In this companion/prequelish to Graceling, Fire is the last remaining human monster in the Dells. She has the ability to see into peoples minds and alter their thoughts. She is hesitant to use this power because her father abused it and his abuse has sent the Dells into turmoil and heading towards civil war. Fire is asked by King Nash to use her power to prevent the war or tip the scales in his favor once it starts. As she travels to the palace, she discovers her own strength in her power and realizes she can save the kingdom.
I usually read books in one or two sittings at the most. Fire took me months to read. I would pick it up read a few pages and decide I didn’t feel like reading or start a different book. With that being said, I always picked it back up again. Which is more than I can say for some books. (*cough cough* 5th Wave by Rick Yancy…Though I may be more willing to give that book a try later) All in all, Fire fell flat, especially in comparison with Graceling. The writing is still well done, like in Graceling. It is a sort of prequel, the reader gets to see a little bit of what King Leck was like as a child, but that is definitely a subplot. I think the problem was with Fire herself. While the characterization was well done, I got annoyed with her. I understood where she was coming from and was a well-rounded character, but the whininess was hard to take. Especially, because her beauty is unparalleled, which is an interesting problem to take on in a book, but hard I think for normal girls to relate to.
Compared to Katsa, who was much more engaging, Fire was a self-absorbed and harder to relate to. It may have been better if Cashore altered the viewpoints between Fire and another character (maybe Archer or Brigan) to give the reader a break from Fire. It would have given a different perspective and I might have been able to relate to Fire more from a distance.
One of the things I really appreciated in this book was the attitude towards sex. I liked that Cashore continued what she started in Graceling. Sex was never something that needed to wait until marriage. Sex was very much something that was up to the people involved. I liked that it was never demonized. Brigan’s daughter was out of wedlock, but that was never a problem within the royal family.
There there was little humor to the book. I don’t think I ever laughed out loud during it, and I didn’t really even do a small chuckle. It was a serious book, without a lot of serious topics to back it up. I am interested to read Bitterblue, the next book the Cashore wrote. It is supposed to be more of a sequel to Graceling. Hopefully, it will redeem this kind of series for me.