Monday, February 1, 2010

Gossip Time....FIRE

I just finished listening to Fire, written by Kristin Cashore, and....WOW.

When I first started listening (yes I don't have time in my busy life to read, so I listen to books in the car), I have to admit I was disappointed for a couple of reasons:
  • This audio book did not have a full cast of narrators as Cashore's first novel, Graceling. I think it takes an audio production up to a whole new level when each character is read by a different person. But, despite this, the narrator, Xanthe Elbrick did a phenomenal job. She has the ability to change her voice, and was able to give each character their own distinct sound. The narrator of the Harry Potter series, Jim Dale, does an excellent job of this. If you haven't listened to Harry Potter on audio book- I highly suggest it.
  • Fire is not at all like Graceling, and this was a bit of a let down in the beginning. I had expected another adventure with Katsa, Po, and Bitterblue, but instead Cashore introduces you to an entire new world full of monster creatures, a royal family, lords, and a kingdom on the brink of war. And it took me awhile to warm up to my new imaginary environment, only because I was so attached to the seven kingdoms she had created in Graceling.
As I listened, at first I thought the story was progressing slowly. But looking back, I now see that it was necessary for the story to unfurl as it did. That was the nature of the kingdom of the Dell's. It's a place where it takes three weeks to travel from the north to King's city. Letters and messages don't appear in the blink of the eye as it does in the internet age. But more importantly, the slow pace in the beginning was important to properly introduce the wide cast of characters and to develop the many layers of their personality. In a previous post by agent Nathan Bransford he mentioned things to keep in mind when revising a novel. And one revision point he posed as a question: Are your characters irrevocably changed by the end of your book? Each one of the characters in Fire are irrevocably changed by the end of the book. Did Cashore sit down before the start of the novel and draw an arc for each character and then intertwine them, or did everything just fall into place as she wrote the story? Inquiring minds wants to know.

When I sit back and think about it, it astounds me how many complex layers there are to Fire, the main character of the novel, and the namesake of the book. She is in her late teens and has the ability to hear other people's conciousnesses and control the conciousnesses of those who are unable to guard their mind. And depite having a tyrant for a father, Fire struggles with the moral implications of using her monster powers (as they are called in the Dells). Fire is also enchantingly beautiful. But her beauty is a curse (in the beginning of the book) because it compels people to act out of their minds when they are in her presence.

There is much love and heartbreak, triumph and loss in this novel. There were points when I was on pins and needles, feeling the tension the characters were feeling in particular scenes. And during the times of war, I worried dearly for the commander, wondering if he would make it out alive.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Fire as a read/listen. And in no way was I compensated for this edition of Gossip Time. Go read FIRE, just because it's that good.


  1. Thanks for the in-depth review. I particularly like yours b/c you also address the medium (BOT), one I also frequently use.

  2. I still haven't listened to any books on tape. My commute is about 5 minutes, so it's not worth it in the car. This makes me realize I'd probably love it and should fit it in somewhere!

  3. I totally need to read these books (actually I'll probably listen to them too!)