Rating: 3 out of 5
Age Group: Teenager
File Size: 629 KB
Print Length: 356 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0575085126
Publisher: Gollancz (September 24, 2009)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group
Book two of the Graceling Realm series is actually a Prequel, set about twenty years prior to the events in Graceling.
Fire is the last of her kind, a human monster, and now war is coming to the Dells a battle has began to harness her extraordinary power to seize control of the Kingdom.
I didn't like Fire as much as Katsa, she was a bit whiney, a bit sooky and a smidgeon annoying. Ok granted she seems to get a menstral cycle from hell which may explain some of this but mostly she just didn't make me really like her. As a heroine she was ok, she didn't really do anything despite her powers. There were maybe three stand out moments for her in this book and I wish the story had focused a little more on those traits about her ( I will not say more as it may give the book away).
The romances she had also felt forced and unbelievable. I dunno maybe I am not a love at first sight kinda person and that is what the author seemed to want us to believe. The few characters I did really enjoy were hardly in the book at all which was a little frustrating as it meant the ones left behind (bar Clara and her guard) were at times just as annoying as Fire.
Another frustrating thing was the authors obvious views on marriage and children, and not the views as such but the fact you were never allowed to forget about it EVER. Fire, like Katsa before her (or after or rather in the previous book) also harped on heavily about NEVER getting married and NEVER having children. Which is fine I do not have a problem with that but I also did not need to be hit over the head with this fact over and over.
I guess what really bugged me is that the only strongly portrayed women characters had the "I don't need a man" attitude and I just can't understand why being married or having kids means you are a weaker person. Perhaps this was not what the author intended to portray in her characters, but it is what came across to me and it bugged me. I am all for women power and being independent but sometimes it came across a little condescending.
One last thing about the "women power" theme, I felt the message was muddied by Fire's character constantly showing a strong maternal instinct and kept saying (by thoughts) how much she wanted children, she even pined over it. Her excuses for not having children seemed very weak to me. So for her to then say she doesn't want kids and then do what she does in the book surprised me a little. All I can say is I was not "sold" on her convictions.
The action from the first book is missing here. There are a few scenes but I felt the main focus of this book was more political intrigue and drama. Life in a Royal court. Also Fire is not a fighter (in the physical sense) that Katsa was.
So you are probably thinking I hated this book. Well I didn't. I dunno something kept me reading the book. I think it was the characters I did like, I was invested in them and wanted to know what happened. I really enjoyed the twins and wish we had learned more about them. Also towards the end of the book (maybe last 3rd of the book) I felt Fire finally became truly likeable and interesting. Her views, actions and personality finally gelled.
Overall this book for me was average. It was an interesting add on to the Graceling world which I hope gets tied back into the series later on and not just used to tell the back story of one character from Graceling. The lands and people that inhabit Fire's world were interesting and different to Katsa's world and it would be a shame if the only reason we got to glimpse them so that the story of a character in Graceling who while pivotal was rather a minor character and a bit of a bastard could be told.
I will be interested to see how the story of Bitterblue, which is the focus of the third book, will go.