Considering this is the sequel to Graceling, I thought I was going to fly through this book. Honestly, it just fell short of my expectations and I was pretty disappointed.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea, still under the influence of her father Leck, a violent psychopath who altered minds. Her advisers want to pardon evildoers and forget everything, but she sees the past holds fast. Two thieves, who only steal what has been stolen, hold the truth and change her life. One, his Grace skill unidentified, has a key to her heart.
First of all, this is the longest book in the series with the shortest synopsis. That doesn’t even cover half of the stuff that goes on, but whatever, we’ll get into that later.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
What I Liked:
• Bitterblue – This book takes place eight years after the events of Graceling, making Bitterblue 18 years old, Kasta and Po (and all their friends) around 26-27 years old. Bitterblue may have been the queen since she was 10, but that doesn’t mean she’s been in charge of anything. She’s more of a figurehead, signing papers her advisers shove at her, constantly hiding in the castle until, finally, she decides to sneak out. Throughout the whole book, Bitterblue is finding herself. She befriends common folk, and it takes her a long time to realize how different they truly are from each other. Money means nothing to her; she can command anything to happen to anyone whenever she feels like it; she can pardon people for murder and sentence others to death for stealing bread. (Not that she does, those were just examples)! She’s just a scared girl trying to play queen and by the end of the book, she does.
• The Return of Katsa & Po – I loved these two so much in Graceling that I missed them in Fire. Having them back felt like old friends coming back after a vacation without contact. That they’re older and still so much the same. It wasn’t just the return of Katsa and Po, but of all the old cast: Giddon, Bann, Raffin, Helda. It was better than an epilogue, because I was able to really see what they were all up to.
Tho I really wanted Giddon & Bitterblue together okay Idec about the age difference sue me
• Teddy & Saf – Such polar opposites and so darn refreshing. Saf was so full of angst and misguided anarchy, while all Teddy wanted to do was create and share books. I loved Bitterblue’s relationship with both of them; Saf was her freedom and Teddy was her compassion for her people. Teddy always trusted her, and Saf was always pushing her. Saf’s reaction to Bitterblue’s true identity was so realistic too; most people would feel so betrayed that it would take them forever to forgive that person. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t feel betrayed.
What I Disliked
• The Ciphers – This may just be a personal preference since I’m awful at puzzles and math, but good lord does everyone use ciphers?! It just felt like so much overkill. Is the molding on the walls also a cipher, left by the architects? It just felt so ridiculous. I understand that writing letters in a ciphered text makes sense, but journals and even embroidery being a cipher? To me, it just felt ridiculous that Bitterblue would even consider that her mother’s embroidery could be a cipher. I really have a problem with Leck keeping 35 ciphered journals just laying around (no matter how hidden he thought they were). For some reason, I just feel like he would have been so paranoid with anyone finding them that he wouldn’t have written them at all. And speaking about the late King…
• Leck – Some people are just crazy. There’s no reason for the madness, and rarely ever do they leave reasons laying around. He was a good villain for the series, but I just didn’t like the way every single thing was explained. Bitterblue’s need for clarity is completely understandable, but truth is a luxury some people don’t get to experience. Leck was always worried about people being able to ignore his influence; even in Fire, he hated knowing there were people who he couldn’t control. Why would he ever leave notebooks around that gave people that information, ciphered or not?
• The Advisors – Everything just seemed too convenient about Bitterblue’s advisors. They were all guilty, and yet nobody said anything? Nobody? Out of all the people in the castle, nobody saw anything? I just find that so unbelievable. And then all but one dies, of course. Suicides, betrayal… It just felt like they were placed there because somebody needed to take the blame for Leck after his death.
What did you think of the third installment of the Graceling Realm books? What did you love about it? What didn’t you love about it?