Friday, 21 October 2011

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously coloured - fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green - and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.
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Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
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I loved Graceling and I'm so thrilled that Fire was even better!
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Fire is the only remaining half-human, half-monster left in the Dells. Her immense beauty and mind powers are what set her apart in a world where the people are suspicious and terrified of her but can't help being drawn to her. But unlike the monsters in this dangerous world, Fire is adamant that her powers will not be used for harm or deceitfulness in the same way her father used them.
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I loved that we are still linked to the world of Graceling in Fire, with the Dells in the same world as the Seven Kingdoms. The people of The Seven Kingdoms are completely unaware that there is another Kingdom not that far away that is full of deadly monsters in the same way the Dells are unaware that there is a place where there are people with different coloured eyes that possess extraordinary powers and are known as Gracelings. Both are deadly and fraught with dangers and risks but at the heart is the same drive for freedom and independence that our heroines strive for.
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Fire is an extraordinary character. She only uses her powers for her own survival. She evokes this sense of respect and admiration for her. All she wants is a simple life; learning and playing music and hunting with her best friend Archer but she has to constantly be on the alert and keep her dazzling hair under wraps for fear she will be recognized and attacked by other monsters or even obsessed and jealous people. She never acts like she is more deserving or better than anyone else and realises that the emotions and feelings of everybody else are as valid as her own. So not only is she starkly powerful, she is also a very human heroine.
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Another character that I loved was Brigan. He has this roguish charm about him that makes him instantly attractive. He is brave and courageous in the face of an impending war in The Seven Kingdoms and has the same values as Fire. The romance between Fire and Brigan is touching and passionate without being over the top and all absorbing. At first Brigan judges Fire before he has a chance to get to know her because of his previous encounters with her father, Cansrel, and he has a preconceived stereotype of all monsters and as a result is unwilling to show Fire any kindness at first. However, he slowly allows his guard and mental wall to crumble when he understands that Fire isn't like her father and doesn't want to harm anyone.
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What amazed me though was how Kristin Cashore made Archer a likable character. He thinks way too much of himself and he's also a complete rake and yet he has this vulnerability about him that makes you want to comfort him, especially when he realises that he will never get the one and only thing he truly cares about. Cashore's ability to create utterly believable and likable characters is astounding. You really care what happens to them. She is also able to create totally evil characters. This comes in the form of the disturbing and malicious Leck who we were introduced to in Graceling. This time you find out about his early years and he once again plays an integral part in the story.
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I couldn't recommend Fire highly enough. With an intricate plot, fantastic world building with a complex political structure and history, and beautiful and vivid descriptions it makes for a very addictive and satisfying read. I can't wait for the next companion novel called Bitterblue!
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Random Passage: "There is nothing unnatural in this world," he said. "An unnatural thing is a thing that could never happen in nature. I happened. I am natural and the things I want are natural. The power of your mind, and your beauty, even when you've been drugged in the bottom of a boat for two weeks, covered in grime with your face purple and green - your unnatural beauty is natural. Nature is horrifying."

5 comments:

Laura (All of Everything) said...

This sounds like an awesome book! Only problem: I haven't read Graceling. I remember starting it years ago and not being able to get into it but I definitely want to try again. Thanks for the review!

The Library Owl said...

You're welcome! You should definitely give Graceling another try :) The heroines in Graceling and Fire both have the same values and beliefs but are very different characters. So if you still can't get into Graceling you might prefer Fire.

Alison Can Read said...

This does sound fabulous. I read Graceling about three years ago and don't remember it all that clearly. Should I re-read Graceling before giving this a try or is it enough of a stand-alone that I won't feel lost?

The Library Owl said...

@Alison - Not at all. I hadn't read Graceling for a while either but once I got stuck into Fire it all came back to me. There are a few parts that are linked, like the appearance of Leck, but it's not essential you re-read Graceling before Fire. I think it's a great novel in it own right :)

I have a feeling that the two world will come together even more closely in Bitterblue. I hope so!

Clover said...

I've had this book on my shelf unread for absolutely AGES! It's nice to see a glowing review of it as it makes me remember my excitement to read this book.