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Fire (Graceling) Hardcover – October 5, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—This fantasy, shot through with romance and suspense, is set in the same world as Graceling (Dial, 2008), but on the far side of the mountain barrier in the kingdom of the Dells. Here there 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
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"...this marvelous prequel will appeal to older teens, who will not only devour it, but will also love talking about it." --School Library Journal, starred review
"Cashore's prose has matured, growing piercing and elegant..." --Horn Book, starred review
"Fresh, hopeful, tragic and glorious." --Kirkus, starred review
"Surpasses Cashore's debut and paves the way for further exploration of a world in which readers will happily immerse themselves." -- Horn Book
"...tension...keeps the pages turning."
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Top customer reviews
FIRE was the spectacular companion to the highly praised and wonderfully crafted GRACELING, book one in the Graceling Realm Series.
I fell in love with Graceling a couple years ago when I first started reading YA. I stumbled upon it looking for something with fierce action and bad ass characters. And GRACELING sounded just like the book I was looking for. And it was, it was EPICALLY wonderful in so many ways. But I was still skeptical to read FIRE. I'm not a huge fan of companion novels, for some reason I just have trouble reading them because I miss the original characters set in the same world. But I'm happy to say that was not the case with FIRE.
Set in a different kingdom then GRACELING, and kinda in a different world, but not, (I know that makes no sense, you have to read it to understand what I'm talking about) FIRE quickly set this world on fire with it's political intrigue and fast approaching war. With a stunningly gifted mind reading main character, that can captivate and stupidfy men with just one look, FIRE was a breath of fresh air that did not disappoint!
The main character Fire had a complexity about her that was intriguing and different then my normal characters. I enjoyed her beauty and womanly power to entrance men and control their minds. But with only a limited power to work with, Fire had to use strategy and endurance to complete her missions. But consumed with guilt over her wicked fathers misuse of his mind reading powers, Fire dwelled on the pain and suffering he inflicted on people. She was a strong character, and was blessed to have genuine people who cared about her regardless of the monster inside! She was also handy with a bow, and could hold her own in a fight!
The world-building was fantastic! The Dells is in a different world then Graceling though. The way it's explained in the book is that if you were in the Graceling kingdoms, and fell off a cliff, then you would land yourself in the Dells kingdom. The two realms don't even know the other exist. So that's why it was confusing when I said it was in the same world, yet it's wasn't. But the dells have no gracelings with two different eyes and special powers. But they do have colorful monsters, including the last remaining human-monster Fire. The monsters range from humans monsters, to huge hungry monsters, to little monster bugs. They have mind powers too. I thought that was a different and interesting concept. Plus you add in civil war and tons of political intrigue, with a slow burning romance that's sweet and gentle, with a underlying plot that could tips that tides of war, and your have a pretty amazing book!
One issue I had trouble with was the slow pacing and lack of a smooth flowing plot. The book was fabulous, but the pace of the novel was sometime distressing and hard-enduring. Their wasn't enough action for my taste, and the plot dragged with the slow pace and lack of action. Their was some adventure, but not much of that either, which was another let down. I guess you could say my love for FIRE mainly came from the political intrigue, war thriving, paranormal, and mind-controlling aspects of the novel. Which was enough to win me over, but not entirely!
In a remote part of the forest, Fire lives secluded from the rest of the world. She hopes by shielding everyone from her vicious power, that she will be keeping them safe from her mind-control that tends to invade and conquer minds. The same wicked power that her evil father wielded and ruined many innocent lives in the process. But Fire refuses to succumb to her fathers evil ways, and is determined not to become the monster he was. But when civil war threatens the royal family, and all she holds dear, Fire must make a decision that will change not only the kingdom, but herself, and all the promises she's kept threaten to become unraveled...
Seeking answers to recent attacks on their home, Fire and her best friend and "sometime lover" Lord Archer travel to King City, and find that the kingdom is in more turmoil then they once thought. With little hope of winning this war, the royal family seeks Fire's help with besting their two rival enemies before all is lost. But if Fire is to help win this war, she must first sacrifice her morals and become the true monster she's always been terrified of becoming... her father...
FIRE had some flaws but not enough to defer my love for these characters and book. I'm saddened that these characters are done playing they're part in this series, and we won't see them anymore. But hey, it was fun while it lasted. I'm looking forward to reading BITTERBLUE, book three, the last companion novel in this series and seeing how it ties into book one, and what secrets it will reveal! If it's anything like book one or two, then I know it's going to be pretty epic too!
Overall, I had my ups and downs with FIRE, but ultimately enjoyed most of it, and thought it tied nicely into this series with one of the same delicious villains from book one. Even with it's flaws, I was able to push past them and enjoy this book and all the fun political intrigue and devious plotting. So if you enjoy a good fantasy novel with a paranormal twist, and a slow burning romance, then definitely give this series a shot!
Ps- I didn't enjoy "Bitterblue " as much in this series but if she likes it and wants the full Trilogy we will get it and review it. I saved it in my wishlist as public so I can find me it or friends/family might buy as a bday gift. My son turning 11 and she's turning 14 (1week apart).
2nd photo: cover photo
1st photo: Back: photo 1 (description which is also on the purchase item Page).
One small issue, depending on the age of reader I would advise a little caution. The people in the novel seem a little promiscuous. I was just kind of surprised how several times throughout the novel it was discussed and how almost ridiculous the blood lines were for some of the characters. They do not go into detailed sex scenes or even describe it at all, just the context of it in general was a bit of a surprise to me. But I still loved it and highly recommend it!
I did start having problems with the whole, "I'm Fire, woe is me for being so unattainably beautiful that I drive men and women mad with passion and lust," situation that was touched on over, and over, and over, and over and over, and over, and over again. I get that, in a way, it was allegorical, but after a while it became a little grating and I would quickly skim over her expositional inner dialogue just to get to something better.
In the end though, I'll be sad to leave the Dells and head back to graceling territory in Bitterblue.