Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

After 35 years under the harsh rule of Leck, the kingdom of Monsea is now ruled by his daughter, Bitterblue.  While she knows that her father was a terrible man who used his ability to control others thoughts for his personal benefit she is only beginning to understand the cruel, sociopathic things that did to his people and forced them to do to one another.  Unable to trust her closest advisors, she takes to discovering what lies beyond the palace walls during secret middle of the night adventures.  As she begins to learn more about her kingdom, she is horrified and becomes determined to make changes to right past wrongs.

Set eight years after Cashore's debut, Bitterblue continues the story that readers first encountered in Graceling.  Though set in a different kingdom (Monsea instead of the Middluns), the beloved characters from Graceling - Katsa and Po, Raffin and Bann - pop in and out of the story, offering Bitterblue their friendship and counsel.  Fans of companion novel Fire are also in for a treat with a cameo appearance by that novel's title character.  Throw in themes of guilt, suffering, sexuality and ciphering and you've got a novel that complements Cashore's other works without covering the same ground over and over again.  Unlike Graceling and Fire, the action of this story lies less in hand to hand combat and more in uncovering secrets through disguise and discovering and cracking the code on encrypted writings.  Though it wasn't as action-packed, it was still a satisfying story with enough intrigue to keep the pages turning and Cashore's trademark social commentary woven in.  Fantasy for fantasy fans and foes alike.  Recommended...but read the other two books first!

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