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This book is a continuation of a series, following on from "Graceling" and its prequel "Fire." I was extremely impressed by the way in which the author dealt with the aftermath of the events in Graceling. Given what had happened prior to the book's opening, the mysteries and problems discovered by Bitterblue in her fractured kingdom, and her gradual search for answers, all felt very authentic and relevant to things that happen in our world too. Though beautifully written and very entertaining, this isn't a simplistic tale in which a young heroine goes from one adventure to another for their own sake; there's real logic, and also a lot of heart and soul, to this story.
One point is that I sometimes see this described as a young adult novel. I suppose other novels read avidly by adults worldwide (Harry Potter comes to mind) are also described in that way, but the subject matter was often quite complex and sometimes very dark, even more so I think than the previous books in the series, and it didn't feel as if it was aimed at young adults in particular. (And it was certainly far, FAR superior to the numerous 'high schooler meets vampire' books filling the young adult shelves ;)
The narrator did a very good job too. The regional British accents (for each kingdom) did take a little getting used to, particularly having listened to a full cast recording of "Graceling" (in which Katsa does not have a brisk Scottish accent and Po is not Irish!) but on balance I think it was a clever choice. Also, all too often anyone heroic and/or a love interest is given a sort of bland 'Oxford' English accent (like Bitterblue's), but Sapphire's accent was north country and I thought it was a welcome change! (Though I could question why his accent wasn't the same as Po's, since they were both Leonid, and why one character from Katsa's kingdom didn't have a Scottish accent... but that's not really important I guess ;) The main point is that the accents were a clever concept, and didn't bother me once I got used to them. I'm from southern England myself and have a terrible ear for accents, so I am probably not the best judge of whether the Scottish accent was perfect or would have driven a Scottish person crazy, etc.... but then again, this is a fantasy set in another world, so I suppose it only matters that they were consistent ;-}
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I'm not completely finished with this book yet (just started Part IV), but I have some issues I feel the need to voice.
#1. When did Katsa and Po become Irish? I get that Xanthe Elbrick did not narrate Graceling, but she did narrate Fire. And I understand different narrators are not going to have the same exact accents or voices as prior narrators. However, I think it's a narrator's responsibility to try to be somewhat consistent with character voices, whether or not they did the original book's narration. I find it very distracting that Katsa suddenly sounds like a middle-aged Irish woman and Po suddenly sounds like a teenage Irish boy-man. Luckily, they aren't the main characters of this book, so I can block it out somewhat, but it's totally distracting. I do like her interpretation of Bitterblue, though.
#2. On the part of the author, I get that Bitterblue is the main character of this story, but she has so much of Katsa and Po in this story as supportive characters that you'd think she'd stay consistent with their personalities. It's been 9 years. If anything, Katsa and Po should have matured more. Instead, I feel like they've backpeddled and act more like children than the 18 year old Bitterblue. And when did they both become so whiney?
#3. I like Bitterblue's character, alot. She does take some stupid risks with her own safety, but I am enjoying following as she matures both emotionally and intellectually as a queen, not just a girl. She's not physically bad a** like Katsa or Fire (afterall, Bitterblue is merely human), but I respect her as a maturing woman much more.
#4. The story definitely drags on during Part III. I felt this way through a chunk of Fire as well. I hope Part IV really picks up alot. Not only in the action department, but also in the romance department.
#5. I don't feel the same for Bitterblue and her romantic interest as I did in Graceling for Katsa and Po, and in Fire for Fire and Brigan. In both of the prior books, I was rooting for the romance. In Bitterblue's case, I don't really feel the same development or yearning for Bitterblue and her love interest to be together. Actually, I'm rooting for Bitterblue to fall for someone else who isn't the obvious match.
#6. I do really like how the author is weaving the world of Graceling and the world of Fire into this third book. Bitterblue's world definitely is tying the two worlds of the prior books together. Like I said, I haven't finished this book yet, but I'm hoping for another installment where these two worlds collide head on.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful