Series Review and Giveaway : Graceling, Fire & Bitterblue – Giveaway Closed

This past Monday our department had the huge pleasure of meeting with Kristin Cashore!  You can imagine our excitement since we’re all crazy about her books and couldn’t wait to meet the genius behind the stories.  Needless to say, she did not disappoint!

In honor of Kristin’s visit, I thought I would do a review of her whole series since we have not blogged about her early works yet.  Technically these books are considered companion books, but I highly recommend reading them in the order they were published.  Also, we received an extra signed copy of Bitterblue that we are excited to give to one of our readers!  What do you have to do to win this fabulous book?  Just leave a comment about something you’ve liked about Kristin’s books, or if you haven’t had a chance to read her works yet, leave a comment and tell us what your favorite fantasy book is.  We’ll announce the winner in our post on Monday!

Graceling. 9780152063962.  2008.  Gr 9-12.

In the land of seven kingdoms, there are exceptional people with different colored eyes who are Graced.  Some may be graced with cooking, dancing, or healing, but Katsa’s grace is killing.  The fiercest warrior in all seven kingdoms, she is used as an assassin and enforcer by her cruel uncle, King of the Middlunds Kingdom.  Tired of being used by her uncle, Katsa creates a secret council to right the wrongs done by each kingdom.  During one of her missions to rescue a kidnapped old man, she meets Po, the man’s grandson and Prince of the Leneid Kingdom.  Together Katsa and Po track down the reasons why any of the seven kingdoms would kidnap an old man.  Along the journey, they discover new secrets about each other and horrifying secrets about one kingdom in particular .

I fell into this world right away, and stayed captivated throughout the entire story.  Katsa is a fierce heroine whose internal struggles were fascinating to read.  Po is definitely in my top 5 for YA male character leads.  He helps Katsa break free from her uncle and helps her better understand her grace.  Overall, this is a great start to a fantastic series.

Fire. 9780803734616.  2009.  Gr 9-12.

Set in a different land from Graceling, Fire takes place in the Dells, a kingdom on the brink of civil war.  King Nash struggles to maintain his rule over the kingdom while rebel lords in the north and south scheme to dethrone him, and thieves run rampant in the mountains and forest.  Fire lives with Lord Brocker and his son Archer far away from the King’s City and the political turmoil.  Fire is the last remaining human monster; one glimpse of her fiery-colored hair can cause the viewer to behave erratically, with either passion or hatred.  Fire also has the ability to control the minds of those around her, a talent that her father used without mercy.  Fire’s isolation ends when King Nash and his brother Brigan ask her for help to uncover a plot to overthrow the kingdom.  Together they travel to King’s City, where Fire not only helps them uncover a dangerous plot, but where she meets a peculiar boy with a similar ability.

I didn’t think I would like this book as much when I found out that Katsa and Po wouldn’t be featured, but I love Fire and Prince Brigan just as much!  Fire struggles with her abilities and her father’s nefarious legacy, while coming to realize that her abilities can be utilized for good.  Cashore creates a second land just as rich as the seven kingdoms.  This book is written as a companion, but I’m glad that I read Graceling first.

Bitterblue. 9780803734739.  2012.  Gr 9-12.

Tracey wrote a promising bloom post about this novel—and it is a promise kept!  Bitterblue takes place eight years after the events in GracelingBitterblue, now 18, is struggling to restore order to the kingdom her father destroyed.  Tired of her advisors keeping information from her, Bitterblue decides to sneak out of her castle at night dressed as a commoner and investigate how to best help her people.  During one of her outings, she meets a printer and a thief who help her try to uncover the truth about her kingdom, including the disappearances of other people who are also searching for the truth.  The farther Bitterblue gets, the more she questions who she can trust, and begins to wonder just how far this conspiracy goes in her own administration.

Bitterblue definitely has a different feel than Graceling and Fire.  There’s a little less action, and has a much more involved conspiracy theory/espionage feel to it.  Secrets abound everywhere, and just when you think you’ve got a handle on what’s going on—bam!  Cashore throws out another twist to confuse you.  Reading Bitterblue is truly like peeling an onion, uncovering layer after layer until the big “aha” moment when everything becomes clear.   Plus, Cashore features certain characters from her previous books, so it’s like meeting old friends again!  I especially loved the parts with Katsa and Po.  Overall, I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy, strong female characters, romance, or anyone who simply loves a great story!

And don’t forget to comment to win your very own signed copy of Bitterblue!!

Lindsey L.