Two thieves, who only 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, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart. (From Goodreads)
Let me begin by saying that I really enjoyed the first two books in the Graceling realm. It's hard to believe that about three years have gone by between the publication of Fire and Bitterblue. Unlike many books, these books left an impression on me that didn't fade over those three years.
The book itself has jumped ahead a number of years, and focuses on Bitterblue, now grown and struggling in her rule over Monsea. Her advisors seem to be keeping things from her, she hasn't really had a chance to explore her own city, and memories of the past haunt her. This book felt a fair bit darker than the previous two, and it worked well within the story. It also focused less on action, and more on the repercussions of Leck's rule. I love that Leck was still a villain, despite not being physically present in the book. In the first two books I was just hoping from Katsa and Po to take him down. In Bitterblue I really got to see the extent of the damage he did. He altered tradition, built onto the city, and violated the minds of those he ruled. Yes, there are other villains in this book, but Leck remains the worst villain in the story. I mean, how much more real can you get?!
Bitterblue is trying to deal with the devastation that her father caused, but she isn't really getting far by attempting to work through problems via her advisors. We are treated to many new experiences as Bitterblue travels around her city, and it really gave a feel for the dire state of things. It added an urgency to her need to take control of Monsea. In contrast to many other stories, the unsavory characters aren't the thieves and ruffians. It's those you think you can trust who betray you.
Overall, a satisfying end to the series. I was pleased that I once again got to see the characters that I loved. Plus, Cashore did an amazing job with the post-Leck Monsea.
Published by Dial