Fire is something of a bizarre ‘sequel’. It’s actually set chronologically before Graceling. For the most part, it’s set in a different part of the world, separated from the previously known seven kingdoms by an (almost) impassible mountain range. And with one exception–that honestly doesn’t make that much sense–there are no characters shared between the two books. Honestly, this joins the list of books that would have been much better had they not been marketed as a sequel or even being explicitly in the same world.
There are some odd choices in the book that I don’t really understand.
First: the monsters. So far as I can tell–and it’s still unclear, even after reading the entire book–monsters are a subset of just about any kind of animal that are more colorful than normal and have a variety of mental powers. Monster birds? Sure. Monster bugs? All righty then. Fire, the protagonist, is the only known human monster in the present day. Throughout the entire book, I had to wonder: why ‘monsters’? Couldn’t Cashore have made up a different term? She already did for Graceling after all…
Second: are there any main characters that aren’t either illegitimate or the result of rape or a near one night stand? I’m sure there are, but again and again we get revelations that yet another character’s parentage is not what everyone assumed. And yet… nothing ever seems to come of it, despite what looks to be quasi-European style monarchies and inheritance.
Third: Fire’s menstrual cycle comes up again and again throughout the book. It appears to attract other monsters… and that’s about it. It seems an odd thing to bring up if it’s not going to be relevant to the main plot.
Fourth: what’s with that horse? And was Garan poisoned or just sick or what? There are a few plot points in Fire that seem like they’re going somewhere and just sort of fizzle out.
Characterwise, I liked Fire well enough, especially in the first large chunk of the book. She is a bit on the passive side for a protagonist, but so it goes. Brigan comes across as a good guy and it’s nice that he doesn’t get killed off and honestly gets a pretty decent ending, all things considered. Archer… is annoying. I don’t really get him. Leck is just as creepy as remembered. I’m not really sure what the point of him in Fire was. Other than that… sure. Decent characterization, but nothing that really stands out.
Overall, I liked Graceling better and don’t really think the two fit together, but it’s still a decent read.