Series: Graceling #3
Published by Pengiun Group on 5/1/2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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Enter the Graceling Realm and let it work its magic . . .
When Queen Bitterblue took the throne of Monsea, she was a child, and her advisers ran the kngdom for her. Now she is beginning to question their decisions, especially how they handle the legacy of her father Leck, who who ruled through his Grace—a special talent for mind-altering—and his taste for darkness and violence. Bitterblue needs to know Monsea’s past to lead it into the future, so she begins exploring the city sreets at night, disguised and alone. As she does, she meets two thieves, who hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
Bitterblue is unforgettable—a gateway to the Graceling Realm that braids together magic, memory, and romance.
Bitterblue is the third novel in the Graceling series. The princess must struggle to piece together her kingdom after the disastrous rule of King Leck. While she struggles to restore her kingdom and learn the truth of the past, other forces are working to erase the truth and anyone who seeks to find it. She is constantly torn between who she can trust and who she can’t, and spends much of the book on a question to unravel the mysteries of who is trying to suppress the truth, and who Leck really was.
I really enjoyed Graceling, and to a lesser extent, Fire. The third book was fairly enjoyable and definitely a book I couldn’t put down. I had no trouble progressing through the book and it really felt well written and polished. I really felt for Bitterblue, her feelings, and the disorientation and mystery of what was happening around her. Her thoughts and feelings were never unbelievable and it was a very engrossing fantasy.
The entire novel takes place within her castle and the city surrounding it. There are events happening outside of it which are told via other characters who return from journeys. The world building is great and there are a lot of reveals about who Leck was, the world to the East, what happened during his reign, etc. Katsa, Po, and Fire all return in the novel which is great to tie everything together.
But there were a few things that keep me from rating the novel a 5 star. For me, a fantasy should bring me out of this world and put me into another world. It should be an escape. It should keep me engrossed within that world, and everything that happens should be believable within that world. Things mentioned in the book should directly relate to the story or should setup a payoff later. Now what we have with this novel (and to a lesser extent in the other two) is the author inserting social issues or controversial topics just for the heck of it. We have morning-after contraception, lesbians, homosexuality, etc. which did nothing but pull the reader out of the story. If the story did not have these elements it would have been a stronger fantasy and lost nothing because of it. There were also a few places where I think it went way beyond YA with discussion of torture, rape, murder, etc. And lastly, there was a nice listing of characters and some maps at the end of the book. It would have made more sense to put these at the beginning so it would have reminded readers of stuff from the first two books, and the maps probably would have been better inserted into sections of the book that actually discussed the geography of the castle, etc.
Overall it was a page turner and it wrapped up the Graceling series nicely. I did enjoy it, and it isn’t a terrible book. But it is not as good as it could have been.