author, bitterblue, book, book reviews, books, characters, fantasy, fiction, fire, graceling, katsa, literature, novel, plot, po, read, reader, review, stories, story, write, writer, writing, YA, young adult
These books were good, but their saving grace (sorry couldn’t resist the pun) is the unique magic system the author has created.
Certain people have mismatched eyes and are graced, meaning they have a particular skill or talent. Some talents are as simple as a skill at cooking, but others are more mystical such as swimming like a fish or reading minds.
Katsa has the Grace of killing. Her uncle, the king, uses her to dispense punishment to people who displease him, but Katsa’s not content to simply be her uncle’s pawn. She established the council to help people in trouble when the kings make unjust decisions. She thought she’d be alone, but the council has expanded and now spans the seven kingdoms. The council does things such as shelter farmers who are being punished for not paying their taxes after the king’s men trampled their crops.
On one such mission for the council, Katsa goes to rescue the father of one of the kings who has been kidnapped. There she meets a young man who has the grace of fighting. She knocks him unconscious and returns to her kingdom with the kidnapped man only to have the graced fighter show up at her king’s court. The man’s name is Po and the man who was kidnapped is his grandfather and he’s here to rescue him.
Deciding to trust this young man, whose silver and gold eyes have a disarming effect on Katsa, the council tries to figure out who kidnapped his grandfather.
The first half of Graceling is quick paced and interesting. Then the characters go on a journey and it becomes a series of traveling and running. I’ve read lots of fantasy so I’m accustomed to such ‘journey’ novels, but it caught me off guard after the exciting beginning.
At around 50% there’s a sex scene making this an older YA novel, though you can see it coming and it’s easy enough to skip.
Fire is set in the same world as Graceling, but in a different place. In the land of Dell there are brightly colored animals, called monsters. They have the ability to bewitch people with their beauty and ensnare people’s minds. Fire is the only human monster, a girl of seventeen with hair the color of living fire. Fire’s father was the adviser to the king and an evil man. Most people hate her because of her father or fear her for her power.
I recommend reading the prologue as an epilogue (or at least after chapter 27) I think this will make Fire a better book, because you won’t know what’s coming.
The love story in Fire is slower to get started than Graceling, but still felt too sudden, because of things happening off page. (I would’ve preferred if she won him over herself gradually.)
Fire was a good character for about the first 70% of the book. She was a tough young woman similar to Katsa, but different enough to still come off as her own person. Then the character I’d been rooting for and liking for the majority of the book turned into a moody weakling. I only wish the author had ended things differently, but I suppose it’s more realistic this way.
Bitterblue is eighteen and the queen of an entire country. Her days are filled shuffling endless stacks of paper. One night she decides to sneak out of the castle and see what her kingdom is really like. She discovers that people are still recovering from her father’s reign of terror, but things are worse than she thought.
She meets a pair of boys who work at a printing press. Are they thieves? What are they up to? They have many secrets, but she’s not exactly honest with them either, pretending she’s only a baker in the castle’s kitchen.
In a world with Graceling magical powers, Bitterblue is just a normal girl. She might be a queen, but I wish she had some sort of special ability.
The high point of this book is seeing the old characters from Graceling, particularly Po. All of the excitement with the council takes place off page in this book, because like the first two books, it’s told from a single viewpoint. I wished we could go with Katsa and Po instead of being stuck in the castle with Bitterblue. I liked Bitterblue in Graceling, but life as a queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and life in the castle is dull and frustrating. I felt your pain Bitterblue!
Like Fire (where I kept reading to see how Fire would win Brigan over) I kept reading Bitterblue to see how her friends would find out she’s actually the queen. The revelation was much better than Fire and was probably my favorite part of the book.
The author ties the books together nicely, but I wanted an epilogue to tie up all the loose ends. Maybe the author wanted to leave it open for another book.
The best part of the book was the glossary. (Odd, but true.) It’s ‘written’ by the librarian in the book Death (pronounced like Teeth). I wish the rest of the book was told with such a good voice! I chuckled a couple of times while reading it and not at all during the third book.
I liked the witty lines in the beginnings of these books and watching the characters meet. I only wish that the rest of the books were as upbeat. I liked all of the minor characters and kept wishing to see more of them, especially the villain.
The world building is simple until we get to Dell in Fire, but there are enough details for it to feel like a real world.
If you’re one of those ‘show’ don’t ‘tell’ people the first two books might annoy you. The author tells a lot and it sometimes feels like we’re missing some good stuff. By Bitterblue she’s figured out how to tell a story, still telling how time passes, but unlike the first two books it flows naturally.
If you’re curious about the Graceling books, I’d say read the first half of Graceling, that’s the best part of the trilogy.
Graceling- 7 Stars (First half 8 stars, second half 6)
Fire- 6 Stars (Same, First half 7 stars, second half 5)
Bitterblue- 6 Stars (whole book consistent)
What was the last sad book that you read?