Release Date: October 1, 2008; October 5, 2009
Publisher: Harcourt Houghton Mifflin / Penguin Books
Pages: 471 pages; 461 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle ebook / Library; Hardcover
Series: Graceling Realm #1 & #2
Sum It Up (from Goodreads)
Graceling: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
Fire: 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.
Thoughts on Graceling & Fire
I was convinced that I was going to hate these books. Based on the cover alone, I'd already put it on my "no way" shelf. I think if you are already a fantasy lover, these covers probably aren't a turnoff. In fact, you might actually like them. But, if you're like me and a little bit afraid of the fantasy genre, these are not the most appealing covers.
However, I kept seeing review after review that raved about Graceling. People loved Katsa and Po, they loved Kristin Cashore's world... and who am I to question popular opinion? So, I decided to go against my "better judgment" and read Graceling. A few hours later, and I understood why everyone raved about the book.
There are just so many things to love about this book - a kick-ass heroine, world building that's developed and has real depth, a romance that builds slowly but packs a huge punch, fast-paced action, political intrigue and characters that come alive.
There's adventure, humor, romance... I can't even begin to tell you how invested I was in this book! If I had one complaint, it's that a few of Katsa's opinions felt a little heavy-handed. I have no problem reading about a character who doesn't like the idea of marriage or children, but there a few times that the opinions didn't seem genuine. I don't really know how to explain it - it just felt a little off a few times.
I know I'm not really saying much about the plot, but it's only because there is so much that's already been said about Graceling. I'm just here to tell you that I was really skeptical, but I fell hard for this book.
I immediately picked up Fire from the library because I just had to know what happened next. I was really surprised to find that it's more of a companion novel - I expected a traditional series where the second book published follows the first. On one hand, I was a little disappointed because I was dying for more Katsa & Po. But, at the same time, I appreciated the next characters and the way Cashore showed her readers a different side of the world she created in the first book.
This is essentially a prequel to Graceling. While there were some things I enjoyed about this book, I found it kind of frustrating. The pacing wasn't nearly as gripping as it was in Graceling - I easily set the book down and came back later.
More than anything, I didn't really connect with Fire, the main character. She just seemed like a more whiny and less likable version of Katsa. The characters and story as a whole just felt like a shadow of the awesomeness that was Graceling. Don't get me wrong - there were moments of awesome and I could see some more in there.
It was still a good book - it just didn't live up to my expectations. I'm going to re-read this soon, without reading Graceling first, to see if I appreciate it more without the comparisons to Graceling just floating around in my head.
“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”
“Are you determined to leave me in this world to live without my heart?”