This series has been on my radar for some time now, ever since Fire came out. And after reading Throne of Glass, I decided to give it a whirl and I am very glad I did! I have listed my reviews of the three books below. Don’t read the review for Bitterblue if you haven’t read Graceling yet! While not a trilogy in the true sense of the word, characters in all three novels makes appearances is the others. Each book, however, is told from a different character’s perspective. Graceling is Katsa; Fire is Fire (this is her name!) and Bitterblue is from Bitterblue’s.
In a land of 7 kingdoms, some children are born with a special ability called a grace. These children develop eyes of two colors and when it is discovered someone is graced, in most of the kingdoms, they are sent to the king for their usefulness to be determined. Katsa is niece of King Randa of the Middluns and is graced with the ability to kill. Used as a thug for her uncle, the king, Katsa has become unhappy with her role and has begun an underground spy ring to assist in cases where she believes justice is being subverted in all of the kingdoms. In doing so she stumbles on the kidnapping of a Lienid prince, the father of the current King of Lienid. Her journey to uncover the true kidnapper will teach her some truths about herself, show her what her grace truly is, as well as what the kidnapping means for the fate of the seven kingdoms. What I enjoyed most about this book (and it continues in Bitterblue) is the relationship between Katsa and Po. They love each other deeply and Cashore manages to convey that to the reader. Katsa cannot give up her independence and Po understands that and accepts her for who she is. The are evenly matched, both very strong characters, accepting of each other for who they are, flaws and all. 5 stars
A companion novel to Graceling, Fire is the last of the monster humans. Her breathtaking beauty can send both men and woman to declare their love or absolute hatred for her. If that person was already predisposed to that feeling, then their reaction when they saw her or felt her presence would bring that to the surface. She also has the ability to invade people’s minds and twist them to what she wants them to do. But she abhors this and uses it only in self-defense. Her father, a human monster, had been advisor to the king, and used his power to elevate his own wants, leaving the kingdom in ruins. Because of this, Fire lives in relative solitude in the country of the Dells, only trusting her best friend, Lord Archer and his father. But there have been strangers lurking in their woods, with foggy minds that Fire cannot quite grasp. To find answers, they must visit the queen and while there, Fire must decide if she will stay and help the young King Nash, who has inherited a kingdom on the brink of war. Can she use her powers to make up for the evil her father unleashed? 5 stars
It is 8 years after the end of King Leck’s 35 year reign of terror over Monsea and 18 year old Queen Bitterblue is still scrambling to pick up the pieces her psychopathic father left the kingdom in. But who can she trust? She is slowly beginning to realize her most trusted advisors are lying to her, keeping secrets trying to protect her from truly understanding the evil her father inflicted upon his subjects and she vows to find out the truth for herself. Sneaking out of the castle each night, pretending to be a worker in the castle, Bitterblue begins to realize how little she can trust her advisers and comes to depend on her new friends outside the castle, the truth seekers, to finally understand her kingdom and it’s people.
I give this book 5 stars. Great writing, excellent character development. Po and Katsa are back, better than ever. Bitterblue is the center of all the action, however: trying to unravel the mystery that was her father; what was fact and what was fiction?; who was her mother and will Bitterblue ever be the Queen her mother knew she would be? This book is hefty, at 547 pages but was a page turner for me. If you aren’t into fantasy, especially one set in a made up world, I would give Graceling a try. Its really refreshing to see this strong, independent female characters and Cashore carries this throughout the three books with Fire and Bitterblue as well. Women who know what they want and are willing to make sacrifices to get them. This independent streak is not to say that they don’t make mistakes along the way, but that only makes the reader relate to them more easily. If you find Graceling to be to your liking, READ both Fire and Bitterblue IMMEDIATELY!!