As I closed Fire (an awesome book—I rarely enjoy high fantasy and gobbled this one up), I had several thoughts raging through my head, but two were predominant. One was, “HOW COULD SHE DO THAT TO ARCHER? DOES KRISITIN CASHORE HAVE NO SOUL?!” Quickly followed by, “Oh my God—I’m an ARCHER-phyle—does this mean my feminist card has been revoked?”

fire-1

I’m still pondering that last question.

Let’s face it—it seems pretty obvious that Cashore penned Brigan to be the perfect feminist love interest. He trusts Fire, he’s okay with her risking her life to help the kingdom if that’s her choice, he respects her as an equal.

And then there’s Asher: jealous, possessive, and man-whore of the Dells. Talk about a guy who likes to shoot his arrow. A LOT. I mean, preferring macho Asher to sensitive Brigan? Really? Maybe I should just give up my voting rights and knit my husband some slippers while he goes to a strip club.

Um.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s not all there was to it for me. Yes, Archer might have had some issues he needed to work out (some issues I think were caused in part by his and Fire’s emotional imbalance—he was madly in love with her, she did not feel the same) but he was so ALIVE. Fun. Vibrant. And for me, well, Brigan was kind of a sad-sack. *ducks rotten tomatoes from the horde of Brigan fangirls out there*

Really, though—I get that Brigan has HUGE, important issues to contend with, I do. His constant role as defender of his kingdom weighs heavily on him, so it’s not exactly appropriate for him to run around skipping and singing Lady Gaga all the time. But I also don’t find morose men especially attractive. Technology in Brigan’s kingdom just came up with reattaching amputated limbs—surely they could conjure up some anti-depressants, too? Because I think the poor guy could use some.

So for me, a big part of the Archer versus Brigan thing has nothing to do with feminism, and everything to do with personality. Like I said on twitter, I’m afraid for Fire, really afraid that after spending too much time with Brigan, she’s going to lock herself in her bedchamber and listen to the fantasy equivalent of Morrissey until she’s too depressed to do anything but eat chocolate and make the maids act out soap operas.

To be totally fair, some of my blatant Archer favoritism may stem from me being spoiled by romance novels. While I guess it’s more realistic for the love interest not to put the heroine number one before everything in real life, I think for Brigan, Fire ranked about 4th, after leading the army, his brother the King, his daughter, etc. For Archer, she was number one, and realistic or not, that’s worth something to me.

But no matter how much I explain, I can’t shake the feeling that Betty Friedan is rolling in her grave.

So, after donning my flame-proof suit, I have to ask–what do you all think? Archer or Brigan? And why?

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18 Responses to “Fire: Why Cashore has me feeling like a failed feminist (Go Archer!)”

  1. cindy Says:

    why not both? is that feminist? hahaha!

  2. Sumayyah Says:

    Well, you already know who I like, haha. BUT, you have good reasons for liking Archer better than Brigan. I think I’m such a control freak that I’d feel like I had to raise Archer, where as with Brigan, I wouldn’t be afraid that I’d come home and he’d have set the house on fire. I NEED to know the man in my life can be trusted with stuff or I’ll just sit him in a corner, tell him to twiddle his thumbs and maybe put a muzzle on him JUST IN CASE. LOL.

    But, yeah. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loving Archer. ;)

  3. Dawn Says:

    Well, you know I agree with you 100%. Brigan was bland for me, he completely lacked spark beyond riding around on a horse and battling people. Archer was passionate – albeit in the wrong ways, sometimes.

    I’ll take a guy I can have fun with any day over someone who drives me into depression :)

  4. Kristin Says:

    Actually, I’m a bigger fan of Archer, too. Ignoring your partner and not being totally supportive and protective does not equal feminism. What a warped concept! Humans are naturally tribal creatures – we need one another for a support system in a variety of ways. I just don’t buy the idea that a man stepping aside to let the woman do whatever is the same thing as feminism. It’s one thing to be trusting and appreciate each person’s strength and ability, but true feminism is both man and woman admitting need and accepting help and companionship from one another.

    And I HATED the way Fire treated Archer. She was manipulative, abusive and emotionally hateful. She didn’t like the way he acted, but she kept going back to him/egging him on/accepting his physical relationship KNOWING FULL WELL how he felt. I hated that relationship. I really did.

  5. houndrat Says:

    Cindy–snork! :D

    Sumayyah–haha, yes, I def. know where you stand. I’m lol’ing at the image of Archer sulking in the corner.

    Dawn–agreed re: Archer being passionate!

    Kristin–OMG, THANK YOU! Brigan’s lack of protectiveness toward Fire bugged me too, and then I kept questioning myself, wondering if it’s just some ingrained gender role thing. But you’re right–shouldn’t we all worry and be protective of our loved ones, whether we’re male or female?

    And yeah, I felt really, really bad for Archer in this novel.

  6. Kate Says:

    “true feminism is both man and woman admitting need and accepting help and companionship from one another.”

    Kristin just summed up my world view in 17 words.

    *bows*

  7. Sandy Shin Says:

    I haven’t read FIRE yet (though I should soon, because I did enjoy GRACELING), and while I, er, do tend to like morose and supportive love interests, based on your descriptions, I do think I prefer Archer.

    And, really, preferring a character because of his personality does not make you a failed feminist (or so I am one, too :) ).

  8. Becca Says:

    AAAAGGHHH. I just got Graceling in the mail yesterday. Yeah, I know. I’m way behind. So I’ll be honest and say–I didn’t read this post. I can’t take spoilers! Aaaaghh, my eyes! *melts like the wicked witch*

    /melodramatic moment

  9. tehawesomersace Says:

    I guess I’m the only one on team Brigan here. :(

    I think Brigan worked as her love interest because he loved her for who she was, despite what she looked like. Archer was only all about Fire because he liked that it made other men jealous, and she was gorgeous. Mostly because she was gorgeous. There are several scenes where he really doesn’t even get what Fire is saying, and doesn’t seem to even care about her opinion. Archer is all about the party, and when it comes down to the hard stuff, he’s more likely to be off chasing skirts than backing up Fire. He only loves her when she’s in the room.

    Although, I thought she managed the entire affair just as badly as he did :P

    I think if you look at it realistically, Archer is the guy you date in high school and college, the fun guy who knows where all the best parties are and teaches you how to do keg stands. He might be fun for awhile, but eventually you dump him. Brigan is the guy you marry, because you know he’ll have a job and be able to pay the mortgage.

  10. parametric Says:

    My memory of Archer is that he got jealous, whined a lot, slept around, carelessly got two women pregnant (one very young), betrayed Fire’s secrets, and generally acted like a jerk. He’s the kind of ex who calls you drunk at 3am crying and begging you to take him back. No thanks! I’ll stick with the less flashy but more responsible Brigan.

  11. Kristin Says:

    Heh, Archer wasn’t perfect. But that relationship was so messed up. Two immature characters, IMO.

    The sleeping around? Meh. It wasn’t part of their relationship contract for him to stay monogamous. In fact, Fire encouraged Archer to see other people in one breath, then chewed him out for doing just that in the next.

    The pregnancies? Oh yeah, that one grated on me. And here’s why. This world is supposed to be all female-empowering, right? So why does Archer get all the blame for the pregnancies? Women are not natural victims! Those girls are just as much to blame for the pregnancies as Archer, and yet their behavior is for the most part excused. Hello, double standard. My feminism demands I take responsibility for my own actions.

    Fun dialogue. :)

  12. houndrat Says:

    Kate–amen!

    Becca–ha! Hope you have fun reading Graceling!

    Sandy–Ooh, I’ll be curious to see who you prefer once you read!

    Tehawesomersace: Thanks so much for sharing! See, I didn’t think that Archer liked that other men coveted Fire AT ALL–in fact, I think it drove him nuts. Isn’t that why he tried to keep her at his house for the most part, bc he was worried for her safety because the things her beauty might cause other men to do?

    Para: I think that’s a very surface assessment of Archer, yes–but I think there were some deeper issues at play in the story. While I was FURIOUS when he blurted out her secret–that was bad!–I agree with Kristin–both characters are a little immature. I think he got jealous, unfortunately, bc he knew Fire’s feelings never matched his. Also, for the record, I’m not saying that Archer was a better match for Fire, bc honestly, they weren’t good for each other.

    Kristin—the maid’s pregnancy bothered me a bit, just bc of the power imbalance, but not the pregnancy of the King’s sister. She was a mature, powerful, consenting adult, and she had access to the herbs. And I agree 100% on your assessment of Archer’s sleeping around. Fire encouraged it at times, then got jealous at other times, but overall, it was an accepted part of their relationship.

  13. Kaitlin Says:

    It looks like my comment got swallowed by wordpress somewhere! I found Brigan to be the more mature one, and a lot more secure in himself and his masculinity. I had no problem with Archer sleeping around, and I think Kristin makes a fair point (at least about the older woman)that he can’t take the blame for the pregnancies all alone. But Brigan didn’t need to watch over Fire every second to be confident in their relationship.
    I think if Archer weren’t in the book, those of you who thought Brigan had a flat personality probably wouldn’t think so. Archer is VERY colorful, and very passionate, so of course Brigan is going to look bland next to that. But I preferred him because I find it so much sexier when a guy is secure and comfortable and doesn’t have to be constantly proving how much of a man he is. (Also leading troops? Helloooo hot.)
    That said, I do think Fire was HORRIBLE to Archer, and while I loved this book overall, her treatment of Archer was unnecessarily horrible. As other people said above. It was one of two main issues I had with the book (the other being the storyline that ties it loosely to GRACELING felt forced, imo. I won’t say more than that because there’s no need to spoil everyone who hasn’t read it lol)

  14. Ellen Says:

    I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE!!
    Seriously. I was so upset when SPOILERY THINGS HAPPENED with Archer. Weep. Because his character had so much personality and complexity, and Brigan was just, Mr. Perfect. Yawn?
    But I always like bad-boys :)

  15. Dystophil Says:

    Okay, I just majorly spoiled myself, since I actually still have to read FIRE (It’s up next on my list :D ), but having read a lot about the book beforehand and being kind on the iffy side with overly emo Love Interests anyway, I guess I’m on the bad boy bandwagon as well, generally speaking. Obviously this is a general trend in fantasy with a romance angle: we deviate from Mr. Perfect and go for the more realistic characters, the ones that have their flaws and dark secrets? Is dark, brooding and morally ambiguous the new sexy or what? ;)

  16. Jennifer Says:

    Archer, cause he knew how to shoot his “arrow” lmao :D I was rooting for Archer through the whole thing and I didn’t think Brigan was deserving of her. Simply put. But Archer was a dog and I still can’t jump up and down about that. And yes, she should’ve loved him but I think she gets what she deserves in Brigan by being “fourth” She might could have been first in Archer’s life, but he was too busy bedding every girl and I think that although she accepted him for that, she couldn’t give her heart completely to him because he wasn’t so trustworthy. Of course it did take me a while to bounce back from the first chapter.

  17. Ellen Says:

    P.S. – I gave you a blog award (not just because you’re Team Archer, I swear! >.> )

  18. Kristin Says:

    Well, the thing is, I’ve dated Archers. They’re not all they’re cracked up to be. And I really appreciated that Fire understood the fact that she could not be herself, couldn’t really feel free with Archer because of his jealousy. I know that feeling. But I also agree that Archer was the more interesting character. :)

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