Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Fire

Book Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Things to know up front...

Recommended to: Graceling fans, YA fans, fantasy fans

Rating: 9.5/10

Setting: The Dells (land adjacent to the Seven Kingdoms from the previous book)

  • Some sexual content. Not explicit in the least, mostly mentioned as "taking (insert name here) into bed." A couple of characters have children outside of marriage, and most characters are in sexual relationships. Rape is mentioned a few times, but not described. 
  • Quite a bit of violence. The main character is constantly being harmed in some way or another and is even shot in the arm with an arrow at one point. One character has completely lost the use of his legs because someone was sent to crush all of the bones in them. Several characters are stabbed. Monsters are constantly attacking the characters in this story. 
  • Drug use is mentioned as part of a king's downfall, but drugs other than a form of birth control aren't used by any main characters. 
  • Swear words are used sparingly enough that I can't specifically recall them, but I'm sure that they are present. 
  • Overall, there isn't anything too bad. Ages 13+ should be just fine reading it. 
In this prequel to Graceling, we meet Fire--the last of the exquisitely beautiful human monsters--who inspires lust and/or jealousy in nearly every person she meets. Not only does being a monster give her great beauty, but it also gives her the ability to sense and potentially control a person's mind and puts her in constant danger of being attacked by the monster animals in the Dells. These manipulative powers bring Fire to the King's City to help uncover the dangerous secrets of the king's enemies that threaten to bring down all that is good in the Dells.

I must say that I LOVED this book! Fire is much different from Graceling, but it succeeds even so. More a mystery than an action story, this book is concerned less with adventure and more with the underhanded workings of a king's court and the internal struggle of Fire, who--much like Katsa--is terrified of her own power and abusing it as her father did. Despite this difference, there is still enough action and romance to keep any reader interested.

We are given a bit of a different setting in this story, which is free of the Graced, but filled with fascinating and vicious monster animals that often wreak havoc on the kingdom. This confused me for a little bit because I couldn't quite figure out what Fire was or if Gracelings existed in this book, but I adjusted to it eventually and didn't like the story any less for it.

On the other hand, Fire keeps up the work of Graceling by continuing to give us strong characters. As the protagonist, Fire was brilliant, and the secondary characters such as her guards and the royal family manage to come to life and be very distinct. Fire's father--a deceased character--even manages to be one of the most memorable people in this story. While we're speaking of characters, it must be mentioned that this book contains a character from its predecessor that plays a very important role. I loved this inclusion that links the two books together, and one of the most exciting parts of the books was trying to figure out how this character was functioning in the plot.

The writing was, again, very good. I really admire Cashore's style in that it manages to not distract you from the plot, which is the main attraction in these books, but it's not something that you go back and inspect more carefully and go Oh my God--why was this woman allowed to pick up a pen? *cough cough* Twilight. 

The only complaint that I really have about this book is that the love story didn't feel quite right: the two characters didn't meld together quite as well as Katsa and Po from the previous book.

Overall, I would have to say that I found Fire to be even better than it's predecessor and that it's definitely worth your time! 

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