I can't quite give Fire
four stars because I was slower to become involved in this story, part of that was because I was expecting something more obviously linked to Katsa and Po's story and partly because the prologue changed those expectations again - though I appreciated it later as it tied into Fire's story and how it fit with Graceling.
However I was quickly drawn into Fire's story, again some intriguing and original concepts and Fire
tackles a lot of non standard themes for a YA novel.
It's a shame that the trilogy has been labeled as such I think because much of the review negativity seems to stem from the opinions that some of the content is not appropriate for a YA audience.
The characters are complex, Fire grapples with the power of her feminity and the power of her ability in a world that for her is dominated by men. Her conflicted feelings about her father were well handled, as were her feelings for Archer.
Again, Cashore successfully created a male counterpart who is as well developed as the female. Brigan is himself conflicted by the expectations for males in his world - he does not seek more power for power's sake and while he does his duty well, he finds little joy in being the victor. He, like Fire, struggles with his father's legacy.
The relationship between Fire and Brigan is built very subtley. What I did like was that both characters has to come to some sort of self acceptance before they could come together, instead of the more traditional "relationship makes everything better."
Leck, who appears only sporadically, is truly creepy, but I do think that it is the inclusion of his story that means Fire
is truly a companion novel to Graceling
because it's inclusion makes little sense without knowing where it came from.
Still, while Fire
didn't quite live up to the spectacular debut of Graceling
it is wonderfully original and an enjoyable read.