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Bitterblue (Graceling) by Kristin Cashore
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1,5761374,633 (4.07)237
Title:Bitterblue (Graceling)
Authors:Kristin Cashore
Other authors:Ian Schoenherr (Illustrator)
Info:Dial (2012), Hardcover, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:ARC, read in 2012, sff, ya

Work details

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

  1. 121
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Cpassmore)
  2. 111
    Fire by Kristin Cashore (Anonymous user)
  3. 31
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  5. 10
    Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For inheriting the shattered remains of a kingdom.
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English (138)  German (2)  All languages (140)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
@bitterblue +fire ( )
  Lorem | Oct 2, 2015 |
Wonderful story and characters. I wasn't impressed with this one on my first reading, but I read it again for class last year and absolutely loved it. Has a great librarian character! ( )
  Dandeggan | Jun 26, 2015 |
[Note on format: This was my first time using a Playaway (Bitterblue was not available on CD or in mp3 from Overdrive). It worked okay mostly, but I checked out the print book also, for name and place spellings, and Ashen's embroidery symbols and Leck's Dellian script. There are also illustrations of the bridges, and a map.]

Queen Bitterblue doesn't feel like a queen; she doesn't feel that she truly has control over Monsea, but she doesn't realize just how much she doesn't know until she sneaks out of the castle in disguise one night and begins to explore the city on her own. Outside the castle, Bitterblue discovers the story rooms, where fablers tell tales from Leck's reign, and she meets Teddy and Saf, truth seekers. She quickly realizes that her trusted advisors haven't been completely straight with her about the condition of the city or its citizens, and she wants to make things right, but feels helpless. Bitterblue begins to explore inside the castle too, and discovers the library and Death (rhymes with "teeth"), the librarian, who is Graced with fast reading and perfect memory.

She also calls on her friends for support, including Council members Katsa, Po, Helda, Giddon, Bann, and Raffin. She learns that her mother Ashen embroidered in cipher, and begins to decode the messages Ashen left in her sheets and pillowcases; she also discovers Leck's journals, which are written in a completely new language that Death helps to decode. But it's not until a strange contingent from the east arrives that all of the pieces at last click into place.

Bitterblue was completely satisfying - a worthy sequel to Graceling and companion to Fire. I am sad to be finished reading them and I suspect I'll re-read at least Graceling.

I particularly loved the part where Bitterblue realizes that Leck's symbol alphabet is actually another language from another land; it reminded me of Jonas seeing color for the first time in The Giver.


"Leck is still lodged in too many people's minds....His Grace is a sickness that lingers, a nightmare you must help people to forget." (King Ror of Lienid to Bitterblue, 19)

"The trouble lies with the blanket pardons, Lady Queen. The blanket pardons, and the impossibility of ever proving, beyond doubt, that those who stole, stole for Leck and not for themselves." (Thiel to Bitterblue, 123)

"Truths are dangerous."
"Then why are you writing them in a book?"
"To catch them between the pages, and trap them before they disappear."
"If they're dangerous, why not let them disappear?"
"Because when truths disappear, they leave behind blank spaces, and that is also dangerous." (Teddy and Bitterblue, 173)

"Leck burned books?" (Bitterblue to Death (rhymes with Teeth) the librarian, 178)

She studied him for a moment, searching for an opening in the fortress of his face... (Bitterblue and Thiel, 186)

"Perhaps your Grace is fearlessness," she said.
"I'm afraid of plenty of things," he said. "I just do them anyway." (Bitterblue and Sapphire, aka Saf, 205)

"I never wished I was a mind reader before I knew you." (Saf to Bitterblue, 207)

"I don't believe I quite appreciated it before."
"Yes," Po said. "Well. Money does that. It's one of the privileges of wealth never to have to think about it, and one of the dangers too." (Bitterblue and Po, 269)

"But that's how memory works," Bitterblue said quietly. "Things disappear without your permission, then come back again without your permission." And sometimes they come back incomplete and warped. (Bitterblue to Helda, 316)

"I'm sorry, Lady Queen," she whispered. "It's hard not to hide. I'm so used to it."
"Perhaps it was unfair of me to ask."
"But it's a relief, Lady Queen," she whispered, "to let someone see me." (Hava and Bitterblue, 346)

"What I want is what I thought I had." (Saf to Bitterblue, 354)

"Every configuration of people is an entirely new universe unto itself." (Bann to Bitterblue, 375)

"It breaks my heart sometimes," Bitterblue said, "the things I can't remember..."
"One of Leck's cruelest legacies is that he left us unable to remember some things and unable to forget others. We are not masters of our minds." (Bitterblue and Thiel, 390)

"There are no limits to the ways people you think you know can astonish you." (healer Madlen to Bitterblue, 391)

Was there a right thing to do? Or only a thousand wrong things? (Bitterblue with Death, 407)

Well, none of it would ever end if she was too afraid for it to begin. (Bitterblue about to begin reading Leck's translated diary, 431)

"But it's history, Lady Queen," said Death.
"But, it's not," Bitterblue said. "In a hundred years it will be history. Now it's our own story."
"Our own story is even more important for us to know than history, Lady Queen." (Death and Bitterblue, 440)

"It wasn't fair that nearly a decade after his death, Leck was still killing people. Leck was still tormenting the same people he'd tormented; people were committing appalling acts in order to erase the appalling acts they'd already committed. (486)

"He accidentally filled [the castle] with art that tells the truth." (Bitterblue to Fire, 522)

My kingdom's challenge, she thought, is to balance knowing with healing. (537) ( )
  JennyArch | May 28, 2015 |
I want to love everything about these books, but they just keep coming up a little short for me. Yes, I appreciate that Cashore is writing young adult fantasy romances that turns the tropes of all three genres on their heads, but my appreciation can't cover awkward dialogue, inconsistent characters, and plots that make me feel like I'm on a treadmill.

So close! And yet so far. ( )
  CherieDooryard | Jan 20, 2015 |
I enjoyed this the best of the three, mostly for Bitterblue herself, for the prose, and for the complicated, rich relationships between the characters.
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kristin Cashoreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elbrick, XantheNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kelly, JenniferDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schoenherr, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
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 thirty-five-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.
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Eighteen-year-old Bitterblue, queen of Monsea, realizes her heavy responsibility and the futility of relying on advisors who surround her with lies as she tries to help her people to heal from the thirty-five-year spell cast by her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities.… (more)

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