Reading Level:: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: October 6th 2009 by Dial
In the Dells there live monsters of breathtaking beauty. With scales and fur of every hue, the country side at times is itself a rainbow. The monsters are lovely, and their magnificence lulls you, drawing you in, entranced by the visions before you, making you long to possess or touch them.
And then they kill you.
The monsters of the Dells are creatures to fear for even the most harmless ones are still monsters. And there aren't only monster animals, with their flashing beaks and talons itching for blood. There are human monsters too, of unsurpassed resplendence who are so beautiful it hurts to look at them and who's beauty, just as with other monsters, can draw you in to your death.
Fire is a human monster with the power to alter the minds and thoughts of humans and monsters alike. In a kingdom riddled with unrest, on the brink of war, a monster with the ability to detect a liar, redirect an assassin or even, more importantly, influence a king could be a great asset or she could be a greater danger to the kingdom then it's sworn enemies ever could.
Even Fire, with all her beauty and power has enemies. Men and women seek to control her, or possess her, both out of love and loathing and she has learned to steel her mind and body against them- but there are things that not even Fire can protect herself from.
The Dells know nothing of the seven kingdoms beyond the mountains and they are unaware of the existence of the Graced. They would never think twice about a young boy with one eye gray and the other red, even if they watched him engage in acts of cruelty or control. They would believe him kind, and good- if he told them to.
I type this book-drunk. My head is spinning and I'm not quite sure how I got here and the last thing I can remember is being on a horse, riding towards an enemy army and then the rest is a blur. How it comes to pass that I am sitting on a couch in the safety of my own home I guess I'll never figure out because as far as I know, I haven't been here and I don't even live here anymore.
Cashore writes of Gracelings and monsters- creatures with powers we could never comprehend existing in our mundane lives. She writes fantasy fiction, straight forward and true to form but where she differs, and far excels others in her genre is in her uncanny ability to completely remove her reader from reality- mind, body and soul and plant them quite fixedly in the world of her creation where she doesn't even have to compel them to stay because they truly don't want to leave. In her world, it is her characters who have the power, but I think Cashore's Grace far surpasses those of her heroes and heroines.
Fire is a superb creation. Imaginative, vivid and at times disturbing. She creates a past already severe on its own and then meticulously adds details to it that pull at all the threads of your heart. I feel so awful for what Fire has suffered and suffers but I never once pitied her, for she's far too strong for that. And oh the romance in this book! I've never wanted to see two people together more!
I'm enamoured of these books and their world. An instant favorite, just like it's predecessor. I -loved- this book and I feel lost outside of it. You can read this without having read Graceling but the impact of one particular character's involvement will be lost on you. He's there to scare you and he's much scarier if you already know who he is.
If you've read both books:
Has Cashore ever addressed the childlessness and aversion to marriage that drives her ladies in her books in relationship to her own life, in perhaps an interview? I'd be interested to read it if so. Her female leads are very strong willed people who possess none of the traits in female leads in a lot of fiction today. They never lose their heads over a guy, they never fall in love with the wrong one, they don't want to be loved in the traditional sense and even actively try to dissuade it. It's very, very refreshing. I accept most books at face value and concern myself only with the story but she's so adamant about her character's traits that I wonder how they connect to her own life. Thoughts?