Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Graceling Realm (Book 2)
Publication Date: October 5, 2009
Format: Paperback, 480 Pages
ISBN-10: 014241591X (Firebird/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-0142415917 (Firebird/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Kristie
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 and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.
Everyone . . . except Prince Brigan.
Quick & Dirty: Exceptional fantasy that will have you entranced by the world and brokenhearted for the people who live there.
Opening Sentence: Larch often thought that if it had not been for his newborn son, he never would have survived his wife Mikra’s death.
Fire is a monster. Born with unnaturally colored hair and a gift for reading and influencing other people’s minds, Fire is the only human monster left in The Dells. As a monster, people are strangely attracted to her and monster animals are attracted to her blood. Fire has tried to avoid people as much as possible because of how they react to her. She has lived on her own since she was fifteen when her monster father was mauled to death by one of his pet monsters, but she has been watched over by her close friend Archer and his father.
A war is looming in The Dells and poachers have been encroaching on the lands near her home. Fire is injured by a poacher whose mind is strangely muddled and then he is mysteriously killed before he can reveal who he works for. Fire is then sent to King’s City to see if she can find out who is responsible for the muddled minds and poaching, to see if it is one of the rebel’s that want to go to war. She is escorted by King Nash’s brother Brigan, the leader of the King’s Army. Brigan is cruel to her because of what she is, but they slowly develop an understanding for each other.
Fire begins to learn more about herself and her powers while she is at King’s City. She does things that she said she would never do, but she manages to do it in a way that stays true to herself, while helping the kingdom combat a pending war. Everyone seems to think that Fire wants to use her evil ways to marry the King and then corrupt the country, but Fire only has eyes for Brigan, even though she believes he hates her. The personal and political intrigue that Fire learns will change her life forever and it will also change the way she perceives the people in her life.
Fire is an intelligent teenage woman. She knows she has the potential to do horrible things but she doesn’t want to be like her father. She defies everyone’s expectations of her. Fire has to be my favorite character is this series so far. She is stuck in the middle of the political intrigue and action and this novel flows much more smoothly because of it. I always looked forward to the scenes between Fire and Brigan.
The Graceling Realm is expanded in a magically different way from Graceling/Bitterblue. The world is littered with beautifully colored monsters that I would love to see but as blood thirsty as they are I am glad I don’t live in this world. An evil character makes his appearance from Graceling to tie the books together. One thing I have learned from Kristin Cashore novels are that the main characters are left physically and/or mentally scarred. One event was predictable to me from the very beginning but I don’t want to spoil it for new readers.
Overall, Fire was another entertaining installment into the fantasy world of the Gracelings. I did not read this series in order but I did wish that I had read this before Bitterblue to better understand events in it but it isn’t necessary.
Brigan left, presumably to do what Fire said; and Fire sat alone, puzzling over the boy. His right eye was gray and his left eye was red, which was strange enough in itself. His hair was blond like wheat, his skin light, and he had the appearance of being ten or eleven. Could he be some kind of Pikkian? He was sitting facing her, a rodent monster in his lap, a mouse with glimmering fur. He was tying a string around its neck. Fire knew somehow that the creature was not his pet.
He pulled the string, too tight. The mouse’s legs began to jerk. Stop it, Fire thought furiously, aiming her message at the strange presence that was his mind.
He loosened the string immediately. The mouse lay in his lap, heaving with tiny breaths. Then the boy smiled at Fire, and stood up, and came to stand before her. “It doesn’t hurt him,” he said. “It’s only a choking game, for fun.”
His very words grated against her ears; grated, it seemed, against her brain, so horribly, like raptor monsters screeching, that she had to resist the impulse to cover her ears. Yet when she recalled the timbre of his voice, the voice itself was neither unusual nor unpleasant.
She stared at him coolly, so he would not see her bewilderment. “A choking game? All the fun of it is on your side, and it’s a sick kind of fun.”
He smiled again. His lopsided, red-eyed smile was somehow distressing. “Is it sick? To want to be in control?”
“Of a helpless, frightened creature? Let it go.”
“The others believed me when I said it didn’t hurt him,” he said, “but you know not to. Plus, you’re awfully pretty. So I’ll give you what you want.”
He bent to the ground and opened his hand. The monster mouse fled, a streak of gold, disappearing into an opening in the roots of a tree.
“You have some interesting scars on your neck,” he said, straightening. “What cut you?”
“It’s none of your affair,” Fire said, shifting her headscarf as that it covered her scars, very much disliking his gaze.
“I’m glad I got to talk to you,” he said. “I’ve wanted to for some time. You’re even better than I hoped.” He turned around and left the courtyard.
The Graceling Realm Series:
FTC Advisory: I purchased my own copy of Fire. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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