by Kristin Cashore
Plot Summary:Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle - disguised and alone - to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the 35-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
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.
Review:Oh, I so wanted to love this book! I really enjoyed Graceling and to a lesser degree, Fire, but this book, with it's political machinations and the insecure and damaged Lady Queen Bitterblue, felt slow paced and drawn out. The political intrigue at the court and in Bitterblue's kingdom took a long time to develop and although there were a lot of really well drawn characters, I still felt the story could have been shorter and still captured all the gradual unveiling of the mysteries behind Leck's 35 year rule.
I think personally Bitterblue was a major part of why I was dissatisfied with this book. She's so unsure, immature and wavering that I wanted to shake her sometimes to stop complaining. I didn't sympathize with her character very much, and I didn't really feel very invested in her romance, because they both seemed so immature and unreasonable at times. I was a little annoyed by them. There are some really great characters though and I was very sympathetic to one of Bitterblue's advisers for the things he went through and the ultimate decision he makes in the end. Katsa and Po were definitely the best part of the book - their banter and flirting, and their loyalty and capability made them strong, admirable characters that stole every scene. I hope I am not too biased since I loved Graceling!
It is interesting how everything comes together in the end - events in the previous books ties together nicely and there are facets of each book that reflect on the other, so that as a trilogy I think this series was a great accomplishment in complexity of world-building and the building of history. There is a theme in the importance of stories, and I think this series celebrates the importance of storytelling which I really identified with. The last half of the book, though still a little slow paced, had more revelations and interesting twists of plot that kept me reading, so while this is definitely not my favorite book in the series, I found it a very fitting and complete end to the mythology.