Author: Kristen Cashore
Series: 3rd (Graceling, Fire)
Published: May 1st 2012 by Dial
Description: 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.
I Give This ...
I'm glad I waited to read this. It turns out reading a few reviews before I read it helped me understand what kind of book this might be. I think I would have be really disappointed in it without that knowledge. Bitterblue is different in many ways for the other two books in the series.
I think what might stand out about this novel is that Bitterblue is not graced. She doesn't have the extraordinary abilities of Katsa or Fire. That doesn't mean she's less of a person in anyway, she's just like everybody else. What makes her story stand is she's trying to run a kingdom that was brutally manipulated in ways most people can't even image. She wants people to heal but move forward at the same time. She also wants to fully understand what her father did to everyone around her. She remembers bits of what he did to her, her mother, and to a few of her advisers. But, she can only imagine the scars left on the rest of the kingdom.
But, despite all her best efforts, she often feels like her advisers are trying to brush it all under the rug. She constantly doing paperwork without really interacting with the people in her kingdom. The more questions she asks, the more they evade her. It worries her when she begins to learn the truth. Her kingdom is illiterate, buildings are falling down, and those trying to uncover the truth of Leck's reign are being murdered. With the help of two thiefs she befriends and a very dedicated librarian, Bitterblue begins to uncover what Leck was really trying to accomplish. And it opens up a whole new world to the people of Monsea.
I admired Bitterblue's courage throughout this entire journey. When she discovers her mother had been embroidering cryptic messages in all the bedding, she never falters She keeps reading. Then the librarian turns up journals written in Leck's hand. There's one for each year of his reign, but the language matches none that are known. It's a mystery we already know the answer to, but it's fascinating to watch them unravel it.
It was a slow and meticulous book. It wasn't at all what I originally though it was going to be, but I was okay with that. It ties up all the loose ends beautifully and I loved how in the end the story seemed peaceful.