Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Posted 18 June, 2012 by Amanda / 26 Comments

Fire by Kristin Cashore
(Graceling Realm, #2)

Genre: Fantasy
Format: paperback
Read: 5/19/2012 — 5/20/2012
In Six Words: I’m falling under the Cashore spell.


Kristin Cashore — Website/Blog | Twitter | Graceling Realm Website
Amazon — Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle
Add it to Goodreads

Book Order

1. Graceling
2. Fire
3. Bitterblue


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.
-from Goodreads

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.

My Thoughts

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.


Filed under: ESR: 8, Fantasy, Review: Amanda, ,


26 Responses to “Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore”

  1. Loved it too and agree with all your observations. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t a “direct” follow-up to Graceling and Chasore’s character development is so out of this World!

  2. I have yet to read any book in this series. I suck. I love that she writes such strong heroines, and one of these days I’m seriously going to make time to pick these books up! While I usually like the romance to be pretty prevalent in the book I’m reading, I do like that Fire is strong and independent on her own. I do LOVE though that you said it’s something that adds to her life rather than something that makes her whole. Beautiful review Amanda!

    • I think if you go into the story knowing that the romance isn’t going to play a large role, you’ll be okay. And, really, the strong heroines really make up for it. These books are THEIR stories, not their love interests’.

  3. I had fully intended to skip Fire and go straight to Bitterblue… but after reading this, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.

    Thanks for such a great review!

  4. I plan on reading Graceling in August! I am glad to see that the series keeps you interested and changes so your expectations can be met but still keep you on your toes!

  5. I loved how the two books connected…but didn’t really. And, like you, I really appreciated the underlying message of dealing with who you are no matter what you’ve been dealt. Cashore’s writing completely sucks me into the world.

  6. YAY! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed “Fire”. It was definitely much different from “Graceling” and I know not many people liked this one. I love how Cashore weaves her story along with hard lessons of being okay to identify yourself in a certain way, especially for girls.

  7. I read both Graceling and Fire years ago, but Gollancz sent me a copy of Bitterblue to review last month. Now I’m suddenly desperate to reread the first two books again!

    I can’t really remember Fire that well for some reason, but I remember noticing the same message that you did. I thought it was a nice touch :)

  8. Excellente review of Fire. You said so many things that I felt. They are similar, yet different. Cashore has a real gift. Great women. Great male counter-parts. Complex, yet you couldn’t imagine it any different than how it is laid out there for you by her. Bitterblue is up next for me after City of Lost Souls. Can’t wait to see how she makes this book its own unique tale.