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After listening to Graceling and Fire on audio, and really liking the narration, I was forced to actually pick up Bitterblue and read it, since my library didn’t have the audio. I actually think I got quite a bit out of the audio of the first two books, because I knew how words and names were pronounced, and I had solid voices in my head for various characters which I liked.
Bitterblue picks up a bit after Graceling ends. Ahhhh, I thought, here are the characters I know and want more of.
But really, I should have known based on the book title that this one was not going to focus on Katsa and Po. This made me a bit sad, as I really wasn’t ready to let go of Katsa and Po yet after Graceling. Thankfully Po still plays a substantial role, but not so much Katsa.
WARNING: SOME SPOILERS ARE AHEAD IF YOU HAVE NOT READ GRACELING/FIRE.
This finale to the Graceling Realm trilogy is about Bitterblue trying to put her city back together after the death of Leck. The problem is that she feels like she doesn’t even know her own city, and she thinks everyone around her is hiding things. The truth begins to unravel and she learns things she never could have imagined about the time that Leck spent as king.
I’ve been struggling with this review, and I’m not sure why. Truth be told, I really liked it. There was so much intrigue around what her men were hiding from her, and even more as she explored her city outside the castle walls. I think I just get tired of reviewing one book after another in a series, I start to feel like a broken record. But alas, my favorite way to read series is to wait until the majority are out and then binge read through them all, so I guess I’ll have to find creative ways to get around this.
The plot twists that I loved about Graceling were definitely back in this book. Several times I caught myself surprised at what happened next. I actually really liked the way the Dells/Pikkia tied into the book, it was pretty unexpected until close to the end, though I’m still not entirely sure if this tie-in was worth writing an entire prequel book just to get there. It definitely improved my opinion of Fire though, as I stated before.
I enjoyed watching Bitterblue grow and mature. One of the things I rolled my eyes at in Graceling was the idea of a 10-year-old queen. Cashore does a good job at developing her character though, and it’s fun to watch her “notice” men, particularly Sapphire. The relationship between Bitterblue and Sapphire was endearing, and it really appealed to the “first time…for everything” young girl inside of me.
Ahhh, but that darn “friends” thing again! Cashore once again brought it back with the relationship between Bitterblue and Sapphire, and frankly, I was tired of it. I’m not going to continue ranting about this, because you’ve read it before in my last two posts, but GAH! this really annoyed me.
Finally, there’s the darkness of it all. I won’t lie, this book is definitely dark. The things that Leck did…. Cashore does a good job of skirting around some of the gory details, but the nightmares are easily imagined.
A conversation with a fellow blogger today (Hello Amy!), led me to learn that Graceling and Fire came out in 2008 and 2009, while Bitterblue didn’t come out until 2012. The wide disparity is apparently due to some kind of publishing conflict. However, I could really see a lot of author development in Cashore between the first two books and this third one. I don’t know if it’s because Cashore had so long to look at and edit this book, if she took on other writing projects, or what, but her skills as an author seemed to improve with this last book, which is always a good thing.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, though it still didn’t quite hold the allure that Graceling had for me. Still, I definitely recommend picking up this book and finishing the trilogy, even if you found Fire to be lackluster.
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