Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Graceling Realm #3
Published May 1, 2012 by Dial
563 pages
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Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: 1. Graceling 2. Fire 3. Bitterblue*
Source: ALAMW 2012
Rating: LOVED IT!

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.(Source: Goodreads)

I am such a fan girl of this series and Cashore’s writing. I knew I would love Bitterblue before I ever cracked the cover, but I just didn’t know the why yet. Each book in this loosely connected series is very unique. The only consistency is strong women and the perfect men for those women. Each woman, Katsa, Fire and Bitterblue, has something different that makes them memorable. I was very excited to find out what that was about Bitterblue.

She is 18 years old now and is trying to get a rein on her kingdom. She has been ruling through regents up till this point, but she wants to become more involved. She grows weary of the falsities of court life and suspects that her advisers are keeping things from her, so she sneaks out at night to discover the true state of her kingdom. What she finds is frightening and mesmerizing at the same time. She easily sucked into the story houses that share truths and tall tales of when Leck ruled. While skulking around she stumbles into a band of truthseekers, Teddy, Saf and their sisters.

With the help of the truthseekers, trusted revolutionaries, and no help from her advisers, Bitterblue strives to uncover the buried truths from Leck’s reign. She really believes the “truth will set them free.” Her journey had the history teacher in me all a flutter. Bitterblue is the poster child of an Enlightened Despot. She works so hard to provide for the literacy of her nation, truth and to right the wrongs and fix an unjust tax system. The truthseekers fit the revolutionary mold. They are young, idealistic and pure in their goals. The established revolutionaries, Katsa and Po, are much more pragmatic. As they continue their work of supporting coups that overthrow bad rulers, they also evaluate the kingdoms ability to carry out its aims and worry about failure (history examples: Uganda and Cuba).

Bitterblue is drawn to a tapestry of Fire in the library. It really comforted her to look at it. It made me widen my thinking about their possible connection. They are both women that had evil fathers, though these men showed love toward their daughters. It is very difficult for them to wrestle with that love and all the horrible things that parent did. They have to redefine how people see them and judge them for their actions alone.

There is a romantic interest, Saf. But I love how it is secondary and muted. Bitterblue and Saf’s interactions evolve and grow organically weaving in and out through the larger story. I suspect Saf may have a book coming in the land of the monsters, if we are lucky. If you haven’t, you really must read this series. It is one my favorite of all time. Bitterblue will find her way into your heart.

Twists and turns of palace intrigue seek to undo Bitterblue’s quest for truth and healing.

16 responses to “Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

  1. EEEEP! I swear, after I get all my review requests off my plate this month, I am going to re-read Graceling and Fire so I can truly experience Bitterblue. Thank you for this awesome review. Your thoughts remind me of why I love the series so much – strong women and a strong writer. Woot!

  2. Graceling is on my agenda for this month! It is one of those books that I know I just have to like in spite of it being YA

  3. Oooh great! I only just finished Graceling but I loved it and I picked up Fire at the bookstore. I can’t wait to continue on! :)

  4. Ooooh! I really do hope we get a Saf book in the monster world. I felt like the romance between Bitterblue and Saf was not fully concluded. Amanda want MOAR.

    • Agreed. The adult me wanted more of them, but proud of Cashore for holding out us though. But that means she owes us another book.

      Did she say how far she expected to take this world she created?

      • Eep. It’s been a couple months since the signing, but I believe she said she hoped that she was able to write more books. I got the sense that either she didn’t know if her books would be picked up or that she couldn’t really say.

  5. Gorgeous review, Amy. I’m about halfway through the Bitterblue audio and am now even more eager to finish it! That would be cool if Cashore continues with a spin-off. Hope it won’t be long before her next book.

  6. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (28) | bookgoonie

  7. Pingback: Book Review: “Bitterblue” « The Cheap Reader

  8. Pingback: Book Review: “Fire” « The Cheap Reader

  9. Ahh! Ok, so I was not as happy as you about this one. I’m still a Cashore fangirl…but I didn’t like that the romance didn’t seem to have a resolution. Not having that really stymied my enjoyment of this one. And I was all over Giddion to be her pick in the end. I just don’t see how Saf and Bitterblue could get together and still rule appropriately. I think Saf throws her off…Giddion is the one she trusts with her truths. Maybe a Hara book? More on the new sister and on Saf?

    • I really liked Gideon too. I agree on the romance. I really wanted it tied up a bit more. Maybe Saf will go off to the Land of the Monsters & she’ll hook up with Gideon in the next book. Or maybe she’ll tap into Elizabeth I and have both ;)

      • Do you love how I spelled Gideon’s name wrong ALL OVER THE INTERNET?! lol. Ooops, I spelled it wrong the first time in my notes (usually I check these things!) and the error persisted. Now off to update my own Bitterblue post where in I say Gideon’s name a lot. lol

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