Publication Date: September 24th 2009
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 5 out of 5
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.
This was very nearly as good as Graceling. It has more intrigue than action, although there was still some action. Some great moments of action, in fact. But most of it was about politics, spies, and subterfuge. The story was very interesting and the writing style is still as clear and refreshing as ever.
I was at first disappointed to discover this was not a continuation of Katsa and Po's story, but a separate story set in the same world. Just think of it as a similar stand alone novel by the same author, so its still good. It is set to the east of the Seven Kingdoms, over the mountains, and is in fact set several years before Graceling.
Although Katsa was much more literally kick-ass than Fire, I think I may actually like Fire better as a heroine. Katsa was totally awesome and kick-ass, dont get me wrong. But Fire's lack of physical strength made her moments of strength more impressive. She may have had superior mental strength, and far superior beauty, but those are the things medieval and fantasy women usually have to depend on. While Katsa kicked-ass, chopped off her hair, and refused to wear dresses, Fire was a magnification of womanly strength. So, I enjoyed this new heroine who did not fight, but had so much courage.
When it comes to the issue of Prince Po or Prince Brigan, the choice is more difficult. They are both quite awesome, but different. Po the joker, Brigan the brooder. If I really had to choose I think I might go with Po because he was more fun. But I have no shortage of appreciation for Brigan as well. Funny thing is, for some reason I pictured Brigan as Paul Wesley pretty much from the beginning and I couldnt get that image out of my head. But I have no idea why since he doesnt really fit the description. He was described thus: "His eyes were clear and very light gray... He was little more than average height and build. He had his mother's fine mouth, but besides that and those pale crystal eyes, he was not handsome." But you cant blame me for trying. :P I really didnt like Archer though. I thought I liked him at first, until I realized what he was like. I dont know why Cashore felt like we needed his character in the book, especially a YA book. He added nothing to the story. The book would have been better, perfect, if his character didn't exist.
The romance in Fire was nothing like it was in Graceling. Po and Katsa were far more passionate, and it built quickly and they gave into their passion about halfway through the book. Many scenes were described in detail. In Fire, I was unsure in the beginning who would be the object of Fire's affection. I think I figured it out around the same time as the passage I used above for Brigan's description, because at the time he seemed the least fitting. Having a dramatic change in a character is always a good base for a romance. :P Although it was just a theory for some time, it eventually became clear. Their relationship development was very slow and subtle but sweet, and they didn't even kiss until nearly the end of the book. And when they did it was so vague, with no description that I almost missed it.
So, this turned into more of a comparison than a review, but if you liked Graceling than you can make a very informed choice as to whether or not you want to read this. My recommendation is yes.
“Brigan was saying her name, and he was sending her a feeling. It was courage and strength, and something else too, as if he were standing with her, as if he'd taken her within himself, letting her rest her entire body for a moment on his backbone, her mind in his mind, her heart in the fire of his.The fire of Brigan's heart was astounding. Fire understood, and almost could not believe, that the feeling he was sending her was love.”