I didn't realize it, but all I read in September 2015 were two books in Kristin Cashore's Graceling Realm series. I was pretty busy this month - not only was it my birthday (yay!) but my wedding is in a little less than a year and Curtis and I really started the planning process. Who knew how much time that would take up?
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Katsa must use her Grace - ultimate fighting power - to rescue her kingdom from its king.
Graceling has a lot of the elements I love: adventure, strong female characters, an interesting and unique magic system (that doesn't dominate the story to the point of making it boring), political intrigue, and an understated love story. I rarely read a series back-to-back, but I immediately sought out the next book I enjoyed Graceling so much.
Fire by Kristin Cashore
With the ability to tap into and control the minds of those around her, the beautiful half-monster Fire teeters on the may have the ability to save the Dells or let herself be destroyed by those around her.
After loving Graceling so much, Fire was a bit of a let down. Fire, the name of the main character, is a human monster of exceptional beauty and drives men wild. There are so many icky encounters with men that Fire neither shuts down or deals with in any way or ever seems to really process internally that it makes it hard for me to accept her as the strong character she is meant to be. Katsa, the protagonist in Graceling, had more depth and complexity in my opinion.
Both books feature fantastic world building with a fascinating history and magic system. The characters that populate the stories are interesting -- even when I find them frustrating -- and their stories intertwine in such a way that they build on each other, but are not dependent on the reader knowing the other books. If I'd read Fire independent of Graceling, I think I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more - I just expected it to be something different.