Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle–disguised and alone–to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead
I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Graceling series, and this one definitely did not disappoint. Everything about this book was brilliant – the characters, the plot, the mysteries, the world-building. I would highly recommend this (and the first two books) to anyone interested in fantasy worlds.
This is the British cover of Bitterblue and I love it so much. It matches perfectly with the covers of Graceling and Fire, and it keeps the same feeling of mystery going. It’s really obvious from this that Bitterblue has grown up, that there’s something she needs to find out, and it definitely reflects the mood of the book. Also, there’s a bit of a subtle hint to one of the main characters in the book that I hadn’t noticed before.
I enjoyed the plot of Bitterblue a lot. It was very different to the both Graceling and Fire, seeing as it is all contained within one city rather than the characters having to trek across the majority of the country/kingdom/place. In Bitterblue, I got to discover more about how the city works and the political plotting and such, and I found ti really interesting. Also, there was a lot about what Leck’s reign had caused, and the majority of the book is based around Bitterblue trying to right the wrongs he has caused. It could be a little slow at times until a new plot point developed, but those slow sections were never too slow and there were lots of clever little twists and turns in the book.
One of my favourite things about this series are the characters. They’re all so different and interesting, and I enjoyed meeting a new range of characters in this book. Teddy and Saf quickly became favourites with their antics, and they became even more interesting as their back-story became apparent. Saf’s relationship with Bitterblue was wonderful, especially as they learnt things about each other and reacted appropriately. There were also many interesting characters in the castle, and they all had plenty of secrets to discover. One of my favourites by the end of the book had to be Death and his library, and all his little personality quirks. Learning more about him and his talents were a joy. Of course, there are returning characters in this book and I’ll all say is that the relationships between the ones who are in the book are brilliant.
Obviously, the main character of this book was Bitterblue, who readers first met as a ten year old in Graceling. Now that she’s older and wanting to discover more about herself and her kingdom, it was great getting to know her better. I loved the fact that she was ready to go and do things for herself instead of relying on her councillors. Bitterblue also had lovely relationships with the people she met in the city, like Saf and Teddy, and I loved how those relationships developed based on the personalities of the characters.
The Little Things
Sometimes things in books just stand out for me, and one of those things were the ciphers used in the book. Ever since I was young, I’ve loved code books and puzzles, so having these complicated ciphers in the book was brilliant and I got really excited when I saw the diagrams of the codes in the book.
The settings, as always, were breath-taking. I loved the idea of the bridges in the city, and the illustrations in the book really brought them to life. Also, Death’s Who’s Who at the end of the book was lovely, especially with the added comments about certain characters.
Over all, I loved this book and I already plan to reread the whole series. I would recommend these to anyone who likes fantasy, intrigue, good-looking Lienids, castles, amazing scenery and banter.