In Graceling, we met Bitterblue, daughter of King Leck of Monsea. As we met Bitterblue, she’s just escaped the palace with her mother, because Leck’s Grace is to overshadow the minds of others, and Queen Ashen had one of her rare lucid moments, and was able to get away. She died in the attempt, but Bitterblue was rescued by her cousin Po.
Bitterblue’s grown up now, and finally declared Queen of Monsea. But it’s a broken kingdom she rules. Leck did his best to wipe out old Monsean traditions, and his old advisors, many of who are now Bitterblue’s advisers, were forced to do terrible things on Leck’s behalf, some of which they don’t even remember. And so they seem to be keeping her busy, doing nothing, to keep her from finding the truth.
That’s when Bitterblue seizes a chance to go out into the city in disguise, where she ends up meeting a thief named Saf, and his best friend Teddy. Saf and Teddy’s parents were both freedom fighters against Leck, and Bitterblue gains some intriguing hints into what her kingdom has lost from them.
What I love about these books is that they’ve all made me cry. I can’t put my finger on exactly what about these books is so moving, but they’re all so wonderfully compelling, and I genuinely care about these characters. I also really appreciated the amount of pain that was portrayed in this book. These seems the type of story where Bitterblue should be able to ride nobly into town and heal it through the force of her personality, but Bitterblue can’t do that. The wounds are too deep. Just such a good story about remembering, and healing, or maybe even not being able to heal.