Bitterblue is the third and final installment of the Graceling Realm trilogy. I definitely enjoyed Graceling; Fire was my least favorite, and Bitterblue was simply in between. I listened to this entire series on audiobook, and Graceling was my favorite.
Title: Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Release date: May 1, 2012
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 576 pages (U.S. hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.
But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck’s death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck’s reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea’s past has become shrouded in mystery, and it’s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle – curious, disguised and alone – to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.
Whatever that past holds.
Two thieves, who have sworn only to 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, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart…”
This book was too long. After the disappointment that was Fire, I didn’t know what to expect from Bitterblue. Her character wasn’t explored a lot in Graceling, so I couldn’t necessarily form an attachment to the character. We knew a little about her history, which was interesting enough, especially as we went into this book. But overall, the final book was dull, though heartbreaking.
The worst part is how slow this was, and how often Bitterblue’s staff kept her in the dark about so many things. The worst part is that many of it came to backfire on all of them, and really left the kingdom of Monsea at a standstill. I really wonder how the kingdom managed after the death of Leck and in the between when Bitterblue came of age. King Leck is truly a twisted, horrible person, and the repercussions of his Grace and his madness reached deep into the kingdom, but it lingered deeply in his own castle.
One of the parts I did enjoy immensely was being reunited with characters from Graceling, especially Katsa and Po. They’re adorable, and quite truly, they saved this book for me even though it wasn’t even about them. It’s obvious Bitterblue relied heavily on her friends, and I genuinely appreciated the loyalty they had for one another. As for Bitterblue’s household staff and her advisors, how their relationships crumbled made me incredibly sad. These were men who knew Bitterblue when she was young, and they also worked for Leck. But they were secretive, and like I said earlier, kept important information about Monsea from their queen.
As for Bitterblue, I’m not sure how I feel about her. I feel as if she doesn’t accomplish a lot. Many things are done for her, and she has little part in it. I appreciate how patient she was with Death, the librarian, despite how cold he was toward her. I liked the relationship Bitterblue developed with her people, especially one family in particular. I wasn’t convinced of her relationship with Saf. Maybe because it started out on rocky ground.
Bitterblue does face a lot of heartbreak in this book, though. Whether it comes from her friends or from her advisors, Bitterblue does have a strong mind. While we do see her break a few times, overall, it’s completely understandable. I did enjoy this series, but I don’t think it’s something I’d add to my own library since I wasn’t completely enraptured with the entire series.