Release Date: 10th June 2010
Edition: UK paperback, purchased
Other Titles in this Series: Graceling, Bitterblue
Her beauty is a weapon – and Fire is going to use it.
Fire’s exceptional beauty gives her influence and power. People who are susceptible to it will do anything for her attention, and her affection.
But beauty is only skin deep, and beneath it Fire has a human appreciation of right and wrong. Aware of her ability to influence others, and afraid of it she lives in a corner of the world away from people – not only to protect them but also to protect herself from their attention, their distrust, and even their hatred.
Yet Fire is not the only danger to the Dells. If she wants to protect her home, if she wants a chance to undo the wrongs of the past, she must face her fears, her abilities, and a royal court full of powerful people with a reason to distrust her.
Fire is a powerful tale of intrigue, death-defying adventure, monsters and unexpected love.
With how much I loved Graceling I wondered if I could ever feel the same way about Fire, but man can Kristin Cashore write!
I really didn’t expect Fire to take place anywhere other than the Seven Kingdoms so I was taken aback to enter a world hidden over the mountains from Monsea. In the Dells, the land is ruled by brightly coloured beasts attack constantly and people born with hair to match, hunger for the flesh of the beasts. They are feared and trafficked by all. With exceptional beauty and the power of mind control, they are dangerous and intimidating. Fire is a red-haired monster that rebels against her nature.
The theme of fighting against what is expected of you and the determination to not be what you are believed to be is becoming something that runs through this trilogy. It’s fascinating to me that both Katsa and Fire fight so hard against their powers and the extreme lengths they go through to do it. Their strength of character and will, their determination and sheer power is wonderful and sadly rare at that level in novels.
This led effortlessly in to the same sort of feminism as there was in Graceling. Like Katsa, Fire is intensely powerful, cut off from normality because of her gift against marriage, but Kristin Cashore demonstrated that you don't have to have no level of femininity or maternal instinct to be one. Fire struggles with wanting children but refusing to inflict her life on them made my heart ache and the way that she dealt with her conflicting feelings almost made me cry. More than anything though, it made her stronger and more powerful in my eyes; wanting a child didn't weaken or lessen her impact as a feminist character. This trilogy alone could change ideas about feminism for so many people, and that’s only one reason why Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue should be read by everybody.
I loved the way Fire’s gift highlighted the burden of beauty to a woman. Though amplified, the reaction of men to Fire’s beauty was so true to life (not that I’d know from personal experience...) and when put in this situation seemed so unfair and ridiculous. Even a glance of Fire made men fall at her feet and declare their love, turn cruel and want to destroy, and often rape, her or try to kill her out of fear. All for something that was not in any way Fire’s fault or in her control.
Aside from the fantastic characterisation and setting, Fire made an unexpected and brilliant connection to Graceling that I thought was brilliant. The prologue shows the beginning of King Leck’s horrific control and manipulation of the people around him that eventually culminated in the events of Graceling. I was a little confused as to what it was doing in the beginning of Fire, but as the novel developed, I realised what was going on and I can honestly say that it’s one of the cleverest links in a separate narrator sequel I’ve read in a very long time. I love the way that it played out.
I adored Fire and this trilogy is fast becoming one of my favourite ever trilogies. I plan to get my hands on Bitterblue the second the paperback in released.