Reading level: Young Adult
Size: 480 pages
Release Date: October 5, 2009
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Graceling Realm series
Source: Borrowed from Friend
Rating: 4/5 stars
I loved Graceling and was excited to read Fire. This was a good book, but it less action packed and has a less fiery heroine than Graceling . I enjoyed it but didn’t like it as much as Graceling. I missed the fighting and found some of the fantastical creatures hard to picture.
Fire lives in a world that is on the opposite side of the mountains from the world in Graceling . It is a world full of brightly colored monsters and plagued by unrest. Fire is half-monster and struggles against her monster nature and the way her blood draws monsters to her. Without meaning to she is drawn deep into the politics of the realm when two royal brothers want Fire to use her mind reading capabilities to aide the kingdom.
Fire is a much much different heroine than Katsa. That’s not a bad thing, but to be honest I didn’t like her as much. Fire spends a good portion of the book hiding. She hides from other people, from her monster nature, and from her own beliefs. This leaves her a lot of room to grow as the book continues, and she does grow. As you can imagine this leads to a much less action packed story. This book is a lot more about politics, court intrigue, and spying.
Fire’s struggle is about believing that she can be a good person despite her monster nature. She also has to learn where to draw the line in using her mind control powers; at first she won’t use them at all but then she begins to realize maybe they can be used for good. She also learns to start standing up for herself, where before she has let strong male figures mold her life.
This book is less romance driven than Graceling g. Fire ends up longing for a certain someone, but he is out of the story a lot traveling. So while there is a bit of romance in here it is subtle, sweet, and in the background. Just like Fire comes across as much more tame than Katsa, when she falls in love she does it in a quiet way…not in the fiery way Katsa does. As such while the romance was sweet, it wasn’t as engaging or as emotionally involving as it was between Katsa and Po.
There are a lot of great characters in this book; even the side characters are well filled out and interesting. I still enjoyed the characters in Graceling better, they just seems a bit more engaging.
The world is an interesting one, full of brightly colored monsters. The magic system is based more on monsters than anything else. That being said I had some trouble really picturing and imagining this world of brightly colored creatures. It seemed a bit less realized to me than the complex world we were presented with in Graceling .
The story is a complete one and fills in some of the background behind how Leck got where he was in Graceling.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I didn’t like Fire as much as Katsa, she just wasn’t….well fiery enough. The romance was much more understated and less engaging than in Graceling . I also had some trouble picturing this world and its brightly colored monsters. This is a book that focuses more on politics and less on the adventure/quest. All that being said this was an entertaining read with some wonderful characters and an interesting world. I recommend this to fantasy fans who enjoy intrigue and politics with a touch of romance.