If you have not read this book, then don't read this blog post. And if you haven't read both Graceling and Fire, then this may or may not make a hill of beans worth of sense.
Secondly, this may be a rambling rapid fire pile of mosh as my brain has not stopped firing since I closed the book.
Okay, I'll be honest. I didn't love this book as I read it. I'm not left-brained so math and ciphers are not that interesting to me. I realize what a huge job this must have been for Cashore as she wrote this and hats off indeed, but, eh, not my thing. And at first, I didn't love Bitterblue. I didn't dislike her, but I didn't feel the same kind of fiery intense character love I felt for both Katsa and Fire. I found her still young, a bit petulant, and her confusion sort of bugged me. At first. But I'll get to that later.
Monsea City wasn't as fully visualized for me as it could have been. The visuals of this city itself weren't clear. I didn't have a clear image in my head of castle to bridges to east city, even with the wood cut illustrated maps. And I wanted more of Teddy, his sister, and Saf's sister. I think there should be a companion book out of these three. (Are you listening Kristin Cashore?)
But where Kristin Cashore won me, hands down wrapped me in a blue ribbon and delivered me to reader heaven was her skillful characterization. I just kept stopping in awe of how fully she kept each of the other characters we'd learned to love, fully in character, but in a new place, a new novel. Katsa, Po, and Fire were still the characters I loved but they'd evolved. Older, different, with new things happening in their lives, but still essentially them. This is not easy as a writer. Word choice, actions, the ways characters react need to be integral to who they are. When it's done well it's a sign of a writer really knowing what she's created. And Cashore is a freakin' master.
Back to Bitterblue. So, as I said, I felt sort of lukewarm about her in comparison to strong-willed Katsa and beautiful, maternal Fire. But then Fire showed me Bitterblue through her eyes, and Bitterblue saw herself through Fire's guidance, and we all finally saw Bitterblue as queen. Truly a queen. It took the whole book for Cashore to get me to see her that way, but what I realized at the end is Kristin Cashore did that. I thought I was having my own opinions about this character but by the end I realized I'd been skillfully led through the entire trip.
Wow. Just wow.
Okay, so talk to me about this book! I can't find anyone at the conference who's finished it.