Maya's Reviews > Fire

Fire by Kristin Cashore
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's review
Mar 11, 2012

liked it
Recommended for: those who want to read a "feminine" political fantasy
Read from March 09 to 11, 2012

Where Graceling was a suspenseful, dangerous chase over snowy mountains, Fire is a calm promenade through the countryside, with assassins lurking behind the trees, but staying well hidden for most of the time.

For me, this wasn't a bad thing, even though I can see why it would be boring for some readers. In Graceling there was a constant sense of pressure of time, the need to act quickly, the story moves at a rapid pace and never stops to let you take a breath.

Fire starts out much more as a “slice of life” kind of story. Rather than an adventure across half the continent, this is about the characters, in particular the main character Fire, coming to terms with herself, her powers and her father’s legacy. Her character development is the major focus of the novel. In general a big part of the story is occupied by emotions, human relationships, between friends and lovers, brothers and sisters, children and parents, young and old, i.e. the characters' interactions.

Also, this is about politics. Fire is actually a “political fantasy” novel. The author takes her time to develop the setting, the world, which in consequence is a lot more complex than what we have seen of the Seven Kingdoms in Graceling, and the different characters involved in the power struggles.

This focus on politics and character development / interactions in a rather calm environment will not appeal to everybody. Of course, lurking in the background there is always the thread of an upcoming war and the question of the trespassers, but these things don't take the center stage very often, and when they do, they disappear again rather quickly. Main character Fire is rarely at the battlefront and often in the hospital, so instead of the epic battles, that take place "off-screen", the focus is on the victims of war.

Personally, I was never bored while reading, because I enjoyed the writing, the subtle sense of humor and the character interactions with well-written dialogues, that manage to make even secondary characters endearing, even if you personally might not agree with their attitudes. I wasn't always happy with Fire's behavior f.ex. She can be quite a brat (and other characters tell her so) and makes some big mistakes. But this didn't hurt my overall impression of the novel. Everybody makes mistakes, and Kristin Cashore is not afraid to create smart and complex characters with good and bad sides to them. She doesn't work with "black or white", or as she calls it "a day-and-night way of thinking".

Of course there is also a love story, but it is much more subtle and not as dramatic as is usually the case in the genre of "romantic fantasy", so if you liked Graceling mostly because of the romance, Fire might not appeal to you that much.

Fire is a book for people who enjoy Slice of Life, dialogues and political intrigues. It is a rather different kind of book than Graceling, not necessarily in a bad way, but that depends on your tastes. I suppose it is better to go into this expecting, rather than "Graceling 2", a kind of "Game of Thrones for girls".
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