Fire

by Kristin Cashore

Hardcover, 2009

Call number

JF CAS

Publication

Dial Books (2009), Edition: English Language, 480 pages

Description

In a kingdom called the Dells, Fire is the last human-shaped monster, with unimaginable beauty and the ability to control the minds of those around her, but even with these gifts she cannot escape the strife that overcomes her world.

Media reviews

Cashore is that rare gifted writer who can give a fantasy novel real depth.

User reviews

LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: In the Kingdom of the Dells, there are Monsters... but not horribly, ugly, scary monsters. In the Dells, Monsters are shaped like ordinary creatures - birds, bugs, horses - but are brightly colored, and have the ability to lure, pacify, and control the minds of the ordinary humans. Most
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Monsters are animals, but seventeen-year-old Fire is the last human Monster in the Dells. She has bright red, orange, and pink hair that she has to keep covered lest everyone who sees her fall instantly in love; the ability to sense minds, read thoughts, and control the emotions of weak-willed individuals; and a strict sense of morality that she has forged from her unusual life experience. Fire refuses to let anyone use her as a tool for their own ends, but her kingdom is on the brink of war, and she must find a line between duty and self-preservation, and how best to use the power the has caused her to be isolated, mistrusted, and feared, without overstepping her own boundaries of right and wrong.

Fire is more of a companion novel to Graceling, rather than a prequel proper. However, there is some overlap, for Fire crosses paths with a young boy... a strange young boy with eyes of two different colors, and a gift that seems similar to her own, although infinitely more dangerous and disturbing.

Review: Fire addresses a lot of the same issues as Graceling - a young female with powers that isolate her learning how to be her own woman instead of a tool for those more powerful (or, in Spiderman terms, with great power comes great responsibility, and also great danger of being manipulated into using that power in irresponsible ways.) However, Fire comes at these issues from a much darker place than does Graceling. Katsa is unique, for sure, but not nearly to the same degree as Fire, the last of her kind. That loneliness has left its scars on Fire's psyche, as has her family and childhood, and by giving us glimpses of that damage, Cashore assures that her protagonist will be sympathetic and relatable instead of dangerous and unapproachable. Fire may not be as immediately likeable as Katsa, just because she is something Other, but I think she's actually stronger, and I wound up respecting her immensely.

Likewise, the book itself is a little more serious, a little darker. While there is a romantic storyline, it's a quieter, less quick-witted-banter-y kind of romance, and it's not nearly so much of the focus as was Katsa and Po's relationship in Graceling. Instead, Fire focuses a lot more on the growth of its protagonist, and the romance is mostly significant because it means that Fire has let down enough of her guard to begin to form relationships with other people. Not that the romance scenes weren't romantic - they were, for sure, and Cashore has now provided me with two new BookBoyfriends - but they weren't the main focus.

So, Fire is a darker, sadder, and more emotionally mature book than Graceling, although the pacing, plotting, and worldbuilding are equally well done. All of that being said, I didn't like Fire quite as much as I did Graceling, although that is 100% my problem, and nothing to do with the books themselves. While I listened to Graceling almost straight through, I listened to Fire in many small chunks, spread out over a longer period of time. Also, I must have been distracted during some key parts of the early chunks, because I missed a few elements of backstory - mainly, the secrets and relationships of the previous generation - that made things rather confusing later on. However, I'm sure this will sort itself out with a re-read, and given how much I enjoyed the parts I wasn't confused by, I'm sure I'll be re-reading this some time sooner rather than later. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Fans of YA fantasy, particularly of authors like Tamora Pierce, should check out Kristin Cashore for sure. Fire could easily be read as a stand-alone, although reading it before Graceling might cause some minor spoilers for that book.
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LibraryThing member _Zoe_
This is a prequel to Cashore's Graceling, which I tore through years ago but didn't find very memorable after the fact. So I figured I'd enjoy the book, but wasn't in a huge hurry to read it, and eventually just borrowed it from the library. Now that I've read it, I'm thinking I may have to buy my
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own copy after all, and I'll probably purchase Bitterblue new in hardcover to support the author.

So, this means I liked Fire a lot. It was very different from Graceling, being set in almost an entirely different world. In the Dells there are "monsters", brightly-coloured but potentially more deadly versions of regular creatures. Fire is the only surviving human monster, with a beauty that makes weak-minded people helpless before her and an ability to read and influence other people's thoughts and feelings. She's obviously very powerful, but reluctant to use her power and in many ways ashamed of it because of the horrible example set by her father.

Much of this book is about Fire's struggle to come to terms with herself, and I enjoyed seeing how she adapted to a new environment and eventually opened herself up to other people. I also really appreciated the fact that many of the major conflicts in the book were mental. It's a YA novel, so there's almost inevitably a romance angle, but with none of the "OMG he's so hot!" aspects that you might expect. The romance is based on an intellectual and emotional connection, and I found that incredibly refreshing.

In other ways, too, this is unlike your typical YA novel. The YA classification actually surprised me sometimes, because Fire, despite being seventeen in theory, acts a lot older and has concerns that might seem more fitting to someone in her mid-twenties. I could easily relate, for example, to her reaction to seeing people around her getting pregnant: she desperately wanted children herself, but couldn't have any, because she didn't want to bring another potentially destructive creature like herself into the world. I don't share the latter concern for myself, but I do look jealously at my friends' cute children on Facebook while my own life is delayed by at least six years thanks to graduate school. But at seventeen, this wasn't something that I really thought about at all.

So, I can see this as a book that would appeal to older readers of YA: the world is interesting and fresh, the romance has depth, and the more mature protagonist is easy to relate to. I do wonder a bit about how much it would appeal to actual YAs, but that's not really my concern.
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LibraryThing member la_librarian
Fire is set in a world called the Dells, which is in a state of turmoil and war. I will say that I have NOT yet read Graceling, Cashore’s first novel, so I have no comparison to make in that regard but Graceling is definitely going to be on my “to be read” list. The book begins with a
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disturbing prologue that tells the story of an evil child which is is very unsettling. We then are introduced to Fire, the namesake of the tale who is half human, half monster. Not an ugly monster, but beautiful because in the Dells monsters are exquisitely beautiful and terrifying creatures. They can enter the minds of others and have power over their thoughts and feelings. Fire is the daughter of a particular terrifying and cruel monster named Cansrel and even though she does not take after his cruel nature, she lives in the wake of his evil legacy.

Because of Fire’s talents of sensing thoughts and feelings she is drawn into the mix of political intrigue and is needed by the royal family, although they fear and distrust her. Fire is in a position of power and has much responsibility and at the same time is going through the pain of trying to figure our her place in the world. She finds herself having a particularly strong connection to Brigan, a warrior who is also a prince in the kingdom, even though she cannot enter his particularly strong mind.She is plagued by sadness, loss, the inability to trust, fear of loving someone and losing them.

There is a lot of interpersonal drama and battles with inner demons in addition to the action of the battles and fights. There is the element of coming into one’s own and finding your place in the world. The relationships are very mature and complex. The world that Cashore builds can be confusing to those who aren’t into the political intrigue and strategies of war but she is very original. Although there are no dragons in the Dells, fans of Eragon and other epic fantasies will enjoy this story. Fans of Tamora Pierce will enjoy the strong female lead.
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LibraryThing member thenightbookmobile
"Very old and very kind and the very, very last."

Let me start by saying how much I really adored Fire as a character, and prepare you for my fierce determination to protect her character from all of those who might miss the big picture and call her weak. Above all other things Fire is very much one
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thing, and this one thing is more important than all other things, Fire is kind. Even when she has to do things she'd prefer not to, that may hurt people who need hurting, she is capable of unending compassion. This is all made rather more important when you consider the fact that Fire is actually a human "monster" capable of bending the minds of others to her will, and with a beauty that ensnares all creatures.

But first, before I get too deep into thoughts about her character, let's talk about the story.

Unlike Graceling, Fire's companion novel, this story gripped me from the very start. It was filled with twists and turns but nothing felt forced. The pacing may have been a little weird, which is something I noticed in Graceling as well. Cashore tends to start up slowly, get to the "big" scenes too quickly, and the story does tend to lag a little bit after that point. That wasn't much of a problem for me with this book, because I'd grown attached to Fire, and didn't want it to end. The scenes of her in the purple dress were some of my particular favorites. I don't agree that this story is all that much slower than Graceling's. In the end the books had a similar pace. For those of you who didn't like Leck in Graceling (aka: me) and were put off by the possibility that he might be a major focus in this book: don't worry! He's not. There is just enough Leck in this story, in my opinion, and it was a very neat tie-in to Graceling.

I really loved all of the underlying issues Cashore has managed to throw into this story. The fact that some men do not even attempt to control themselves or their minds when viewing Fire, is pretty much something women all over have to face every day, even if it's on a lesser scale. We are too often seen as meat put out for appraisal. Some days I just want to pump my gas at the gas station or go to the store for paper towels, without being stared at and treated to a chorus of "Hey girl! HEY GIRL! HEY GIRL! C'mon girl, look at me, what's your number?" The problem is that people come to see beauty as something offered to them, as a sign that something is owed to them. It's not. Fire experiences this in her story as well, on a much worse, and larger scale.

The romance in this book was perfection. It developed slowly and felt entirely real because of this. The romance in a book is something authors so often get wrong for me, which is one reason I liked this book so much. The characters were not always saving each other but relied upon each other for understanding and emotional support, that felt entirely genuine. The love that slowly developed did not keep either character from developing individually, or prevent them from playing parts in the story outside of their romance.

Now for some discussion on Fire's character and the endless comparisons of Fire to Katsa that I've seen in several other reviews.

The general consensus of those that disliked this book seems to be that Katsa was tough while Fire was considerably less so. Why is Katsa's outer strength valued higher than Fire's inner strength? When did displaying emotion become a sign of weakness? Fire doesn't rely on anyone to save her. Sometimes she breaks and needs a helping hand. Don't we all? But ultimately she does what needs to be done; she is brave, despite not being graced with survival. She has the courage for kindness and compassion. She is fiercely loyal and relies upon her inner strength much of the time. She's had to do terrible things in the name of her Kingdom and for the greater good and carries that weight with her always. Sometimes she struggles under that weight; isn't that just so infuriatingly human of her?

Fire may not be able to wrestle a mountain lion and kill it with her bare hands - but she'd certainly try if it were going to save someone's life. I'm tired of kindness being undervalued. I'm tired of too much compassion being seen as weak. I'm tired of protagonists being looked down upon as "whiny" for daring to express emotion about anything. I'm tired of the fact that to be respected as a woman in books these days you must shrug off emotion and appear always tough and composed. Sometimes you also must reject motherhood and never rely too much on another human being; especially if that human being happens to be a male love interest. Sure, no one likes a perpetual damsel in distress, but that is so far from what Fire is and represents that I have a hard time comprehending any argument choosing to call her such.

Fire does not reject femininity as much as Katsa. She also longs for a child. Again, this is not weak. I respect Fire's desire to have a child the same as I respected Katsa's desire not to; neither is less of a character in my eyes for their choice. It grows tiring to see women saying things like:

"Not that there's anything wrong with a woman choosing _____ but I feel that if the author were going to write an empowered female she would have written her differently."

The above is nothing but implying that what one woman chooses to be in life is less of an example of a strong woman than the other option, and trying to hide the fact of what you're really saying, which is that your opinion of what a woman is and should be is superior even if you claim to believe in us all having a choice.

Where Katsa ran her horses into the ground without a second thought; Fire is kind to animals and cries when she's caused her horse to be injured. She sleeps in the barn with her horse and treats him as a true companion. This was a relief to me because my only major complaint with Katsa was her treatment of her horses. Yet another sign of kindness and a willingness to care that in no way makes Fire a weak character. Quite the opposite actually.

Another thing that has really bugged me in other reviews is that people seem to be pushing their own personal beliefs on to a character who was never going to share their views. Fire isn't running around having casual sex with everyone she meets, but so what if she was? It's her body and not anyone's to police. I think people need to take their own narrow world views out of the picture when they read a book. The sexual bits of this book were hardly explicit and I don't see why this would not be considered acceptable for a YA audience. You know that teaching abstinence only education and pretending that teenagers cannot possibly be mature enough to read details about sex is quite likely the reason that so many young adults end up pregnant, right? I wish people would stop policing other woman's bodies and choices; both in the real world and in the fictional.

And for those angry about (view spoiler) You can say you don't have a problem with lesbians all that you want but when you call an author's choice to use a character, who is perhaps not heteronormative, in their writing a problem; then you are a bigot. Plain and simple. There need to be more positive LBGT role models in fiction, not less.

I will just end this review by saying that I think Fire is a Hufflepuff if I ever saw one. Helga would be proud
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This is Cashore's second book, which is being called a "companion" to the first book, Graceling. It's not a sequel, because the only thing the two books share is a cameo really from a character in the first book. This one can easily stand alone. The heroine Fire is a "monster." Like Katsa in
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Graceling she's specially marked and specially gifted in a way that sets her off, but otherwise they're little alike and the plot and characters are very different. It's a book that really pulls you in and doesn't disappoint.

That said, I did rate this book half a star less than Graceling, and I'm not sure that's really because this book is the lesser. I read Graceling right after the "Twilight Saga" which I got through because part of me can't look away from a trainwreck, particularly one everyone else is gawking at. Coming from the passivity that is Twilight's Bella Swan, Katsa was just the antidote for my nausea--her opposite in every way. She's a kick-ass heroine that fights, often literally, to change the world around her rather than being acted upon. By the time I read Fire, I didn't feel the same fierce need for an anti-Bella. But the other reason is that while I can still vividly remember Graceling, I have to admit that a few years after first reading this I remembered nothing of Fire before a reread--it was an entertaining reread, but five-star reads are ones that linger in the mind--and preferably ones you can find something new in the second time around. That said, if you're looking for a diverting work of high fantasy with a strong heroine I'd think this is a book you'd very much enjoy. I'd recommend reading Graceling first--not because you need to, or because this book would be a spoiler, but I think that book presents Cashore at her best. (Though I'm currently reading the sequel Bitterblue, and about a quarter way in I think that might match or surpass it.)
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LibraryThing member wbentrim
Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire was a monster, a mutant that had extraordinary powers that attracted those like her, who wanted to destroy her. Her powers made her valuable to those in power who wished to use them for their purposes. This story encompasses her acceptance of both her powers and herself
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in concert with those she grows to love and respect. This is a tale of battle and conflict, high emotions and frightening consequences.

Fire was impossible not to like. Her introspection and self depreciation enhanced her vulnerability and made you want to protect her. Cashore’s descriptions illuminated Fire’s beauty and depicted the depravity and desperation that surrounded her. I thought Cashore did a masterful portray of human foibles with Fire gradually coming to the realization that her perceived inability to aspire to perfection was reflected in that same inability for perfection in all whom she met. Fires confrontation with amoral sociopathic behavior was a catharsis of dynamic magnitude for her self image. The dialogue and scene painting were well done. Cashore’s description provided the raw material that enabled me to envision the environment in which Fire survived. I was particularly touched by Fire’s love for Small, her horse. I found myself saddened by Fire’s inability to understand why her guards became her friends. The self sacrificing nature Fire exhibited was subtly depicted with understanding and pathos.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I will be getting “Graceling” which came out before this book. “Fire” is the prequel to “Graceling”. This may only be Kristin Cashore’s second book but if her quality is maintained at this level, she is going to be a force in the Fantasy genre to be reckoned with; up there with Elizabeth Moon and Mercedes Lackey, she is that good!

I don’t just recommend this book, I insist that if you enjoy fantasy and astoundingly good character depiction, you must get this book!
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LibraryThing member callmecayce
I loved Graceling quite a bit when I read it, but now that I've finished Fire, I love it even more (more than I thought possible). At times, I felt like like I was listening to a great fantasy epic that I never wanted to end (which was odd, because I don't like fantasy epics, though maybe I should
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start listening to them instead of trying to read them). In fact, even as I sat in the car this afternoon, waiting for Fire to end -- I didn't want it to end. I wanted to just keep on listening and listening to it forever. I loved all the characters in the novel and I especially loved how Cashore made them all into 3 dimensional characters, even those that only appears for a few scenes. I liked Fire. She was strong and wonderful and everything a good heroine should be, while at the same time she was mixed with a heavy does of how hard life truly is. I almost wanted to put the first disc back in and listen to the whole book again.
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LibraryThing member ownlittleworld
Recommended For: Everyone, Fans of Fantasy, Readers who love a strong female protagonist.

(First Impression: Gorgeous cover. Definitely grabs your attention at first glance)
(Reaction after I finished: I don't remember. I might have flailed around a bit, it was just that good.)

My Summary:

Fire is a
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monster. Or rather half-human, half-monster. Her viciously bright hair and her flawless appearance make her an outcast in the world she lives in. But her beauty isn't the only thing that keeps her displaced from society. Fire has the ability to read and control people's minds. Unlike her father, she chooses not to inflict her ability on the weak minded. But she soon learns that there is more to her power than she could ever dream.

The story takes place in a mountainous and rough world. Separated by the impassible Western mountains and hidden away from the Seven Kingdoms, The Dells is a land filled with treachery, deceit, and a kingdom heading towards impending war. Among the cities of The Dells is King's City - home of the royal family who are plagued by a legacy of a king turned to madness. With the kingdom on a slow descent to ruin, King Nash must right his father's wrongs and prevent the land from falling into the plotting hands of two conniving lords. But the war isn't the only thing threatening to disturb the peace. A young boy with two different colored eyes has plans of his own.

A story wrought with tension, despair, hope, and love - it will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat until you finish.

My Review:

Taking place at least 30 years before its companion, Graceling, Kristin Cashore delivers such a rich and compelling tale that will hold you in rapture. It reveals a whole new world beyond the lands of the Seven Kingdoms, full of secrets, hidden agendas, and deadly creatures. It's dark, beautiful, and unfolds with a certain elegance that is borderline perfection. The pacing is one of the strong points of the novel and takes the reader completely through the journey and envelopes them in a mixture of emotions. Fire, herself, is a force to be reckoned with. She is such a strong female protagonist and provides so much intensity to the story while also giving the reader a sense of warmth and independence.

I loved how easily I got lost within the pages. So mixed with intrigue, love, complexity, morality, and more, that I never wanted it to end.

The only thing that is keeping Fire from a 5 star rating in my books, is the ending. I felt it lacked somewhat (I want more, more, more!) but trust me when I say that it does not, in any way, take away from the quality of the book.

Notable aspects:

* I admire Kristin Cashore's ability to give two distinct voices to two separate heroines in both Graceling and Fire. They are strong, original and both unique in their own way.
* The writing itself is just so eloquent and flowing with purpose. I can't recall a time when the novel lost pace or the writing became uninteresting. And the descriptions are so teeming with vivacity and life that it is easy to wrap yourself around the words.
* Like Graceling, Fire has a strong plot of romance, but it doesn't overwhelm the feel of the book. It is wonderfully developed and gives to the overall story, rather than taking away from it.

For those of you who are wondering, you needn't have read Graceling before Fire in order to enjoy it. Come to think of it, Fire works just fine as a standalone novel. Although, I can pretty much guarantee once you finish it you'll be grabbing for Graceling with hasty hands. Whether you read it before the first, or read it alone, just make sure you READ it, period! A worthy and satisfying sequel (or rather prequel) to its companion, Graceling.
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LibraryThing member devilwrites
The premise: ganked from BN.com: She is the last of her kind...

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies
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and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next.

My Rating: 7 - Good Read

Overall, I enjoyed Fire quite a bit, and what I really appreciate is how, even though this book is YA, it doesn't feel like YA. The characters don't act like modern teens stuck in a medieval fantasy (heck, there was no such thing as adolescence or teenage years in the medieval age), and that really appeals to me. If you weren't given their ages, you'd have no idea these characters were "teens," and that reminds me, in a good way, of Megan Whalen Turner's YA fantasy series, starting with The Thief. Cashore's books are a little more romantic-centric in nature, and yet even though there's romantic subplots, Cashore breaks from the mold of YA heroines living and breathing for their heroes. Fire is an interesting, well developed character, though due to the psychological scars of her childhood, it takes her a while to overcome her fears, and that at times was frustrating to read. Despite that, this is a rather complex fantasy, especially for YA, and the world Cashore's created is fascinating. I will say that while this is a prequel/companion novel to Graceling, there's no actual reading order for the two books. If I had to suggest one, I'd say Graceling just because it was published first, but it really doesn't matter. Both books stand on their own two feet, and feature equally different but equally compelling heroines. I found I preferred Graceling to Fire, but there were elements of Fire I found to be stronger. It's a fantasy series that's easy to recommend, especially for the older side of the YA spectrum.

Spoilers, yay or nay?: Yay. Cashore's fantasy is unique in that it's YA only because of the age of her characters, but everything else feels like adult fare. We're going to talk about whether or not that's a problem, why and why not, and why it didn't need to be billed as a "companion" novel to Graceling. Yes, spoilers (and a few for Graceling as well), so don't click below if you've not yet read the book. However, if you have, the full review may be found at my blog. As always, comments and discussion are welcome.

REVIEW: Kristin Cashore's FIRE

Happy Reading!
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LibraryThing member emilyannward
I picked up this book after reading Graceling and enjoying it. I read bits and pieces of the beginning, then read nearly 300 pages last night, and finished it today.

Fire is a monster in the Dells. She has bright red hair and looks that make monsters and men attracted to her, sometimes dangerously
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so. Fire becomes involved in the political moves of the royal family of the Dells when they realize her mental capabilities to get information she needs. Honestly, the book doesn't have one single plot but rather a collection of subplots, all intriguing.

The main difference between Fire and Graceling is the pace. Though both are fairly slow-paced compared to most YA fantasy I've read, Fire has a slower pace than its counterpart. It has more focus on the politics of the Dells: the king who left behind a messy kingdom and the two Lords rebelling against him. Fire also has much of the shame that Katsa had from her ability and also from her father, who ruled the past king with cruelty. Fire feels like an object and refuses to be used for malicious means. Unlike Katsa, however, Fire rarely physically defends herself. She relies on her mind and her control over other people's minds. It would have been nice to actually see her not get rescued, but she kept getting into pretty horrific situations and she was not physically strong aside from her bow and arrow.

Fire goes through a lot in the book. In the beginning of the book, she's very solitary with about as many friends as she has fingers on one hand. Later when she travels to the King's City, she's faced with the reality of her blood. Monsters hunt her, some men want to overpower her, others want to marry her. She slowly rises above this shame to help the royal court with the spies and forms special relationships. Ultimately, it's a story of her development as she uses her powers for good, comes to accept who she is, and forgives herself for things she's done in the past.

Overall, I really liked Fire, but I wished more could have happened. The romance was so underplayed compared to Katsa and Po, and I kept thinking, "When are they going to get together??" I can't deny the politics were very interesting, but I'm left hoping more could happen with the characters I've grown to love
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LibraryThing member satyridae
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book. It suffers when compared to Graceling, I think, as the plot is a little muddier and the characters not quite so strong. I found much of the monster stuff to be inconsistent- why do all monsters try to kill Fire but then, inexplicably, we have a
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scene where monster kittens are playing contentedly in Fire's hair, and she's letting them? That was the biggest issue for me- the monster stuff seemed entirely whimsical and inconsistent from page to page.

The story itself was gripping, and I enjoyed being carried away by it. I like the strength of the female characters, and the growth we see in Fire over the course of the book. I adored Hannah, and would love to see her in a book all her own someday. I'm looking forward to more from Cashore.
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LibraryThing member katiedoll
Fire is a wonderful companion to Graceling that certainly met my expectations; the same gorgeous writing with a new cast of compelling characters (except for one) and new battles to face. I will admit that it doesn’t compare to my love for Graceling, and none of the characters come even close to
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replacing my love for Katsa and Po, but I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

I started off confused. Very, very confused. And to be honest, a little put off. Colored animals called “monsters?” It was a bit odd, even for the Graceling world. But the more I read, the more the confusion subsided and the oddness began to start to feel natural. Then I was completely enraptured in Fire; her gift, her beauty that is both despised and desired and the slow relationship between her and Prince Brigan.

I did wish to see more of Leck though. Like Graceling, he seemed to have such a pivotal role and I think his presence and part in the story towards the end was just too extravagant for his small moments leading up to it.

Overall, Kristin Cashore has outdone herself with Fire. It’s another terrific fantasy novel, with all of the adventure and romance and intensity that we all loved in Graceling. If you’ve read Graceling, I definitely recommend you go out and get this one ASAP!
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LibraryThing member jolerie
The Dells is a place of unsurpassed beauty, a breathtaking landscape that is filled with a variety of monsters. Fire is the last of the human monsters. Named after the vibrant lustre of her flame red hair, Fire has the ability to infiltrate and control minds and yet she is loathe to exercise a
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power that violates a person's right to privacy and freewill. With the Dells on the verge of civil war between two threatening warlords and a reigning monarchy, Fire will have to choose between denying her extraordinary birthright at the cost of innocent lives or rising to meet her destiny - to fully own the powers that will enable her to protect the throne and to uncover the secrets that permeate the empire and the people closest to her heart.

Fire is a prequel to Graceling and tells us of a story that occurred before the time of Katsa and the Seven Kingdoms. Although at first it seems that the two stories have nothing in common but we soon realize that there is one common bridge that fills the gaps between the two time periods and that one bridge is one filled with drama, intrigue, and love. Once again, Cashore creates a world that is not like any other and each page is filled with the ingredients that make for an enjoyable and entertaining read. The only thing left to do is to read the third and final book in the series to see how the conclusion of the story will unfold and what the fates will dole out for the people of the Seven Kingdoms.
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LibraryThing member bonbonsandreveries
Fire is the last human monster-and she intends for it to stay that way. Fire’s father, also a monster, was the king’s best friend who used his power to get what he wanted. He did terrible things just because he could. Fire was the only person her father loved and who was never under the
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influence of his power. Over time Fire realized her father was not good. After her father’s death, she vowed never to have children-that the line of human monsters end with her.
The novel starts with Fire getting shot with an arrow. The shooter is one of the many men being found around the kingdom who have clouded minds and don’t seem to understand what they are doing. Fire is asked to help the royal family interrogate prisoners with her ability to reach into people’s minds. However this proves difficult since Fire refuses to do anything bad with her ability. On top of that, she also has to deal with Lord Brigan who seems to be set in hating her, King Nash who keeps declaring his love for her at every opportunity, Archer’s (her lover) growing jealousy, and a boy with different colored eyes who gives her the chills. The story is set during a tension filled time leading up to a huge war which takes place has the story progresses.
I LOVED this book! I read it twice and still couldn’t stop thinking about it. Fire is such a strong character and yet ironic character. Fire’s beauty drives men mad. Many try and kill her because they know they can’t have her. Others harass her and then turn to violence. She is hated by those who hated her father and even worse, is only trusted by her close friends. Throughout the course of the story she has to overcome all of these difficulties.
Lord Brigan. I couldn’t imagine a hotter knight in shining armor. He’s so strong and was forced into the army at a young age by Fire’s father in hopes that he would die. Instead, he emerged a hero. He grew up distrusting monsters and because of that distrusts and hates Fire. However over time his heart softens and he sees Fire as a human instead of a monster.
This story was just riveting. I was engrossed in the novel from the very first page. It had suspense, adventure, and romance. It was epic. I thought it was so much better than Graceling even though it is a prequel or companion novel. It takes place years before Graceling. Also, I love reading books that have a redhead protagonist because, well, I am one! Overall, I highly recommend this book. I borrowed it from the library, and will probably one day buy it so that I may reread it a million more times.
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LibraryThing member LarissaBookGirl
Fire is a monster. Not because of who she is or what she's done, but because of what she is, and what her father was. Monsters are not uncommon in the Dells, all being bright and beautiful and unnaturally coloured, what is uncommon is a human monster; and Fire is the last.

However, not all monsters
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are distinguished by their bright vibrant rainbow of colours. Some are the most unassuming of people, others are greedy and hateful men, and others still are dark memories that refuse to rest. In a world on the edge of disaster, is Fire the one to fear as the bringer of destruction, or will she be the only chance of survival?

Fire must make a choice, between what she was born to be, and what she wants to be. There is a war coming, enemies at every turn and murder on everyone's mind. Everybody has a secret, and the past is fast catching up with the present. Not everyone will survive and those that do will have blood on their hands. But not all is lost, for one way or the other the war will end, and with that ending there will be a new beginning.

In Graceling we are introduced to stories and rumours of rainbow coloured monsters in the land beyond the seven kingdoms. In Fire we learn that these stories are true. Fire may have been born a monster, but she is more human then most. And as Fire discovers, some of the scariest monsters were born human.

Fire is a story that draws you in, taking you on a journey that is full of twist and turns and surprises. It is both intriguing and insightful as death, loss and heartache are experienced. But this fast paced and entertaining story also holds hope, love and new life. Fire is a strong and powerful character that has also the ability for vulnerability. Despite her monsterness and great beauty she is warm and relatable; a stunning heroine.
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LibraryThing member stephxsu
In the country of the Dells, monsters—brilliantly colored creatures with irresistible allure—roam, seduce, and terrify. 17-year-old Fire is the last human monster, born at a time when politics are deceptive and mistrust abounds. Her incredible beauty and her ability to manipulate others’
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thoughts earns her admirers and enemies alike, but her life truly changes when she’s drawn out of her secluded rural home and into the capitol city to help the king discover information about the lords who are plotting an uprising. It was one thing to hide in seclusion from her father’s terrible legacy, but it’s another to use her ability in a whole other manner…

When an author whose second novel far surpasses her already critically acclaimed debut novel, you know there’s something special going on. Kristin Cashore is such an author, and FIRE is such a book. Not since Robin McKinley has an author written so convincingly of a politically charged fantasy world.

The protagonist, Fire, has the cursed gift of absolute beauty and attractiveness, and many times during the course of the book, she brings up the question, “How does gender factor into the reaction to beauty?” For Fire constantly encounters men who want to do unspeakable things to her at the very sight of her, while her equally attractive father had people falling at his feet, eager to do his bidding. Call it fantasy for sure, but FIRE contains a lot of gender politics that could make for interesting discussions, even in the classroom.

Kristin Cashore deftly unfolds Fire’s past into her present story, which helps readers slowly understand and appreciate her judgments. Even so, FIRE is an intensely emotional read, especially at the end. Its ability to affect me so strongly is one of the things I like best about it, though. The romance between Fire and Brigan is less developed than the one between Katsa and Po in GRACELING, but Kristin gives depth to all the characters, not simply the protagonist and her love interest, and I’d much rather have three-dimensionality in all my characters than in just the two main ones.

It’s difficult to say this for sure right now, but if you had to read only one hard fantasy YA book this year, FIRE just might be the one. It’s blend of fantasy, romance, political intrigue, and feminism will appeal to all fantasy lovers, and then some.
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LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
Billed as the prequel to Kristin Cashore’s wonderful fantasy, Graceling, Fire is a prequel only in the most remote sense. In an off-the-cuff manner, it introduces the concept of a graceling (a person endowed with almost superhuman ability in a specific area) and a graceling character that appears
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in both books. However, Fire stands very well on its own.

Fire, in this story, is a human monster. In her native The Dells, monsters come in amazing colors. Fire’s hair is a shimmering red which draws animal monsters to her because they like to feed on each other. Fire’s beauty makes men fall in love with her. But people are also repelled by monsters. Her talent is telepathy. She can read peoples’ minds and transmit her thoughts wordlessly. This talent is put to use by King Nash and Prince Brigan of The Dells, whose lords to the north and south are contemplating war.

Fire is the daughter of Cansrel, also a monster and a confidante of King Nash’s father. Cansrel was known for his telepathic talents and his utter cruelty. Until her fifteenth birthday, Fire lived in virtual seclusion with Brogan, a former Dell military commander and his son Archer, three years older than Fire. Archer and Fire developed a close, and at times, suffocating love. When Fire is summoned by King Nash to interrogate a prisoner, Archer does not want her to go but she feels she must. This decision begins a series of events that will test Fire’s abilities, her love and her friendships. Over the course of months, Fire becomes an integral part of the royal court and learns what love and friendship are all about.

So, what makes Fire, the book, special? So many things. The characters are marvelous, from the royal family to Fire and her family to the enemy lords to the invisible archer to the river mare who follows Fire at a distance. The place itself, The Dells, is wonderfully described, including the underground passage ways, the mountains and rocky plains. The action is engrossing, the plotting amongst the lords, the retribution for slights, the planning for war, even the attacks of the monsters. The romance, while anticipated, is enjoyable. Cashore has a way of making readers need to keep reading, need to see what happens next, need to get to the end. Pick up Fire and you won’t get burned.
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LibraryThing member TheBookCellar
Fire was phenomonal, there's no other way to put it! Starting with page 1, it drew you in, leaving you entranced with Fire's world. Once again, Kristin Cashore draws up an outstanding world, just outside of the one we encounter in Graceling. Graceling was outstanding, and when reading Fire I wasn't
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sure what to expect. Fire surpassed all my expectations and then some.

All the characters were very 3-D, which added a lot to the novel. Fire was such a great character, her past was revealed as part of the story. So you not only got what was going on now, but also what happened in the past. All the characters really draw you in with their emotions, and that's a big part of the novel. I loved the romance between Fire and Brigan, it was slow building, but it stuck out at readers like a red hot poker.

The fact with the "monsters" that was really great was that monsters had the same effect on everyone and the effect wasn't gender specific. In most novels, it's the female character that gets people to do their bidding, but in Fire Fire's father had people groveling to do his will.

Definately a must read! (Though make sure to read Graceling before you read Fire, or you ruin Graceling.)
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LibraryThing member Tynga
An epic medieval adventure mixed with the right amount of fantasy and suspense to have you craving for more! This is what you'll get when reading Fire.

Fire is a monster. A being of extreme beauty able to mind control any weak or willing mind in her surroundings. She is the last human monster and
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many try to make sure there will never be someone else like her by ending her days.

In a time of war, there are more important matters though. Fire have been summoned by King Nash to help him in an imminent war, but will she help him? Her powers are so terrible, how could she use them?

I really loved the book in so many ways! Fire is one lovely women. A monster yes, but so much more then that. A great mind, great morality, decided to do the greater good even though she has a shady past.
Many very interesting characters are involved during her journey and I found myself very fond of Brigan. Mysterious, handsome, talented and so out of reach!
Kristin bring us so deep in the medieval atmosphere that you feel right in the middle of the action all the time, I could totally picture myself in a stone castle plotting to put an end to the kingdom's enemies.

I haven't read Graceling yet (ordered it right as I finished Fire though) so I can't tell you how Fire fits in. I read the resume of Graceling and I'm kinda sad because it doesn't seem like I can expect to see Fire or Brigan in that novel. Hopefully I am wrong!
Fire release in September or October depending on your country, but you gotta pre-order that book! Every fantasy lover out there will fall for that book hands down!
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LibraryThing member msjessicamae
Wow, when I started Fire I was a bit disappointed that is was not a continuation of Graceling. I was a bit disappointed that I had to learn about a new land as well as new people. Now I am disappointed that it is over. I adored this book!

It took me a few chapters to warm up to the new characters,
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especially since I did not realize when I bought the book that it was not going to be continuing with Katsa. Like I said, I was disappointed that I had to spend time becoming familiar with this new setting but that is because I am so enthralled with Cashore’s writing I wanted to jump right in where I had left off with Graceling.

Now that it is over I feel like I should be sad to have finished the story so quickly but the story closed so beautifully that I don’t feel any sort of loss. I was so engulfed in the story that I didn’t even realize I was reading the epilogue until I paused in the second paragraph and noticed the heading. I wasn’t sad because the characters were leaving me but content as if I was releasing them to continue their lives. How does Cashore do that?

There are so many things I loved about this book but most of all I love how strong and independent Cashore’s female characters are. Fire is someone I want to be friends with, someone I want to learn from. I want her confident independence and I think it is so important for young girls to read about women (even fictional) who have that kind of strength and independence, women who view that strength as a vital quality.

I cannot say enough about this book and how much I love Kristin Cashore’s writing. I can’t wait for the next one.
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LibraryThing member Lark-Avocet
I definitely enjoyed this book. Cashore seems like a strong writer and I would expect that I will like all of her books. She has a knack with character development. I don't think I have met one "stock" character in either of her books. I feel like I know who her characters are without the aide of
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the archetypical attributes, to which some authors fall prey. I also enjoy her brand of storytelling. Though a bit laborious in parts as a previous commenter mentioned, I like the balance of focus between the plot and the characters in the book. Some authors let twists and turns bog down a story so much that it is hard to see the characters for the plot (the forest for the trees). Cashore has taken care to write a compelling story with compelling characters. The premise is creative and it does not remind me of other books as I am reading, it is rather unique. This is refreshing as we are seeing a lot of recycling in the Young Adult genre of late with vampires, werewolves, wizards, and the like. Not that vamps, weres and Harry Potter are bad, quite the opposite actually ;), it is just that I am glad to see that the Young Adult fantasy genre is not being pigeonholed into a description of "popular Halloween costumes."

Now, praise out of the way, there are some issues that some readers might find tiresome. There are definite morals to Cashore's stories and at times I felt like I was getting beaten over the head with them. I caught myself on several occasions thinking, "I get it, ok! Can we move along?" Then at other times there were elements of the story that felt incongruous with the rest of the book or maybe just over or under played to the point of confusion.

My last critique may be seen as a positive to some readers. Cashore likes tidy little bows at the end of her stories. This is a good thing for most people. The problem is that she makes sure to tie up all lose ends to a point of exhaustion. I feel like she either needs to take care of dangling plot points along the way more often or she needs to just leave some plot points hanging at the end of the book. We are readers, we can make something up! What happens is that the climax of the tale is over and done; however, there is so much book left you find yourself anticipating another twist in the plot. Alas, there is none, only housekeeping. If she stopped the story proper early and included the last 30-50 pages as a Prologue, I probably would not feel this way.

I have given this book a 4-star rating and it would have been a 4.5 if I had the option. Some books are so average or terrible that there is no room to critique them at all. I feel like I have been hard on Cashore in this review but it is only because I think her books are so good that they can handle a healthy critique.

Read it. Read Graceling too. Good stuff.
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LibraryThing member flemmily
I enjoyed the way this book unfolded. Most of the first half seems like exposition, and by the time things really start happening I found myself looking at the number of pages left and thinking it there would have to be another book in order to round it all out nicely. But there isn't, and Cashore
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tied it all together anyway.
I realize this doesn't necessarily sound like a positive, but the structure of this book works very well anyway.
Her writing does remind me of Tamora Pierce's, with a little more romance and a little less period language. Her heroines are also a little more tortured (as in emo tortured, rather than tortured by other people tortured).
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LibraryThing member Isamoor
Oct09:

Good. Not as great as Gracling, but so few sequels are :)

Plot: Not actually too much of a plot. You knew who the villain was from the beginning and you also knew that he would get away. The politics weren't that interesting and the rest of it was about relationships. Slowly filling in the
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backstory was about the best part.

Characters: Well, Fire was okay. The love interest was pretty good but didn't get much page time. Most of the older generation wasn't that interesting. I actually liked the current king as a good round character.

Style: And here we come to the winner. Partly was the world building started in Graceling, but a lot of it was done here. She does a good job describing a rough world with new yet consistent "laws of the land". The economies and people seem logical. And you care about what happens to the population as a whole. Fire's powers are cool, even if she isn't really a badass.
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LibraryThing member psychobabble4u
The first 40 pages were a bit confusing and I struggled to make sense of "the monsters" wanting to somehow link them with the first book. Once I got beyond that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters are strong and well defined, the story is imaginative and most important, well written.
LibraryThing member librarymeg
Kristin Cashore is now officially in a knock-down, drag-out fight for the title of "Favorite Fantasy Author Ever." I absolutely loved Graceling, and had very high expectations for Fire which were not disappointed. I adored Graceling for Katsa, its strong, capable, independent, vulnerable, and
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amazing main character. Fire, the prequel/companion's main character, is every bit as strong, vulnerable, amazing, etc. as Katsa, and yet the two characters could not have been more different. The two books feel connected, and you can definitely tell that they were written by the same author, but the plots and characters and settings are wholly new and intriguing. An incredible achievement by Cashore, in my opinion. She's no one-trick pony, and I'm waiting with bated breath for her next installment. In the battle for the title of Favorite Fantasy Author Ever, I can only hope that Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins keep sending new work my way so I never actually have to make the final call!
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Pages

461

ISBN

0803734611 / 9780803734616
Page: 3.5117 seconds