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A companion novel to Graceling.
Fire is the last human monster to exist in the Dells. The world is populated by monstrous creatures, creatures of incredible beauty and incredible colors with the power to take your mind away from you. Fire's father was advisor to the previous king of the Dells, and most of the kingdom places the blame rightly on him for the poor choices and eventual downfall of King Nex. Fire has spent most of her life trying to live around the emotions she cannot help but bring out in those who merely see her: everything from love and adoration to utter hate.
A strange force has begun moving in the Dells. In the wake of King Nex and Fire's father, the kingdom is faced with the potential of three forces going to war over the rulership. King Nash and his advisors begin pleading with Fire to leave her northern home to aid their efforts against this civil war. Strange men begin showing up around Fire and the royal family, men who's minds feel wrong to Fire's monster senses, uniformly empty of their indivual thoughts. It doesn't take long for Fire to realize that there is another kind of monster at work in the Dells, using the war time to hide his actions: somewhere, there is a being who can alter minds to his will, who delights in cruelty. Against two threats, Fire realizes she must do the thing she has feared for so long: she must learn how to use her powers to work for the kingdom, both to save herself and to pay back the waste of life that her father incurred.