I got Bitterblue on Thursday and finished it last night. Considering it’s over five hundred pages long, I think you can tell I enjoyed it. If you haven’t read the book yet, I’d advise you not to read: I imagine there will be spoilers in this!
I loved Bitterblue. I can definitely see why it took Kristin Cashore so long to write, because honestly, it’s a very complicated book. I don’t think it’s the sort of book that’s easy to simply pick up and read if you don’t have any background of the series. If anybody were interested in Cashore’s work, I’d recommend that you go back and reading Graceling and Fire before reading Bitterblue, because both books heavily influence what happens in Bitterblue.
It was fantastic to get lost in Cashore’s world again. It sucks you in, and I really liked Bitterblue as the main character. A lot of other people have said that they liked that the series finished with a human perspective, rather than a Graceling or a monster. Bitterblue is a normal, eighteen year old. She’s also the Queen of Monsea. That comes with a lot of problems, and I think Cashore portrayed Bitterblue very well.
In a way, Bitterblue was surprising because it was very focused on Leck. I didn’t expect that. But he is the thread that holds all the books together, and I think it was right that Bitterblue explored the past before moving onto the future. It was definitely a fitting end, and I love that I wasn’t disappointed by it in any way.
I wasn’t sure about Sapphire as Bitterblue’s romantic partner. I don’t think I warmed to him as much as I did Po or Brigan. But saying that, I remember when I first read Graceling and I don’t think I warmed as easily to Po either. Brigin I absolutely warmed to. Bitterblue was so packed with action, I could say that there wasn't as much romantic development as the past two books. Perhaps this is why I couldn't connect with Sapphire the way I did with the other two characters.
I liked that we got to see many characters from the past two novels. I wished we could have seen more of Katsa, and of Fire, but if they had been included more they might have overshadowed Bitterblue as the main character. I liked that Po was heavily included. Bitterblue's friendship with Giddon was nice to see too; it gave a different perspective of his character than the one seen in Graceling. Also, it surprisingly emerged that a few characters were gay. There was no fanfare. No dramatic reveal. It was simply executed, and it was refreshing to see that in no way did this revelation alter their character. I know homosexuality has been pretty contraversial recently, both in Britain and America, and one day I hope that more books will include gay characters. I like to think that this reflects how gradually, homosexuality is coming to be accepted in society, which I am all for.
But back to Bitterblue. I thought Bitterblue was naive in places. Cashore made it easy not to trust her advisers, and at times I was wondering why Bitterblue didn’t take control and fire them. But saying that, I have to consider the background of her character. Her advisers have been there for her since she was ten, and she had a very limited support system. I can see why she would try to deceive herself about their true identities for as long as possible, and obviously the mystery for her was eventually uncovered. Bitterblue may be eighteen, but she had a lot to learn about the world. In many ways, she was still the ten year old girl she was when she became Queen of Monsea, struggling to understand her world. It was good to see that development throughout the book.
I would love to see more work from Cashore regarding her world, but at the same time, I would understand completely if she moved on. The Graceling series has taken years of her life. Sometimes it’s better to move on. I would like to read anything else Cashore wrote, regardless of content. She is a fantastic writer and her craft is amazing. Cashore did an incredible job with Bitterblue, and I cannot recommend this series enough.