Fire is the prequel novel to Kristen Cashore’s amazing debut novel Graceling. It takes place slightly earlier in her worlds timeline and covers the background history of Graceling’s powerful villain, Leck.
Fire is both the title of the novel and the main character, a beautiful human/monster hybrid with brilliantly coloured hair, special gifts and the burden of the legacy that her monster father, Cansrel, left behind. Cansrel had not only been infamous for his physical beauty, but for his cruelty, his twisted appetites and his ability to control weaker minds including that of the former king.
Fire had been raised at the edge of the Dells, a wild land of where monsters and humans battle with each other for survival, ever menaced by the leaders or tribes from the lands on their borders. She is the last of her kind and events in the world conspire to send Fire beyond the comfort and security of the territory she has known to the King’s City. Along the way, she learns about the true scope of her powers, the depth of human relationships and the responsibilities that come with the talents she learns to wield.
I’d read a few polarizing reviews about Fire while writing my own summary of Cashore’s debut novel, Graceling, for the Cannonball Read IV challenge. Because of them, I put off diving into Fire and my oldest daughter beat me to it. She was quite impressed with Fire, even though we both agree that Kasta (from Graceling) is a far more intriguing heroine. The strength in Cashore’s ability to create convincing and memorable characters lies in the fact that they are not carbon copies replicated from other stories. Her wild, wonderful and diverse personalities each have their own strengths, weaknesses and intriguing idiosyncrasies.
When it came time to read Fire for myself, I found some of the issues raised in Cashore’s tale to be highly relevant and timely. Given the current politically policies in the United States that threaten a woman’s right to decide what happens with her own body, some of the issues that Fire and other female characters deal with are powerful questions for young women of our own era to wrestle with. With two such captivating YA novels under her belt, I can’t wait to see what a complex tale Cashore weaves in Bitterblue, the chronological sequel to Graceling.
Paperback format, 461 pages, copyright 2009, 2010, 2011 by Firebird Fantasy.