Published May 1st, 2012 by Dial
Third book in the Graceling Realm series.
When we last saw Bitterblue back in Graceling, she was very young, recently orphaned, and the new Queen of Monsea. Now, she is eighteen, and spends her days signing paperwork and witnessing the odd criminal trial, while her advisors do all the real work.
Monsea is still in a sort of confused hazy state, due to King Leck’s evil reign. It’s not until Bitterblue begins sneaking out of the castle at night that she realises that her advisors (who were also around in Leck’s days) hide the truth of her Kingdom from her. One illicit after hours trip has shown her more than all her well planned, advisor approved tours of Bitterblue City.
She also meets Saf, his friend Teddy and their two sisters. Using an alias, she becomes a friend to the two boys, and grows even closer than that to Saf.
Bitterblue yearns to heal her hurting kingdom. But to do that she must first uncover the truth. What was her father, King Leck, really up to? How many of his crimes were physically committed by him, and how many did he force others to commit? Are there still loyal Leck followers out there, itching to get at Bitterblue?
Bitterblue was great. It is the third book in this series, and possibly the last. It ties up Leck’s loose ends quite well. It was interesting, because he is kind of at the centre of all three books – the first and third more so, but he still features quite prominently in Fire – without actually being a main character (or even alive, some of the time!). He’s sort of like a theme, rather than a character, if you get what I’m saying.
I enjoyed reading from Bitterblue’s point of view. She’s the queen, but she’s surrounded by people who do all her work for her and basically control, or at least manipulate, all her actions. It’s no wonder she started sneaking out. It’s not an entirely original concept (see Disney’s Aladdin for starters), but it’s a golden oldie.
My copy is in hardback, and it is seriously beautiful. There’s a heap of bridge drawings and maps in the back, as well as these gorgeous pictures for each part (part one, part two, etc – to be clear!). I don’t know if the paperback is as nice or not, but I am in deep like with my copy.
Read this if you’re a Graceling Realm fan (obviously), but also if you’re a general fantasy fan. I don’t think it’s essential to read the series in order. Go for whichever order you please!