Fire (Graceling Realm #2), by Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA Fantasy
Date Published: October 2009
Length: 461 pages
Source: Owned copy
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Synopsis: It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.
This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.
Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there's more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom. If only she weren't afraid of becoming the monster her father was.
★★★★★ and a ♥ (again!)
...for being a strong and empowering novel.
I loved this book more on the re-read, I think. I didn't like it so much the first time around, I remember, but I enjoy it more and more with each re-read.
This book was definitely different from Graceling. For one thing, it's really a prequel, not a sequel. For another thing, Fire is a completely different character from Katsa. The burden of her abilities seems even more like a curse than Katsa's, and the problem of her abilities needs to be approached very differently. Katsa has considerably more freedom to move about as she pleases, while Fire does not have that luxury. She needs guards constantly, and other people are unable to ignore her or leave her be. Despite her inability to be fully independent of anyone, one can still argue that she is a very strong, and very capable female character.
Seriously, for me, it's the female protagonists that make this series great. The writing style is very young adult (simple, not really all that outstanding), but the women in these stories are really fantastic characters who make their own decisions, and who can't be dominated or manipulated by anyone else. They are real role models for girls and women alike.
If you haven't read this trilogy yet and you like stories about independent women who make their own decisions, then this is something you should check out soon. Strongly recommended.