by Kristin Cashore
Release Date: October 5, 2009
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
For Fire, reading minds and controlling them is as regular as breathing comes to others. Her name comes from her flame-colored hair that is a result of her being a “monster,” the term for animals normal in all but color in the kingdom known as the Dells. Fire lives in a time where civil war is imminent and the king struggles to stay on the throne. As those loyal to the king race to attempt to stop war in its tracks before it strikes, Fire’s potential to help attracts the royal family’s attention...but Fire has problems of her own.
Fire’s extraordinary beauty and status as a monster make her stand out and many people either hate or love her too much. Between trying to divert attacks on her person and fending off overzealous men, Fire has to decide whether or not she should use her mental powers in the service of the royal family. Her father was also a monster and used his powers for his own pleasure, often hurting others. Fire’s strong feelings against harming others with her power leaves her torn in deciding whether she should use her abilities for interrogation as her duty to her country. Fire desperately tries to distance herself from any connection she might have to her father, which causes her to be in quite the moral quandary in making decisions. Her quest to find her own identity is subtle and goes hand-in-hand with her facing up to the truth of her past and eventual reconciliation with it.
Throughout the novel, the author weaves in snippets of Fire’s past, gradually revealing the truth about her father and his importance in the Dell’s history as well as Fire’s own. It symbolizes Fire’s own journey in discovering who she really is and to really embrace her identity, growing into true adulthood. True to the saying that “actions speak louder than words,” the author does a wonderful job of allowing Fire’s interactions with supporting characters to develop Fire’s character steadily throughout the book until it’s really hard to think of her as anything but a real, living person.
Of course, Fire, like any other novel, contains romance. Fire’s love life is an exceptionally turbulent one. A childhood friend desperately wants her hand in marriage, but Fire declines every time, wishing their relationship to stay as very good friends. However, Fire meets Prince Brigan, and everything about their interactions show that they’re incredibly incompatible. But, Kristin Cashore’s way with subtlety allows a very believable romance to develop between them. It’s this kind of careful, deliberate development in the whole work that allows Fire to be an exceptional read, full of intricate plot elements and conflicts, strong characters, and just a wonderful writing style.
With regards to it being the prequel of Graceling and the second novel Kristin Cashore has written, Fire is an incredible book. It surpasses Graceling, which is quite astonishing, as Graceling is quite the read as well. Kristin Cashore has really outdone herself with Fire, and anyone, not even fantasy fans, should really appreciate this extraordinary novel.