Book 3 (This is the sequel to Graceling and companion to Fire)
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.
So I really enjoy Kristin Cashore’s writing. She created a world that is unique and beautiful. This book had a very medieval feel unlike Fire (which was beautiful landscape) and Graceling (which was a thrill ride). We get reintroduced to past characters such as Katsa, Po, and a brief appearance by Fire. I liked Po a lot from the other book so it was nice to see him again. I liked Saf but wanted much more of him. Bitterblue who is the protagonist didn’t do much for me and I found her frustrating and very immature (in terms of not knowing things). The plot parallels Fire a lot since it deals with the young daughters dealing with their father’s past actions. The story was overly complex. Issues were mentioned and then abandoned and then readdressed. Things could have been more quickly addressed if they stuck with an issue and solved it. The book may have been overly long because of this. I did like the mystery surrounding what Leck did in the past but then once again solving it no longer became a priority. If they wanted to get over Leck’s reign they should have either figured out everything he did and then make amends or completely wipe out any lasting things from his reign (such as getting rid of all of Bitterblue’s advisors, Leck’s art, etc.). The romance in this book isn’t a priority which is similar to the other two books but it’s even worse. A romantic interest is provided but then disappears for a large portion of the book and nothing further develops. I know that romance isn’t big in these books but it would have been nice to see at least one case of romance sticking (I know Po and Katsa are still together but it’s a very complex relationship). I recommend this book but it’s not a stand alone like the others.