Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Dial; First Edition edition
From Amazon for readers Grade 9 Up — This fantasy, shot through with romance and suspense, is set in the same world as GRACELING, but on the far side of the mountain barrier in the kingdom of the DellS, are monsters, enhanced and exceptionally beautiful versions of various animal species. Fire is a human monster, so beautiful that she has to hide her hair for fear of attack by both raptor monsters and human men. She is able to enter other people's minds and exert power over them. It is a tumultuous time in the kingdom, as various lords are preparing to overthrow the king, and Fire is drawn into the fray. With a larger cast and a more complex canvas than Graceling, the story begins slowly and takes its time establishing itself. Fire's path is not immediately clear, and although full of action, her quest is largely internal. While the plotting is well done, there are a few quibbles about Cashore's world-building and about the role of a major character from GRACELING, Leck. But, this is Fire's story, and readers will fall in love with her as she struggles with her pivotal role in the war effort as well as her complex relationships with her oldest friend and lover, Archer; with Prince Brigan, whose mind is closed to her and who becomes central to her life; and with her monster father's fearsome legacy. More adult in tone than GRACELING, this marvelous prequel will appeal to older teens, who will not only devour it, but will also love talking about it.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIRE takes place in the same world as GRACELING, but with very little crossover. It is supposed to be a prequel, set at least a decade before GRACELING, and only one character appears in both books. These two books don't have to be read in order for you to understand Fire, but once you have read FIRE, you will want to immediately read GRACELING.
The Gracelings live over the mountains in kingdoms that are relatively peaceful, living on what the Gods have offered them. But over the mountains live the the kingdoms of the Dells, where many unusually monsters live among the people. The nobels of the Dell work with some of these animals to plan rebellious plot against the young king . In this country, the are monsters, brightly colored, beautiful, and often dangerous from normal animals.
Fire is a human monster, the last of her kind. Fire is an outcast in her society, with her vibrant and unnatural red hair color - a clear indicator she is a monster - and status as a powerful mind controller. She resists using her ability, remembering the terrible example of her brilliant, twisted father. When the king's brother Brigan arrives to ask for her help against the rebel lords, she is pulled against her will into the turmoil enveloping the kingdom.
King Nash is struggling to hold on to his kingdom as enemies from the north and south threaten to overthrow him. Both Nash and his brother, Brigan, distrust Fire at first because of the damage her father did to the kingdom before his death. Brigan would like nothing more than to kill Fire, but they manage to find a way to resolve their differences and work together.
Fire is a strong heroine - tough and fiercely independent - but loyal and kind to others. She is thoughtful, and concerned for the other people she has befriended. She especially struggles to reconcile her own nature and her father's actions, to become the person she wishes to be. Katsa's was a stong heroine in GRACELING, but I think Fire has developed into an even stronger character in the book, FIRE.
Although FIRE is not a happy, warm and fuzzy book all of the time, after all it does deal with death and violence and the cruelties of life. Cashore has a talent with writing optimistic and sensitive material, and inserting rare scenes of romance and humor to keep the story moving along at a fever-pitch. She is definitely a YA fantasy writer to be watching because her writing style and subject matter will attract not only the young adult population, but the adult population (like myself) who enjoy an excellent fantasy story. If readers weren't already in love with Cashore after reading GRACELING, they will be after reading Fire
This complicated and layered story made for the perfect summer read. The characters are amazing and complex, intense and believable and written with great prose and feeling. FIRE (and GRACELING) are excellent books. The characters will satisfy readers who like adventure, intrigue, and romance even the villains are interesting, intelligent people. The twists and turns of the plot are unpredictable and keep you turning the page until the wee hours of the morning.