Another book I'm recommending like crazy at the moment is Kristin Cashore's Fire (Amazon|Indiebound), which is a follow-up to the wonderful Graceling, but also a prequel. I wanted to hold off on talking about it here too much until it was closer to being out (and now it is, on Oct. 5), and I just may do a reread so I can discuss it properly. But Fire isn't one of those books that slips out of the memory. It's the opposite of the easier-way-out sequel to a successful debut, choosing to build more nuance inside the larger world created in the first book, with only one overlapping character. (I'm reminded of Holly's Valiant, still one of my favorites of her books.) And it's a prequel, no less.
This is the kind of boldness that should be richly rewarded by readers. In fact, this sort of high fantasy is not usually the sort that I find appealing–or, at least, it's rarer that I find it more appealing than lacking. I'm a hard sell, and I was sold. If you love Megan Whalen Turner's books, you'll love these, but also find them completely different and interesting in their own way. Which is about the highest compliment I can give. I really think that Cashore is going to be one of those writers who we talk about as continuing to push the boundaries of YA fantasy. You should all read this book. It's provocative, beautifully imagined, and worth your time whether you're a teen or an adult.
And so here's an introduction to a couple of the new characters from the author, as one stop on her multi-leg blog tour*, which is all about "Getting to Know the Characters of Fire":
Princess Clara and Prince Garan, twins, are old King Nax’s illegitimate offspring. (What? You didn’t imagine that that old bonehead was faithful, did you?) Half-siblings to Nash and Brigan, Clara and Garan are part of the quartet of royal siblings on whom the entire fate of the Dells seems to depend. I wouldn’t underestimate them, if I were you. They’re awfully smart, and they never give up.
First reader who shouts out for it in the comments (claimed!) gets a signed copy in the magical, mysterious mails. I might mention that it is actually and not metaphorically shiny. Seriously, beautifully designed book.
*Don't worry; this isn't about to become all-blog-tours-all-the-time. I PROMISE. REALLY. THIS IS IT FOR NOW. And these are BOOKS I REALLY REALLY LOVE. Yes, the post title is a reference to Katniss–or rather Cinna. I am on Team Cinna.