Title : Bitterblue
Author : Kristin Cashore
Publisher : Dial
Publication Date : May 1st, 2012
Pages : 563
Stand Alone or Series : #3 in the Graceling Realm series
Three Words : fantasy, mystery, royalty
Red Flags : violence including sexual in nature, psychological trauma, some language…(definitely for older adolescents or young adult)
******WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first and second books of this series – Graceling and Fire (click for review). YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!! *******************************************************
Summary : It is eight years after the events in Graceling during which King Leck was finally killed. The country of Monsea is still reeling from thirty-five years of horrific acts of physical, mental and sexual depravity that in some cases they have committed themselves. Queen Bitterblue is attempting to heal her country while still trying to learn what it means to become a queen. Under advice from her council, she has pardoned all crimes committed during Leck’s reign and is attempting to forget everything that happened. However, Bitterblue notices that people are acting strangely (including her main advisers) and that maybe revisiting the past is the only way to heal the pain. She decides to sneak out of the castle at night and in disguise. While out and about, she meets two young thieves who only steal what was previously stolen and return it to their rightful owners. They open her eyes to what is really going on in her country. Will Bitterblue be able to help her country become prosperous and move on from their painful past? Can SHE move past what her father did?
My Take : So if you did read my other two reviews for the books in this series, you know that I LOVE these books. I was so excited about Bitterblue that I rushed to the library to pick up my precious copy. And maybe I was so excited that my expectations were slightly over the top….but Bitterblue did NOT live up to it. ( A tear is dropping from my eye right now….) I spent much of the first two-thirds of this book in a state of confusion. Yes, people were acting strangely and that was mysterious and all but mostly it just didn’t make ANY sense. Bitterblue was just annoying me because she seemed so flighty and unsure of herself ALL the time. Weird things would happen (that didn’t connect to anything else mind you) and she would be all ” Woe is me….I just don’t know what to do.” I spent a lot of time feeling like shaking her and saying (in my head) ” WAKE UP! Do something for the love of Christ.” Also, the romance with one of the thieves was not what I would call awesome. I just didn’t really like him all that much (not in the way I loved Brigan from Fire or Po from Graceling). All that being said, the last third of the book finally brought things together and was a satisfying ending to the trilogy. So while I was in a perpetual state of confusion and anxiety for the first part of the book, I ended feeling ok about the whole thing in the end. In the end, I wouldn’t give up reading two FANTASTIC books for a less than awesome ending. This makes the whole rating thing hard…..
My Rating : Seven shoes (I averaged a five for the beginning and a nine for the end )
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Title : Fire
Author : Kristin Cashore
Publisher : Dial Books
Publication Date : October 5th, 2009
Pages : 461
Stand Alone or Series : #2 in the Graceling series BUT this is a companion novel rather than a sequel so you could read it without reading the other books.
How obtained : ebook from the library
Three Words : fantasy world, character driven, intrigue
Red Flags : frank depiction of sex, violence and gore, no language
Summary (from Goodreads): It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men. This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own. Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.
If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.
My Take : Can I just say that I love Kristin Cashore! I love her so much I want to marry her and have her babies or possibly just lock her up in a basement forcing her to write fantasy novels forevermore ( I’m kidding!) This book was so fantastic, I love, love, loved it. Okay, I’ll stop gushing and actually tell you why I loved it. First, this is NOT a sequel to the Graceling (click for my review) which I also very much enjoyed. That threw me off at first but then I started to enjoy the story so much I didn’t care. Fire is an interesting, flawed character. I enjoyed the concept that she was so beautiful that people were basically bewitched by her monster abilities but that this actually was a problem rather than an asset for her. Her father had these same powers but used them for the most evil depraved things so she is fraught with anxiety that she is going to turn out just like him. Then we meet Prince Brigan, who hates her instantly but also must admit that her powers are useful to the kingdom. He is stubborn and prideful but also kind, interesting, intelligent, and a fierce warrior. This is very much a character study that studies what it means to overcome your past, including having a crazy evil parent. Unlike many other fantasy novels, the romance isn’t necessarily central to the whole story but they actually spend some time on it and make it more than just instant attraction = love. I really cannot say enough about how much I liked this book and I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it.
Rating : 10 SHOES! (It happened again……)
Title : Graceling
Author : Kristin Cashore
Publisher : Harcourt
Pages : 471
Publication Date : October 1st, 2008
Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Graceling Realm series
Three Words : fantasy, YA, lady assassin
Red Flags : some violence, mild sexuality (appropriate for older adolescents)
Summary : Katsa is Graced. In her world, some people are born with special abilities (called Graces) The Grace gives them special powers – the ability to read minds, to swim like a fish or the ability to make beautiful music. Katsa hates her Grace – the Grace of killing. She is under the command of her uncle, King Randa and he expects her to do his dirty work – threatening wayward subjects with torture or death. Katsa has decided to use her powers for good when possible but it must be done behind her uncle’s back. While out on a mission to rescue a stolen royal, she meets a young Graced prince. Prince Po is Graced with fighting skills. When he shows up at the court of King Randa they decide to train together in order to become better fighters. But something unexpected and new happens to Katsa; she makes a friend. Together they will try to figure out the secret of why somebody has kidnapped Po’s grandfather – it is a dangerous secret that affects all the seven kingdoms.
My Take : Love, Love, Love!! This was such a fun book and I was kinda disappointed that I hadn’t heard of it before. Katsa is such an interesting character. She actually reminds me a little bit of Katniss Everdeen – hardboiled, practical but somewhat naive in relationships. She relies on herself and she is a strong woman…so delightful. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have doubts or bad moments. But it is the tension between your good and bad self that makes for an interesting character.
The relationship between Po and Katsa is believable and interesting. They are friends – they talk about their lives, have fun together, etc… I really liked seeing a man and woman have a great friendship. It is obvious to me that Cashore has respect for the many sides of both genders.
Cashore is just a beautiful writer. She brought this new world to life for me. I loved the characters both on the bad and good side. I cannot wait to find out how this all ends up. I give this book nine shoes!
Has anybody else read this series? What did you think?
Also, if you haven’t done it yet, please sign up to follow me!!