Published January 25th, 2011 by Firebird
Book Two in the Graceling Realm series
Monsters are beautiful, brightly coloured creatures with a taste for other monsters and an alluring power over non-monsters. There are monsters in every species. Cat monsters, raptor monsters, horse monsters, bug monsters. Fire is a human monster, the last remaining human monster in a land teeming with other kinds of monsters. She is very beautiful, with the ability to control humans to varying degrees of success (depending on their mind strength). All her life, she has seen herself as a true monster – an evil thing – because of her father, Cansril (who was evil and used his powers for bad) and because of the way people see her.
Prince Brigan, for example, sees Fire as her father’s reputation. Back in the day, Cansril and King Nax – Brigan’s father – used to stomp around the kingdom together. Cansril led him to some very dark places in his search of entertainment, I suppose. The next high, etc. That was a long time ago, and both men are dead now. But Fire is left with the burden of Cansril’s reputation. And Brigan, when they meet, hates her deeply.
Meanwhile, the land is heading to war, with rebel leaders aching to take the throne all over the place.
Ever wondered what lay on the other side of the Seven Kingdoms in Graceling? Want to know more about the origins of the evil king Leck? Then read Fire, a companion novel (with a splash of prequel) to Graceling.
I must admit that I wasn’t as enthralled with this as it’s predecessor, but I still really enjoyed it. I love the premise of the monsters. Kristin Cashore once again created another female lead character who is a bit of an outcast. Unlike Katsa though, Fire is not particularly strong or powerful (note that she has the capacity to be powerful, she just isn’t, in the beginning at least).
Her romance with Brigan is set up really well, because they have these entwined pasts and are kind of enemies. So I was thinking, “okay, this is going to be awesome”. But in fact, when the romancing came around, it wasn’t very climatic. Which could be seen as a negative, but when you take into account that how they got together was probably much more realistic, then it’s kind of a positive.
It took me a very long time to read, which in my case is often the kiss of death for a book, but I do really love Fire. I think it took me a long time to get through because I’ve been sick (the kind of sick where reading sounds lovely, but holding a big book for long periods of time seems unfathomable, so you just watch movies instead) and working a lot.
So far, this series has proven to have great world building, awesome and inspiring characters, and a general feeling of ‘mm, I’ll like some more of that, please’ when you finish one of the books. I can’t wait to crack open Bitterblue.