Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Rating: 5 Crowns
Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.
Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.
Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
Wondering what makes it a companion book/prequel? Fire takes place 30-some years before Graceling and has one cross-over character with Graceling, a small boy with strange two-colored eyes who comes from no-one-knows-where, and who has a peculiar ability that Graceling readers will find familiar and disturbing...
After the awesome debut that was Graceling, I wanted to get my hands on anything that was Kristin Cashore. And the wait for Fire was well worth it. Fire is the prequel to Graceling, in that is set 30 years before and has one cross over character that you’ll recognize at once. The book is based in the lands beyond the Seven Kingdoms, where there are creatures called monsters who are beautifully coloured and can mesmerize you. Fire is the last of the human monsters, but one who understands the effect of her beauty on others, and who understands the difference between right and wrong.
The book is based in a land at war with its neighbours and a kingdom shaped by the late king, and his trusted advisor Cansrel, who was Fire's father. Fire tries to use her monster powers to help with the war when asked. She struggles to use her powers now, when she's been trying not to all this while, and the attraction she feels for the king’s brother isn’t helping.
This book, for me, was a lot better than Graceling, and I absolutely loved Graceling. It is a lot more mature, and I felt it covered a lot more emotions and situations. Each character has its own distinct personality, and you'll feel for all of them. Nash, the weak-minded king smitten by Fire; Brigan his stoic brother; Brocker, the man who brought up Fire and Archer, her first lover and friend. I loved em all.
I loved Fire as a character. Gorgeous in body, she was gorgeous in mind as well. She cared about those around her, and despite the brave face she showed the world, had her own little insecurities. Cashore has created a breathtaking world, with vivid characters and an even paced storyline. You will feel a part of this book while reading it, and live through all of Fire's experiences. You'll love the time with Brigan, and your heart will go out to Archer.
Visit Karyn at her blog Slip Carefully
Royal Reviewer K at 2:00 AM