Fire was born beautiful and marvelous. Her fire red hair and exceptional beauty make her not only something to be admired but also a target. She is a monster by nature born to a monster father who almost single-handedly destroyed the kingdom of the Dells, and that kingdom is now being ruled by the previous king's son, Nash.
King Nash is doing his best to keep his kingdom from falling apart, and is trying to repair what his father and Fire's father did to almost destroy it. There is an impending war that could either dethrone King Nash or bring the kingdom together. King Nash seeks out Fire for her ability to read people's minds, and to have her as an ally in his quest to unite his kingdom. Fire must not only work towards understanding herself and her abilities, but also decide on how these abilities will be used or not used.
As said before I'd never read Graceling before reading Fire. With so much fantasy being set in modern times lately it is a breath of fresh air to read a book set in a more traditional fantasy setting. Fire is a fragile women who feels the scars of her father's past are her own to bear. Fire is, at first, someone who only wishes to be normal. She hides from her beauty and from her mind reading abilities. She is ashamed of them because of how her father used to and taught Fire how to use them. To Fire's father their exceptional beauty made humans their play things not their equals. To her father they are the superior beings, and should use their powers to their greatest advantage.
Fire is different. Fire wishes only to be seen as someone beyond her exceptional abilities. When King Nash asks Fire to use these abilities to his advantage Fire must decide for herself if using her abilities in this way is immoral. Cashore is an exceptional writer with an ability to make her readers think about the consequences behind Fire's actions as well as the actions that others ask of her. Fire also encompasses questions of gender, violence, family, friendship and race that all of the characters must face and react to individually giving Fire a highly engrossing cast of characters as diverse and intriguing as the main character.
Cashore delivers an amazingly realistic fantasy world. Her writing is understated and beautiful which can only lend to it's readability for its readers. Fire is at a mature teen reader level as it deals adult situations. The book will definitely rate high on any fantasy lovers list. Fire has also been nominated as a CYBILS finalist for 2009.