Fire~ Book Review
by Kristin Cashore
Read December 2009
From the inside cover~
“It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.
This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistable appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.
Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City. The royal family needs her to help uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.
If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.
This book was amazing! I have to be honest and tell you there were parts that kind of bugged me or confused me, but the rest of the book went above and beyond making up for it.
If you read Graceling, you will know that Cashore writes strong female heroines. While Fire is not nearly as lethal as Katsa (although she could be I suppose), she is still a powerful woman who knows what she wants. Fire is such a compelling character. The journey of self-discovery she makes during the course of the novel is brilliantly written. In fact all of the characters grow and develop in some manner.
Something that bothered me in both Graceling and Fire was the naming of characters and various places. In Graceling the biggest annoyance was the name, Princess Bitterblue. It made me involuntarily twitch every time I read it. Also, the names of the regions of Katsa’s world had the creative equivalent to North, South, East and West. In Fire, Lord Mydogg is quite possibly one of the worst original names I have ever heard of. And guess where the king lives? The very originally named, King City.
When I wrote my review of Graceling, I read some of the other reviews posted on Amazon. Many people complained about the sexual relationship between Katsa and Po mostly because it was a ‘casual sex’ relationship in a young adult book. The characters had no intention of marrying or producing children, they merely had an ongoing physical relationship. If this bothered you in Graceling, it’s even worse in Fire. I’m not really one that is bothered by this, however, the actions of Fire’s best friend/lover, Archer, were absolutely deplorable and no one seemed to be bothered by it. He constantly was spouting off about how much he loved Fire, but then had sex with everything that moved. Because Fire didn’t want to marry him, she didn’t seem to care and in fact smiled at his sexual exploits at one point. Without giving too much away about the ending, I think that Archer paid the consequences for his actions. The bad behavior in the beginning, really set up his character. So, even though his actions bothered me, I believe it was the author’s intent to have his actions make the reader squirm a bit. Long story short, if it bothered you in the first book, it will bother you more in this one.
The idea of the ‘graced’ in the first book was so original and unique, and the ‘monsters’ in the second book did not disappoint. I felt it was a bit confusing at first to understand the concept, in conjunction with the concept of the gracelings. Monsters are basically super-beings. There is everything from human monsters to mouse monsters. They are all stunningly more beautiful than their standard counterparts. They also all have the ability to sense and change emotions and thoughts. This varies from the gracelings because they are only graced in one area. Anything from sword fighting to cooking to reading minds. Another important thing to note is that the monsters are not in the same geographic areas as the gracelings. This took me a while to grasp. I’m sure it was explained, but I just didn’t pick up on it.
Past all of that, I thought it was brilliant. Very worthy of the 5/5 rating I gave it. Even though I was super-busy, I read it in a little over a day. This is one of those books that I am glad I own, because it would be very worthy of a re-read. One last note…It was written either on the book or on the blurb on Amazon that you don’t have to read Graceling first to understand or enjoy Fire. While this is true, I think that Graceling would miss a large mystery and intrigue regarding a certain crossover character whose history is explained in Fire. If you know his history, then I think you miss out on part of the fun in reading about it in Graceling. The opposite is not true. In my opinion, you must read Graceling first and Fire second.