Amanda6′s #CBR4 Review 26: Fire by Kristin Cashore
As in all of my recent reviews, and especially the ones that people have already reviewed a few times for Cannonball, I’m going to Amazon for the 10-second plot summary before I go on to talk about other themes:”It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her. ”
I’ve seen Fire alternatively described as either a prequel or a “companion” to Graceling. Indeed, they are two separate stories in the same universe, but Fire does actually spoil Graceling a bit. Basically, reading Graceling first is recommended, not because either story is required for the other to make sense, but because a fairly pivotal reveal in Graceling is given away in the prologue of Fire with little fanfare. In any case, I surely enjoyed Cashore’s second foray into the fantasy universe she constructed for Graceling, and as with that novel, much of Fire‘s strength comes from its wonderful characters. I love that Cashore is seemingly relishing the opportunity to write as many different “strong women” as possible, while demonstrating that there isn’t some kind of mold that these women need to fit into in order to be considered “strong.” Within Fire alone, we meet Fire herself, Princess and Clara, members of Fire’s guard Musa and Mila, and more. All of these women are admirable, intelligent, capable human beings who are also obviously different, personality-wise, from one another.
I also love that Cashore does not shy away from some “political” issues. She candidly discusses birth control and abortion (without using those words, but there are explicit descriptions of herbs that can do these things,) and sex is treated as — shockingly! — a pretty normal course of action for relationships. Amusingly, on Amazon, this is always brought up in reviews as a “parents beware!” kind of thing. I understand to an extent; if there are really younger kids reading this, it may be a bit inappropriate, but as a slightly older “young adult,” I can only think it is a good thing that there is good literature out there that is encouraging these kinds of discussions and not pretending that sex doesn’t exist.
I only have one complaint about this novel, and it does involve the SPOILER FOR GRACELING. Basically, I kind of thought that the whole subplot with Leck was kind of unnecessary. It may be that Cashore’s intent was to weave this character into Fire in order to make the Graceling connection more obvious, but all things considered, his involvement added up to very little that couldn’t have happened in the context of the war that was already going on. For me, this subplot broke up the pacing of the rest of the book and was an unnecessary distraction from the more compelling story in the main plot.
Overall, I obviously liked this (I definitely wrote enough about it.) I’m going to stop reviewing so that I can tear into the final book in the series!