Saturday, 8 February 2014

Review: Fire

Fire (Graceling Realm #2) by Kristin Cashore
Title: Fire
Series: Graceling Realm, #2
Author: Kristin Cashore
Published: Gollancz; 2011
384 pages, paperback
Source: Borrowed from the library
 Description (from Goodreads):

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 for 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 reason to distrust her.

Fire is a powerful tale of intrigue, death-defying adventure, monsters and unexpected love.

My Thoughts:
 This review may contain some minor spoilers for Graceling .

Fantasy is a genre that I particularly enjoy but there is a certain beauty to high or epic fantasy that I find much more compelling. Whether its the realms with their kings and queens and political intrigue or the historical eras with the long horse-ridden journeys or even the magical qualities that the land or people are blessed with - powers and abilities and unusual qualities.
Kristin Cashore has mastered the rare skill of perfecting a incredible world coupled with beautiful characters in one of the best high fantasy I had read this year - topped only by the previous book in the series, Graceling.

Fire is a monster. Intoxicatingly and perfectly beautiful. Ordinary people are struck dumb on their first appearance, rendered speechless, incapable, and more often than not, unwillingly in love with her. Most people – mainly jealous women and embarrassed men – despise her for this unnatural beauty, including Fire herself. For coupled with her mind-reading and mind-control powers, Fire is a freak of nature and at war with herself with many moral dilemmas to dwell over in regards to the usage of these powers. In
Fire, we see her struggle with her “gifts” and debate their appropriate use – is using her powers for seemingly “good” reasons, okay? Or is it still wrong?

I read this with a bunch of my fellow Goodreads friends and most of them found
Fire to be tediously slow paced and a tad uneventful. Unfortunately, even though I quite enjoyed this book, I must agree with the latter.

What I loved most about the second instalment in the Graceling Realm series, was the characters. Katsa and Po in
Graceling were the most beautiful characters. I admired their strength, bravery, courage, and though I can see how some readers may be iffy towards Katsa’s attitude towards marriage and feminism, I manage to disregard that. Fire is not Katsa by any shape or form so if that is the only reason you plan on reading Fire I would not bother. Katsa was kickasss, strong and a fighter. Fire is more relatable, she’s real, strong in a different way but she cries, breaks down and complains about the unjustness of her life. This doesn’t make her unbearable though, in fact it made her more of a relatable, beautiful, real character and I loved her for it.

The rest of the characters all had an important part to contribute to the plot and were really just lovely and beautiful and I cannot seem to find the words to describe them. Archer. Brigan. Nash. Hanna. Roen. Clara. Garan. Brocker. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect!

What made this book so incredibly readable was the romantic subplot. I have to say this is actually the best developed romance I have ever read. Yes, ever. I am not exaggerating I swear. While it was a little bit predicable who was going to fall for whom (I leave out names for future readers though), it was planned out slowly. It unfolded from a cold sort of disinterest to a friendship where it bloomed beautifully into a little more into a little more until… I leave you to find out! But seriously, the development over the course of the book is done with such a gradual and natural grace that it is one of my – hand down! – favourite romances, ever.

Overall, while
Fire lacks an eventful and captivating plotline in general, this book will take you on an emotional rollercoaster so intense that you will never forget it. I know I won’t. It was beautiful. I can see the problems for my buddy reading friends but I must say I disagree.

Note: this book is a prequel to
Graceling. It is based roughly in the same realm and contains a few cross-over characters but is mostly a separate novel. It may be read as a standalone though I would recommend reading Graceling first and not just because I loved it but it may give some extra information that would be beneficial when reading Fire.


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