Fire

Fire is a Kristin Cashore’s sort-of prequel to her debut novel Graceling. I loved Graceling, and moreover I love the general conceit of Cashore’s fictional universe, a quasi-medieval realm where the tricky genre trope of “magic” has been boiled down into a peasant version of the X-Men: random people are born with “graces”, special abilities that set them apart and make them a valuable commodity in the political power struggles of various noble factions. However, where Graceling had an instantly compelling lead character and can’t-catch-your-breath pacing, Fire lagged with an uneven plot and actors who often elicited emotion in one another that I didn’t think they’d earned on the page. On the other hand I’ve heard from several female readers that they liked Fire even more than Graceling, so there’s always the chance my problems with it boil down to a boyish “not enough fighting!”

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