Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another Powerful Heroine, Courtesy of Kristin Cashore

by Kristin Cashore

Set in the same world as Graceling thirty-five years earlier, Fire recounts the tale of the last human monster in the Dells. Though able to both read and control the thoughts of others, Fire chooses not to intrude upon the minds of those around her, using her powers only as a last resort in matters of self-defense. However, when two noblemen begin to plot against the king, the crown asks her to use her powers to aid in interrogating spies, and she eventually agrees to do so.

Like Katsa, Fire is a wonderfully written female protagonist. She fears becoming manipulative, as her father was, relishing her power over others. She yearns for children, but promises herself she won't bring any other monsters into the world. Though considered a monster because of her abilities, Fire's hopes and fears demonstate how very human she is.

While the story is derivative in some aspects, Ms. Cashore's brilliant characters manage to invigorate the story. I will admit I found the book a bit tedious at the beginning when Fire and her long-time friend Archer were the only major characters, as Archer's treatment of Fire bothered me, but once the plot moved into King's City and introduced the royal family, I felt the pace picked up significantly. My only other major complaint is with the final chapter's abrupt segue away from the climatic battle to a memorial service some time later. I would have liked to have read more about the battle, rather than to simply be told of its outcome in a few paragraphs. So much of the book built up to that moment that it was a bit of a let down to have so little time devoted to it.

All told, Fire proves to be an entertaining diversion, but I feel it did not quite live up to my expectations after having read its predecessor.

Grade: B+

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