Blue Fire

Blue FireIn Blue Fire, the middle book of The Healing Wars trilogy, Nya ends up in Baseer, separated from her friends and her sister. You definitely need to read the books in order, so I will assume you’ve already read my review of The Shifter. Many of the things from that review apply here as well, so I’ll focus on what’s different.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid


In The Shifter, Nya was openly antagonistic to Baseeri people. She definitely viewed them as inherently different and of less worth than Gevegians. When she’s kidnapped and taken to Baseer, she starts meeting Baseeri who aren’t the upper classes who settled in Geveg. She meets street urchins and an underground resistance and others who are being cruelly used by the Duke. She realizes she has a lot more in common with the Baseeri than she thought, and she starts to become uncomfortable when she hears her Gevegian friends speak against the Baseeri just because they’re Baseeri.

She also starts to learn that blood means less than bonds—it turns out that her father was Baseeri by blood, but Gevegian in his heart. This throws a huge wrench into Nya’s worldview, because she’s half-Baseeri by blood but wholly Gevegian in her heart.

Confronting prejudice both in yourself and in others is one of the primary themes of this book. Watching Nya’s views evolve is thought provoking.

Death and Violence

The deaths in the previous book still resonate in this one. Nevertheless, Nya must continue to use violence to keep herself and her friends and family alive. She just keeps heaping on the guilt as the deaths pile up. Seeing what the Duke is doing makes her wonder how she can keep from becoming a monster like him if she continues to hurt people to attain her goals. At what point does violence stop being justified?

The Duke is working on perfecting how to use healing as the ultimate weapon. He’s created the Undying, healer warriors in pynvium armor who can heal themselves in battle. Healers know how to kill efficiently, and Nya witnesses them they killing a young Baseeri girl who tries to prevent them from arresting her father.

Nya faces some really intense pain intended to twist and dominate her mind. This scene is pretty intense and it goes on for a while. If The Shifter was almost too intense/graphic for your kid, this climactic scene may be a bit much.


As Nya’s guilt builds, some readers may start to think she needs to let some stuff go. Her friends certainly think she needs to let some stuff go. She feels responsibility for every bad thing that she’s connected to, even when people chose to act and knew full well what they were getting into. Responsibility is a good thing in some ways, but taking too much of it on yourself can mean taking agency away from other people.

Near the end of the book, Aylin and Danello kidnap Nya because they know that she would try to rescue Tali, something that would without doubt result in her death. Because Nya feels responsible for Tali being captured by the Duke, Aylin and Danello take the decision away from her—the decision to leave Tali is one she can’t make for herself, so they do it for her.

Moral Ambiguity

The tough choices are still very much here—early on, Nya chooses to save Aylin and Danello from certain death, even though it means significant delay in saving Tali. That decision never sits well with her, even though she doesn’t regret it. That’s the nature of touch choices.

There’s an interesting character who serves as a counterpoint to Nya—Vyand, a mercenary tracker, pursues Nya and captures her twice. Once Vyand has turned Nya over to the Duke and collected her reward, she’s even willing to help Nya escape. She’s simply in it for the job. She tells Nya that it’s nothing personal and has a twinge of conscience when Nya points out that it’s very personal to her. Vyand has surprising depth for a minor character.


The fully evil characters continue to be male. The female antagonists are a bit more nuanced. Nya realizes that Vyand doesn’t see her as a weak girl, which makes it harder for Nya to escape from her.


It seems likely that at some point Danello and Nya will be together, but so far they’re still just friends.


Nya is good at figuring things out, but she also knows the value of keeping secrets to herself. Unless there’s a good reason to share what she knows, she’s silent about the things she figures out—she doesn’t use her information as currency.


If you enjoyed The Shifter, the continuing adventures of Nya and her friends are totally worth reading. Parts of it are a bit more intense than the first book, but not overly so. It’s thought provoking in new ways, and I look forward to reading Darkfall, the final book in the trilogy.


Blue Fire by Janice Hardy
Published in 2010 by Balzar + Bray
Second book in The Healing Wars trilogy, after The Shifter and before Darkfall
Read a paperback copy supplied by the author

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