Next up: “Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore
The third book in Cashore’s Graceling realm. It’s a little bit more of a sequel to them, as there are several characters that make appearances that make more sense if you’ve read the other books. “Bitterblue” can be read on its own, but I think to get the most out of it, reading “Graceling” and “Fire” is necessary. As such, warning for spoilers to the other two books below.
Bitterblue is the daughter of King Leck, and the child Katsa and Po save in “Graceling” when her mother makes a run for it with her, pursued by Leck. In this book, Bitterblue is 18 and the rightful ruler of Monsea. Despite the fact that Leck and his horrible oppressive and violent rule is over, the kingdom is hardly in a good place. There are still wounds from Leck’s time; the kingdom is fraught with problems arising from what happened in those thirty-five years. Yet no one wants to address them; Bitterblue’s advisors, who were the stewards of Monsea while she was too young to rule, put forth an edict in which everyone is forgiven their crimes during Leck’s rule and that nobody should speak of those years ever again. But simply forgetting about those dark times does not mean they’ve moved on.
Bitterblue finds herself ruler of a land filled with secrets that continue to choke the life from her people. On top of that, she has her own personal demons from her father’s treatment of her to face. Feeling alone and disconnected from her country and her people, Bitterblue decides one night to sneak into the city surrounding her castle. This sets into motion events that will lead her to the discovery of the truth of Leck’s rule, gain and lose her a great friendship, and help her to grow into her leadership position.
I think this slots between “Fire” and “Graceling” in terms of my enjoyment. It could have been as good as “Fire” but I feel like the ending was… such a non-resolution. As it is, it’s not satisfying. Perhaps there will be another book?
The book has a continual, understated feeling of desperation. The people desperate to keep their secrets, to forget what happened to them, to move beyond. Bitterblue desperate to understand, to heal her country. There’s a quiet mystery here.
I have a fondness for stories where a noble hides who they are and walks among their people, making friends and learning of life beyond their privileges. So I really liked Bitterblue’s excursions into the city, and her friendship with Saf and co.
Well, this is about Leck’s kingdom… so, rape, abuse, torture…