Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.
Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.
Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
Human monsters, on the other hand, tended not to live long. Too many predators, too many enemies. It was for the best that Fire was the only one remaining... p.56I've been anxious to read this one. I liked Graceling so much and finally it came to the top of my list. I enjoyed this one too. Fire was a different sort of character than Katsa. She is weaker almost in a way, unwilling to use her powers to harm someone, afraid of what people will do to her. But she is strong too because she can withstand torment that others can not. Fire's power is the ability to read and control minds as well as attract them with her great beauty. As a monster, she is alluring and wonderful making people dropped their guard around her. With the animal monsters, this is a great thing since they don't have to work too hard for their food, but it is a disadvantage and an embarrassment to Fire. Summoned first to the Queen's home and then to the King's City to interrogate someone who has tried to kill her, Fire is drawn into the politics of her country and she begins to understand that she can put her powers to good use and that it doesn't have to be this monstrance thing.
The plot moved right along and I only felt bogged down on a couple of the million times that Fire is shown to be monstrously beautiful, blah blah. I liked the subplot with her father and how that turned out. And I liked the romance part. It was sweet and natural though not unexpected.