Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Fire" by Kristin Cashore

Summary: In this companion to Graceling, the world of the Dells is explored, where animals and people--called monsters--with extraordinary beauty and the ability to control people's minds exist.  Fire is one such monster, and she lives in a secluded area with her childhood friend and lover, Archer.  However, Fire is soon drawn into the oncoming war between the King and rival lords and must decide how she will use her powers.  She must also confront her ambivalence toward her monster father and her feelings for Prince Brigan.

Musings: I really enjoyed Graceling, despite finding the ending unsatisfactorily structured, and had been waiting to read this sort-of prequel for awhile.  Much of what I loved about Fire was also found in Graceling: a strong heroine, a romance filled with pining (and mutual respect), and an interesting fantasy world.  Fire is much like Graceling's Katsa in her independence, her unwillingness to be controlled, and her uncertainty over her power.  Her relationship with Brigan is also much like Katsa's relationship with Po, although the very private development of Katsa and Po's relationship contrasts with the slower and more public relationship of Fire and Brigan.

Fire leans even more toward the "traditional" fantasy side, with emphasis on politics, kingdoms, and large-scale wars, rather than just the magic of the world and characters.  I was a little concerned I wouldn't be interested, but as the novel progressed, I found myself being drawn more toward the characters, even though I cared less about the wars.

Cashore is great at creating a feminist fantasy world, and she does the same in Fire.  There was perhaps more focus on menstruation than another other fantasy book I've read (and I've never seen such debilitating PMS before!), but I like that Cashore focuses on real issues facing women, men, and relationships.

The ending to this novel also felt a little off to me, as did the ending to Graceling, and I didn't quite comprehend the emotion Fire displays through the end.  However, it was a fun read in a world I would love to revisit.

***This book qualifies for the TwentyTen Reading Challenge, completing the "young adult" category.

1 comment:

  1. and I've never seen such debilitating PMS before!

    lol - I hadn't thought of it in those exact terms, but you're so right!

    Cashore writes, in some ways, very grown up YA fantasy. It's not explicit or anything, but she clearly expects her readers to have a level of maturity that other YA writers don't take into account (ie, menstruation and heroines who are adamant about not having babies). It's something that I really appreciate!