, sweet heart that lies within her self.
I found it delightful to see how much Ms. Cashore has grown as an author. Graceling didn’t feel like a first novel and comparatively, Fire does not feel like a sophomore effort. The writing is tight, the pacing, while maybe slightly slow at the first, is solid. The plot is complex and riveting; this is a hard book to put down. Fire deals with so many emotions true to a teenager, but also true to an adult – remorse, regret, love, fear, and doubts – that any reader can relate to her. The issues of death, violence, rape, and even murder are all dealt with in a respectful and thoughtful manner. I can’t recommend this book enough.
The answers to Kailana’s questions are below…
1. In all seriousness, which book did you like better? Are you looking forward to book three?
It is SO HARD to pick. I loved both of these books so, so, so much. Honestly though, I think I liked FIRE slightly more, because I liked Fire so very, very much. Even though I am definitely no great beauty, I do know self-doubt and fear, both of which Fire has to deal with a great deal and I felt that I identified with her more. Katsa is kick-ass, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t identify with her quite as well.
And, uh, YES, I am looking forward to book three!!!!!
2. Which was the better heroine, in your opinion, Katsa or Fire?
That is ANOTHER hard pick. I loved both girls; Katsa for her strength, her determination, her conflicted sense of right and wrong and how she persevered to do what she thought was right, how she followed her heart! And Fire, I loved for her vulnerability, her fierce love and devotion, her own conflicted sense of right and wrong. The only problem I had with either girls was how they had a tendency to lead on the men that they cared for, Katsa with Po and Fire with Archer. However, since this felt somewhat true to life (as best I remember it from my own teenage years) I can’t fault either girl for that, it’s part of growing up and finding your way in life. Like I said, I really identified with Fire for some reason.
In the end, I think I prefer (only slightly) Fire.
3. What about the guy? Did you like Po better or Brigan?
This one I have no trouble picking; it’s Brigan. Don’t get me wrong, I like Po, but Brigan, oh Brigan, with his initial hatred of Fire, his willingness to look past his prejudices and see the real person inside the body, his kindnesses and his love…oh Brigan has my heart. Po was great, but he’s no Brigan.
~ Also by Kristin Cashore ~
~ Also reviewed by ~
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Incidentally, this is my 900th post!! I feel so old!
Also, happy 9th wedding anniversary to my dear hubby. He puts up with all my strange machinations and loves me anyway. Could a girl ask for anything more? Love you babe!