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4.2 out of 5 stars133
4.2 out of 5 stars
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This is the author's second novel, following on from the entertaining Graceling. Set in the same 'world' as Graceling but in terms of timelines it is a prequel.
Fire is a 'monster' a kind of mutant from nature. There are creature mutants, i.e birds or animals that are brightly coloured, but Fire is that rarity, a human one. As such she has bewitching beauty and the power to influence minds and her abilities are so strong that contact with people can be dangerous for them and her.
When the Kingdom rises in conflict she must come into the open and is forced to pick a side and then must decide if she can (and should) use her powers to protect those she loves.
The author does characterisation well and has an interesting view on the use of power (as shown in Graceling too) and this is a well paced and thoughtful story. It took a little while to get going and for me to get my head around the concept of 'monsters' but then it speeds up along (perhaps) a familiar path to a conclusion that is perhaps unsurprising but nonetheless satisfying. I enjoyed it as a good solid fantasy novel but I think I would have preferred it to have been longer, there were elements that felt a little rushed or not sufficiently explored (the final scene with the Graceling and the business with the weird horse) but these are minor gripes in what was an entertaining fantasy novel.

Oh and well done to whoever chose the artwork for the cover of this and Graceling - lovely covers...
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on 23 May 2011
I don't think words can describe how much I loved this book. I was under the impression from other reviews that Fire wasn't supposed to be as good as Graceling but in my opinion it's better - much better! The romance, the action, the mystery and the heartbreak were so much more prominent.

Fire is set I think around 20 years before Graceling in a land called The Dells which is supposed to be beyond the Seven Kingdoms. They don't know of the Seven Kingdoms and the Seven Kingdoms don't know of them. They don't have Gracelings in The Dells but they do have monsters! Monsters come in the form of brightly coloured animals. The same as normal animals but brightly coloured. And there is also a monster human. The last living monster human - Fire. Monsters have the ability to see into others minds and are able to control them in some cases. Human monsters have always been feared by people because of this ability and also because of their unusual beauty and brightly coloured hair.

Fire's father sent her away as a girl to live away from the King's city where there were too many people who would want to hurt her and so she grew up on a farm on the outskirts of the kingdom. However, when war is threatening the King he decides he needs her power to use to find out useful information for the coming war and so she is summoned back to the King's city where it is so dangerous for her. There she meets the King, the King's brothers and sister and a whole host of other amazing characters, some whom love her and some very much intent on seeing her dead.

This book was filled with so much adventure and surprises. I loved every minute of it. I think the reason I loved it more than Graceling was becuase it was set around a much older theme. There were things that happen during the course of the story and things that had happened in the past that were explained in the story which were very adult in theme.

I was so sad when I finished reading becuase I so much enjoyed seeing Fire grow into her ability and to use it for the good of the Kingdom and also to see her growing relationship with the prince Brigan (who I loved so much!). If you enjoyed Graceling then this is a must read and I truly hope the author revisits these characters some time becuase I think could be so much more to tell!
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on 7 October 2009
This book is technically a prequel to Cashmore's first novel, Graceling, but it's set in a different land, with very different magic, and featuring only one character from the other book, so it is easily readable even if you haven't read Graceling (although if you're already planning to read both, don't read this one first).

I was surprised to see that the prologue to Fire is one of the creepiest I've ever read... but the creepiness didn't continue into the book proper, so don't let that put you off. The character Fire is both similar to, and different from, the main character in Graceling: like Katsa, Fire is initially strong and scared of her own power, and gradually grows to accept herself; but she's a bit less independent than Katsa, and she desperately wants children (but refuses to actually have any because she would pass on her powers to them). She doesn't have an easy life: both humans and animals are affected by her, and either hate her and try to harm her, or want her so much that they smother her. She's also affected by the memory of her father, who was a brutal man who abused his powers and caused chaos in the country - although he loved her and never mistreated her.

There's an inevitable romance that I saw coming from very early on; but it's handled excellently and the story is not focused upon the two of them. The plot is interesting and exciting, and the writing is every bit as competent as in Graceling. I found the novel so gripping that I don't think I put it down for more than a few minutes at a time until it was finished.
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on 27 March 2011
When I started this book I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. I haven't read Cashore's debut novel `Graceling' (although it is sitting on my bookshelf at home), so technically I guess I read these the wrong way around. However, I really don't think it mattered because from what I've heard they're more like stand-alone books than a series which follows on and has to be read in strictly the right order. I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it because this was in the science-fiction section of my local library and I'm not normally a SF fan. In addition, after a quick perusal of the blurb, I was still unconvinced that this was going to be my cup of tea. How wrong I was!!

The book charts the story of Fire, a beautiful human-monster living in the Dells, who attracts the lust of all those around her and who is particularly tempting to other monsters. She has spent her whole life trying to protect the people around her and stay out of sight. However, when war threatens, she decides that she has to use whatever power and control she has for good, so sets out on a dangerous journey to the Kings City. One of the things I admire most about this book is the incredible world that Cashore has invented. What an imagination she has! Places and people are created vividly and seem so real at times that you forget it's all made-up. There are some wonderfully descriptive passages throughout and the language itself is rich and magical, weaving a complex tale which never fails to surprise.

To begin with, I wasn't sure about the opening prequel section of the book and I couldn't really see how it was going to fit into the story. However, I think that may be due to me not having read `Graceling' yet, and by the time I got about two-thirds in, everything did fit together. Cashore takes her time building up the layers of the story and the characters, presenting a number of ethical situations for her main protagonist, which really involve the reader and get them thinking. The climax of the book was tremendous with several twists thrown in for good measure and I enjoyed seeing how it all unravelled.

For those who like a spot of romance, you won't be disappointed and I have to just say how much I adored the relationship between Fire and her horse Small. When you read the book you'll see what I mean!

I would definitely recommend picking this book up and giving it a try, even if it doesn't initially look like your normal book fare. Some of my favourite books are the ones that I normally would never ever have even contemplated reading and it's always a lovely surprise to find out how much you enjoy them after all.
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VINE VOICEon 12 July 2011
I loved 'Fire' in a way I haven't loved a book for a long time. Graceling left me feeling rather ambivalent - not only because I couldn't quite come to terms with the Teletubbies character (I know, it's a name with a noble past - but have *you* had to watch Teletubbies for years because of a kid in the house?). But whatever it was that Graceling was missing, Fire had it.

Some reviews complain that it lacks plot, but I think Fire is deliberately character-driven, and better for it. Along with that, it is atmospherically slow; the prologue, which I read months before I actually got around to reading the book, left me with chills.

This book is the reason I will pick up anything Cashore writes. Graceling was a forgivable first book (+ gorgeous cover), but I live to read books like Fire.
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on 11 November 2012
I definitely enjoyed this, just not quiiiiite as much as Graceling. The romance wasn't as prevalent or as sweet and I needs me some sweet romance! I'm getting slightly disenchanted, actually, with the way these books end. They don't end with hearts and flowers and riding off into the sunset happily married with 2.4 kids. (How do you get 0.4 of a kid anyway?) I didn't comment on it at the end of Graceling because, stupid me hadn't realised at that point that books two and three wouldn't be following Po and Katsa. Which, now that I think about it, really sucks because of how up in the air everything was left with those two...

Anyhoodle. It's Ms. Cashore's world and she can write the books however she sees fit, I guess. And if she doesn't want the romance to be front and centre, then I'll have to just deal with it or move along the bus.

Whatever they may lack in romance, however, is always more than made up for in imagination and creativity. I loved the concept of the Gracelings in book one, and in this one she gives us more new creatures/species to explore, in the form of Monsters.

(noun) A creature of varied species, including (rarely) human, with unusually bright, colourful attributes, overwhelming beauty, and the ability to alter and/or warp the minds of others.

That's the interpretation in this world anyway. They can be anything from a horse to a fox, in vivid, vibrant colours so different from their natural counterparts, and are able to get into people's minds, either to communicate, or to bamboozle.

Our heroine is a Monster. She's called Fire due to her flame-red hair. She's seen as especially dangerous because human men are pretty easy to manipulate by even normal beautiful women (not my words), but the unnatural advantages Fire has make her a source of contempt, fear and distrust for both men and women alike.

This story sees Fire invited to a neighbouring kingdom to help evaluate their potential rivals in a war that's brewing in the Seven Kingdoms. While there, she meets Prince Brigan and his brother, King Nash, and finds friends in the most unlikely of places. It's set prior to Graceling and even features a much younger Lec.

This was another great audio production, but sadly wasn't Full Cast this time as Graceling was. However, the reader had a great voice and it was still a really good listen.

I'm looking forward to Bitterblue to see if maybe that gives me an update on Po and Katsa. I really hope so!

3.Stars ★★★
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on 29 August 2012
This book wasn't what I expected. Having read the Graceling, previous to this second novel, and read the reviews in advance of reading this book, I had built up a picture of what to expect.

This was a very different story from that of the previous novel in this trilogy.
That isn't a criticism, however I did find it took me longer to get into this novel than the first one. I struggled with the use of the word 'monsters' and never felt comfortable with it, as it always seemed to polar to the concept of Fire being such a irresistible force of beauty.

I kept expecting the heroine to jump into action and be more like Katsa from the Graceling, but she wasn't as physical a character as she was more cerebal, which ultimately made her interesting and more difficult to second guess.
I saw her impending romance coming, but I actually liked the hero more than I liked Po, and found him more interesting. I really enjoyed the interplay between him and the heroine and felt as disappointed as Fire to see him disappear off again and again.
I also got a bit lost in the descriptions towards the end of who was fighting who, where, and didn't really care.
However, I really enjoyed getting to know the central characters and found myself intrigued by a lot of their responses to Fire and would have liked to have read more scenes involving the Dell siblings.
I have to agree with previous reviews, while I understood the need for mentioning Fire's bleedings initially, it did start to grate after the second time it was brought to the attention of the reader.

All over a surprising book and very enjoyable one, and at times very moving. I really felt for Fire's loss at the end. I thought the author handled the depth of feeling very well indeed, and really conveyed a very strong sense of bereavement.
A stand alone novel, but also a good companion to the first of the seven kingdoms trilogy. I will definitely be reading Bitterblue.
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on 26 July 2012
For the first time I'm having a slight difficultly in writing this review. Why? Because I indeed liked this book a lot but there were some things that could have been improved. I want to review this book right and tell you about all the good things about this book but still I want to make my opinion known. And that's the problem, the things I wasn't so keen about in this book is all about my personal taste in books. So please don't let me put you off this wonderful book.

Fire is book 2 in The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy. It's meant to be a companion/prequel to Graceling which I understand but only one character from that book was in this story which was confusing. Anyway Fire is a book that can easily stand alone. Despite being in the same world as Graceling it is set the other side of the mountains in the Dells, where things are so different to the Seven Kingdoms. Fire really does come into it's own. There are, (even if it is very few) links to Graceling but this does not overshadow Fire's story. The whole thing separates itself and is pretty much it's own world. Fire could be a standalone novel and no one would even think about the link to Graceling, It is very well done.

I feel like I'm already rambling, so onto the story. Fire, believe it or not follows a human monster called Fire whose beauty can make anyone her slave. Everyone who sees her feels the attraction and the need to do anything for her and in a world where there are struggles for power, this isn't good as she can be used as a weapon. We join Fire as she is pulled into the political world of the kingdom where she must use her power to help if her home country is going to survive.

I liked Fire's character, she was very real and someone you could relate too. Fire was a respectable Heroine who was scared of how much power she held and because of this she didn't trust herself, especially because she understood what power could do to a person. That person being her own father, who craved power and started the Dells fall into Ruin. She was scared her past would effect her future but throughout the book we saw Fire start to open up to others and see that not everyone wants her power. Archer although he was an interesting character I couldn't get past the fact that he was Fires childhood friend who she took to bed regularly but didn't bat an eyelid when he slept with pretty much half the women in the castle. She said she loved him but then let his actions slide. I personally found him annoying, his anger and jealousy were so childish. I loved Brigan's character and he had a hard time throughout the book too, he had many secrets revealed to him, which must have hurt him more than we are told. His daughter Hanna was such a cutey, and I loved how Fire acted like a big sister or even mother to her.

I also really enjoyed the strong theme of love in this book. It showed us that no matter where you can find love in many forms. The theme of Family was incredible strong also. With the many complicated family lines, Cashore did a good job of weaving all of the relationships together. I especially loved the Royal family and how they took Fire in as one of their own, despite her being a monster.

Now I will try and explain the things I liked and those I didn't like about this book. First I thought all of the characters were incredibly well developed, each had their own flaw and throughout the book we learnt them all, even some of those from the secondary characters. The writing also flowed so much better in this book then in Graceling. It seems Cashore's writing had developed immensely and you can see the improvements.

The things I didn't like. Ok the overly done use and talk of Fires women problems. Yes I understood why it was mentioned to start with but we didn't need to know every time it happened. It didn't add anything to the plot so why did it keep getting included. No raptor monster flew down and killed or injured Fire at the time of her monthlies so why did we need to know every time? The next point is entirely from my own tastes and opinion therefore it may not effect you at all. I didn't enjoy Fire as much as it lacked the constant action we had in Graceling. I know Fire, isn't a Graceling

Nevertheless I liked this book and it shows how a writer can grow within the space of two books. The skills for a good book were all there but were slightly bogged down with unneeded details and slow pace. I have a proof of Bitterblue which I'm going to read next and hopefully all of the skills Cashore has will be pulled together in that.
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on 7 March 2012
Kristin Cashore's Graceling was one of the first YA novels I read back in 2010. I was very taken with it and when I came across Fire in London last year, I snapped it up. And then it sat in the humongous TBR-pile for a few months. But when I finally started Fire I raced through it in a day and a half. Needless to say, I really loved the book. While I knew Fire wasn't so much a sequel to Graceling, as a companion novel set in the same world, it did take me reading the blurb for Bitterblue - the third book in this sequence - to figure out that Fire is actually chronologically set before the events in Graceling by quite some years. This is probably due to reading the books so far apart, but I thought it worth mentioning just the same.

Despite being set in the same world as Graceling, Fire's surroundings are far different from that of Graceling. The world building is far different as where Graceling plays out across different countries; Fire is set in just the one, The Dells, with mention of a neighbouring country of Pikkia. These two countries are isolated from the territories featured in Graceling by huge mountain ranges and because of this contact with and knowledge of these countries are limited. This does explain the lack of knowledge about Graces and what they can do, but I was still a little puzzled that while they have human monsters, they don't seem to have Gracelings. In all this time there must have been some mixing of blood and DNA, so Graces can't be unheard of, can they? Or are Graces and Monstrosity (that's actually my term, not Cashore's) caused by something in the environment? These questions go unanswered, but probably are more a case of me thinking too much about it, than something that disrupts the narrative. The idea of the monsters, however, is fantastic. Monsters in Fire are creatures which are (literally) mesmerizingly beautiful and because of that often are mortally dangerous. And there are monster versions of everything, raptors, cheetahs, kittens, even humans. Our protagonist, Fire, is such a human monster and it's easy to see why her powers would be feared by 'normal' humans, especially given the history of her evil father. But Fire isn't her father and only uses her powers when she has to, which shows that humans at least can control the glamour they cast.

Fire's story is one of learning to trust yourself; Fire is terrified of becoming like her father and for that reason only uses her powers in self-defence, when she needs to, which unfortunately is more often than she'd wish, despite her living isolated on her country estate. I adored Fire and her journey during the novel. She does learn to trust herself and her intentions and she learns to use her powers in a balanced way, not just for self-defence, but always for the greater good. Of course there is a love triangle in the novel, which never really is a triangle, except in Archer's opinion. Archer is Fire's neighbour and close companion since childhood. They're best friends, but Archer wants more and sees Fire as his soul mate. Every time the subject came up, Archer changed from a decent bloke into a whiny, clutching idiot and I really didn't like the interactions between him and Fire on the subject. Fire's slow building romance with prince Brigan on the other hand, I loved. I kept rooting for them, especially as Brigan is such a fascinating character, very complex and broody. The villains of the piece were rather less impressive, with the exception of Leck. Leck completely creeped me out! What a nasty little piece of work and given what we know becomes of him, I was sad that nobody actually shot an arrow through his heart.

Fire was far more political in nature than Graceling and while there are big battles, most of the manoeuvring is of the sneaky kind and smaller in scale. The denouement of the plot was very cool and kept me on the edge of my seat. I had a great time with Fire, and for any fans of Ms Cashore this is a must-read book. If you're unfamiliar with Cashore's work, Fire is a nice way to get acquainted with it. It's one of the better YA books I've read and I can't wait for the final book Bitterblue, which is out from Gollancz this May.
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on 24 August 2011
Fire is a novel which compliments Cashore's first novel Graceling; it is not a sequel - in fact the events happen to precede the story of Graceling - but I imagine them to be two pieces of a jigsaw which slot neatly together.

Fire is a lady monster. She is the daughter of Cansrel who was the only human monster in The Dells. Her father embodied the very nature of a monster - he was violent, took perverse pleasure from inflicting pain, manipulated people and abused his power. The world in which Fire lives is full of monster creatures - carnivorous raptors, lions, bugs - they have an alarming power to lure their prey to their deaths so that they can devour them. The monsters are gloriously beautiful - brightly coloured with coats that glisten and glow. Fire is just like the creatures. Her beauty and her hair are so startling that men and women wish to possess and ravish her. But Fire is not helpless despite her extraordinary affect on both the creatures and humans. She has the power to control your mind - she could make you do anything you wish if you allow your mind to be an open shell. It takes great strength and control to keep your mind walled against such power.

Fire is not like her father though - she hates the cruel, unforgivable things he did. Cansrel used his power and his friendship with King Nax causing the kingdom to the very edge of ruin. But when Cansrel dies, there is hope for the peoples' future. Fire is determined not to use her power as a violation. She wants only to be a part of the world and not different from it. Her greatest wish is to be ordinary - she doesn't want her presence to inspire people to lustful anger, insatiable desire or utter devotion.

Again Cashore amazed me with her skill and depth of characterisation. Through Fire's character, she explores the question of what it is to be a true monster. I found at first the concept of these monster beings difficult to grasp. Why were they monsters, I wanted to know. How are such creatures more monstrous in their nature than others? I can't say that I entirely understood except that they had a vampirism about them. They desired the blood of humans from my own interpretation. But more than any other, they desired the blood of Fire. In a way why or how these monster creatures came to be is irrelevant - it is the fact that they are defined as "monsters" that is important to the story. We could exchange the world monster for "other" if we wanted to. They had the power to control the mind and lure you to your doom.

The plot of this story perhaps mirrors more closely that of a historical novel. The Dells is on the brink of war with Lords Gentian and Mydogg. The action rises towards a great battle that will see many lives lost. But Fire's own path through this story is set when she is in the forest and shot with an arrow. The poacher has a strange mist clouding his mind, the like of which Fire has never seen before. Lord Archer - Fire's lifelong friend - is concerned about her safety and so they set out from their rural home to discover under whose orders the mysterious poacher acted.

Fire is a complex fantasy novel with many themes weaving through the plot: love, belonging and human nature. Cashore certainly knows how to satisfy the reader - I found the ending to be entirely fulfilling. I will certainly be reading more from this author. Her books are a pleasure to read and recommend.

For readers 12+
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