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Review: Fire

my thoughts in a few sentences: Fire by Kristin Cashore has all of the telltale awesomeness of Cashore’s writing—scenic, descriptive, and downright vivid—but is so much more than Graceling. More action, more fondness for the characters, more striking appeal, more emotional connection in every component layered in the beautiful combination that makes up this book. In relation to Graceling’s Katsa, it felt as if I were peering through one-way glass, but in Fire by Kristin Cashore, the protagonist’s emotional devastation and personality full of fascinating, authentic contradictions makes her all the more relatable, loveable, and easy to connect with. The slowburn romance is just another reason to love Cashore’s second vibrant and intense novel.

hooking first line: "Larch often thought that if it had not been for his newborn son, he never would have survived his wife Mikra's death."

Dial/Penguin • Library • High Fantasy • 10/5/09 • $14.98

Fire by Kristin Cashore

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.

Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don’t need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven’t, you’ll be dying to read it next.

I obviously genuinely enjoyed Graceling by Kristin Cashore; I understood why everyone was so in love, even if that particularly intense emotion never paid me a visit while reading Cashore’s first novel. But the potential is like fire—haha—in that you can’t ignore something so violent and vivid, especially when it’s capable of destroying you. Cashore’s writing has that capability. Her stories feel like old tales bound in leather and passed by many hands. There’s something familiar and almost timeless; I can clearly picture sitting somewhere and listening to a very gifted storyteller regale me with accounts of multi-colored beasts and a heroine so beautiful it sometimes hurts—hurts herself and others. Fire by Kristin Cashore is not just about the fantastical, it’s also about self-acceptance and doing what’s right even when the whole world is ready to destroy someone so vulnerable, strong, and thoughtful.

Fire—as in the protag—has all this power at her disposal, and, like her dreaded father before her, is more than capable of letting loose and caring little, if not at all, for the consequences. She could be a selfish, cruel, and careless character with her gift, but she makes a decision in every moment to fight the ghost of what her father was, however satisfying it would be to just give up and let go, in spite of how she is treated even without intentionally causing harm. Everywhere she walks she is loathed, revered, envied, and adored so much so that beauty is an outright curse. How can she know all the love and affection she craves without it being an extension of the reactions to her face and body? It’s heartbreaking to see why she can keep close only so few in a circle and never reach out beyond that, for so many minds remain weak and tainted by something far out of her control. Her capacity to help and do good is stunning when so few have given her a reason against wreaking the havoc she could undoubtedly unleash on a whim.

Her sacrifices and harsh decisions, her scarred heart which matches her body, her past which constantly bleeds pain into her present, make Fire a truly beautiful and accessible character where Katsa is not. The characters already a part of her life and the ones she comes to know each realize this in their own way, and, in giving her a chance, they become things of beauty as well. Her eventual slow-simmering romance with a brooding, stoic, and unfriendly Prince Brigan feels like reward and relief, even as it brings along tension, confusion, and many misunderstandings. What starts out as a one-way loathing acquaintance—as Fire has irritation but no hate for the outstandingly brutal prince—unravels to something tender, friendly, and unavoidable. Fire and Brigan are so similar in so many ways even as certain aspects of their personalities veer away from the other. They balance and fit at the same time, and it’s cause to yearn for more moments between them in Fire by Kristin Cashore.

The plot is so inherently layered and overlaps in all the right places—threads dangling to be pulled only when Cashore feels the story is ready. The intensity, the action, the mysteriousness and the wondering all make this story so interesting and engrossing. War politics, courtly intrigue, and a few gorgeous handfuls of battles—WHICH I LIVE FOR—put all those aforementioned elements to use until we’re spinning in uncertainty with every suspicious character that surfaces and secret that’s discovered. Villains tangle and interchange, constantly shifting, so that the characters are cornered from all sides and are never quite safe, quite able to go unguarded. And all the hardwork clears the way for an exciting and satisfying closing.

Fire by Kristen Cashore is bitterness, despair, tentative sweetness, profound prose, richness, and full of invention. Each memory, hardship, and emotion are well-written gifts laid in every page. Although I’m unsurprised by the skill woven into the story, it’s brilliance as a story, I am a little astonished by the depth of feeling I have for this second novel.

Rating: Perfect Bed Partner
Be sure to check out the rest of the Graceling Realms series:

What's even cooler about this series is that they are all companion novels so you don't HAVE to read them in order!

Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy!


Sarah (saz101) said...

Asher! You crazy review-writing goddess, you! You've NAILED it. I love how you've described this--all of it. Especially the comparison to the emotional relatability and, accessibility, I think, of Fire, compared to Graceling, and Katsa. Fire is easy to like and easy to love, and I LOVED this book. I'm so glad you did! Your review was utter perfection, love!

Asher Knight said...


I really worked to capture everything this novel is because this is a book I WANT TO SELL to everyone, to make everyone want desperately to read. This book is beautiful. YAY. So happy to hear you loved this one too! *squeals* It's just a fabulously done fantasy.

Celine @ Forget-Me-Not said...

Oh dear goodness, I AM IN LOVE WITH YOUR REVIEW and as always, your VLOGS. SO I finished reading Bitterblue about 2 weeks ago & I LOVE IT. IT'S WORTH THE WAIT. But anyway...

Onto Fire. I love Fire but I LOVE Graceling more. Just because I found Katsa & Po more adorable and sweet compared to Fire and Brigan. Cashore's writing is simply put: brilliant. I still remember that feeling of reading her books and being transported far far away to the land of the Seven Kingdoms. I can't wait for you to read Bitterblue and read your review!


Stepping Out of the Page said...

What a fantastic review! I haven't yet started this series, even though I have the 3 books on my shelves, waiting for me! I really love your review though, and it's made me eager to pick them up! 

Thanks for sharing!
StephanieMy latest post: From the Review Pile (1)

Christy @TheReaderBee said...

I love Kristin Cashore! Graceling was such a fantastic read, and I've been dying to get started on Fire. So glad to see you enjoyed it so much! I'm really hoping to get to it soon. :)

Lisa! said...

Your vlog cracked my shiz up!  Too silly! I love silly, as you well know.

I loooooooved the suspense that Cashore packed into this one! Yeah, Fire is badass and things are happening but the suspense and mystery kept me FLYING through this one.

Asher Knight said...

 HEHE. THANK YOU, CELINE. I was totally in the mood to talk about Fire in that moment. It was so random, the urge just leaped on me. YOU FINISHED BITTERBLUE. And LOVED IT. Well, if that doesn't convince me I don't know what will! I so badly want to pre-order that bad boy, but I'm out of deniro.

I liked Fire way more. I think the connection was so much smoother and real, even though I'm not sure anyone's got anything on Po. It was close for a while, but I GOTTA ADMIT, nobody had lines like him. AND CASHORE'S WRITING. Geez, it's so vivid and stunning.

I WANNA READ BITTERBLUE SO BAAAD. Thank you my darling Celine <3333333

Asher Knight said...

YOU HAVE ALL THREE. You is so lucky, bro. LIKE, DO YOU EVEN REALIZE? I would totally kill to own Fire and BITTERBLUE right about now! Read them, read them, READ THEM.

I'm so glad I could help in that department. Everybody needs to try a Cashore book at least once.

Asher Knight said...

SHE CAN'T GO WRONG. I don't see how some don't enjoy her books. Her books are so solid, so wondrous. The world-building is as amazing, as alive as the characters. I LURVED THIS ONE. You should totally swat other books away and pick up this bad boy! I did ;D

Asher Knight said...

THAT'S a relief. I wouldn't want to be dull on screen, there. THAT WOULD BE EMBARRASSING, not being silly in a good way methinks. I cannot be held responsible for your reaction, though. The Silly is so inherent, I put no effort into it.

YEESSSSS. You understand me. It was so hard to guess  and the speculating is torturous. Between the courtly intriguing and the warring and the monster attacks I was like, :O