Fire by Kristin Cashore

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 1:30 PM

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Ever have a book that you struggled to stop reading, because the decreasing width of pages on one side sent you into the panicked awareness that the story was going to end?

Fire was that book for me. I love Cashore's writing so much; I still haven't figured out how she manages to wrap such a rich world around her reader in very simple, elegant prose, but I fall under her spell every time I pick up her books. At least I was prepared this time, and took advantage of a snowy evening and a nice roaring fire to start savoring Fire -- I managed to stretch it out for half a week, with breaks for Real Life and necessary winter chores (like gathering more firewood).

I had read Graceling when it came out in hardcover, and I remember a similar experience of begrudging college classes and assignments for their piddling claims on my attention. Fire doesn't cover the same main characters and it's set in a different time and place, but there are some connecting threads that naturally tie the two novels together. Thematically, they are similar in that both feature strong female characters who possess frightening abilities -- in Graceling, Katsa is Graced with the ability to kill (pretty much anything, with or without weapons), and has been forced into service as the King's appointed thug. She rebels against being made into a royal murderer, even as she wonders if that is her true nature; is she doomed to be a walking weapon, a danger to all around her?

In Fire, the main character lives in a kingdom full of monsters -- creatures made unnatural by their stunning beauty and abilities -- and she herself is a hybrid, born of a human mother and a monster father. Fire is endowed with captivating beauty and the ability to manipulate others' minds, both traits inherited from her breathtakingly cruel and compelling father, Lord Cansrel.

Advisor to the King, Lord Cansrel urges his daughter to revel in her powers as he abuses his own; but when the royal household collapses in debauchery and ruin, the entire kingdom spirals towards civil war as rival lords begin making claims. From her homestead in the far north, Fire had assumed that she was irrelevant to these wider events, but she finds herself drawn into the war of the Dells along with her childhood friend, Archer. She not only has to decide her place in the coming battle, but also confront what using her powers will mean to herself and those she loves.

Cashore's characters are sheer works of art by themselves. I loved Katsa for her fierceness and her fears; Fire captured my heart in a different way, painfully alienated by the illusions of her appearance and damaged by her father's twisted love, yet somehow still struggling to protect and connect to others when it would be so simple and easy to shut herself away. No one is allowed to be simply a stock character in Cashore's world; they are all complex, sometimes infuriating, and sometimes awe-inspiring.

Really, a rough synopsis can't do this justice, so I'll have to ask you to trust me and read this book. It's far too nuanced and beautiful to slap labels on it, and trying to sum it up will miss the entire experience of reading it - the sheer delight of falling completely into Cashore's fascinating world.

And while you're at it, pick up Graceling as well, if you haven't read it yet. You can thank me later.

Comments (0)

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails