It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.
This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.
Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City. The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.
If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.
Why I Started Reading This Book and Final Verdict
After reading (and loving) Graceling, I knew I had to continue with the Graceling realm books. I stifled my urge to skip Fire and go straight to Bitterblue (because Bitterblue plays a pivotal role in Graceling, I was ready to jump into her story), and I am glad I did. Fire is nothing and everything like Graceling (yes, I mean it exactly like that), and it really grew my appreciation for Cashore’s story telling. I am now looking forward to getting to Bitterblue.
When I finished Fire and began reflecting on the book, I began to draw parallels between it and Graceling. On the surface level, these are very different stories. In many ways, Fire is nothing like Katsa. Fire is a human monster, and though she has a power, it’s not a Grace, and it seems to more trouble than it’s worth. As much as Katsa was feared, Fire is hated as much as she is loved, and with the hatred comes people wanting to see her existence erased. It is certainly not an easy life, but like Katsa, Fire does have a few people in her circle.
Though romance plays a part in Fire (and in Graceling), I would not call it a traditional romance, and it takes a backseat to the rest of the story. I don’t know if I can quite put into words my feelings here, but there is something about the romance that makes it seem non-essential to Fire’s life. It adds to her life rather than completes it. Cashore has created some very strong female leads, and these characters can — and very often do — stand on their own two feet for what they believe in. There were plenty of times where Fire’s love interest was not even in the story. And, as a side note, there were some things in this story (romance/sex wise) that makes me wonder if YA is really the best classification for these books. New Adult might be a better designation?
What I ended up really really REALLY liking about Fire was the underlying message about who we are. We cannot control certain aspects of ourselves. Fire couldn’t change being a human monster. Katsa couldn’t turn off her Grace. Essentially, you have been dealt certain cards in life that you stuck with. But how you choose to use those cards is entirely up to you. Fire and Katsa both spend time afraid of themselves and their power. What if Fire turns into her father? What if Katsa becomes a remorseless killer? Whatever traits or characteristics you have been given in life, they do not define you. You define you. Just as anything can be twisted into something negative, so too can you twist it into something positive.
And, quite frankly, Kristin Cashore just knows how to tell a good story. There is a specific character we learned of in Graceling that plays a role in Fire, and I was definitely very interested by him. The world is very complex, but fascinating and intriguing to the point it makes you want to be there with the characters. Even if you choose not to search out a deeper meaning in Fire, it is an enjoyable book, and I now fully understand why Kristin Cashore has so many loyal fans. And count myself among them.