Cashore Appreciation, pt 3: Bitterblue (+News & Mini Book Review)

Fire had been my favorite for a very long time, but at some point, that favoritism shifted to Kristin Cashore’s final book in her series, Bitterblue. I loved this book for many of the same reasons that I loved the first two: it provoked down-to-earth thoughts regarding things we probably wouldn’t think about. The progression of the plot was brilliant, bringing all three books together. And the writing was just brilliant.

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Left to right: Bitterblue, Katsa, Fire. Amazing artwork by meabhdeloughry on DeviantArt (Original link: https://meabhdeloughry.deviantart.com/art/Graceling-Ladies-466855374)

Regarding Leck. A villainous character for all three books. In Fire, he’s just a little boy with mismatched eyes, playing a small but still important role. In Graceling, Katsa and Po don’t even go against him until well past halfway through the book, but it’s a good thing, too. His Grace — his magic ability — is that every person believes what words come out of his mouth. More than that, his Grace allows him to make a person’s mind “foggy” so taht they do whatever he told them to do. And, unfortunately, he uses it for terrible, terrible ends.

(Warning, some small spoilers ahead)

But he meets his end in Graceling, and Bitterblue is in large part about dealing with that kind of traumatic situation. Bitterblue herself was still kind of young when she escaped in Graceling and found safety with Katsa. She doesn’t know all of the pieces, or what happened, but now that she’s an adult, she’s trying to figure it out so her country can heal from those horrors. When something bad happens, though, there are two responses: facing and accepting what had happened, or pretend it never did. The conflict in this third story is mostly about a group of desperate but unidentified people who try to block Bitterblue’s progressiveness for accepting what had happened.

And, important for Bitterblue’s quest for truth is the amazing Teddy and Saph. She dresses up in commoner clothes so she can see her city as it is, rather than as her advisors want her to see it, and in the process meets the two thieves. There’s the issue of power, because Bitterblue is queen, and Saph is not, and when he learns the truth, Bitterblue doesn’t understand for a little while why he might be mad. The romances are a fairly large reason I love Cashore’s books, actually. Not because I’m a big fan of romance plots (I’m sure you know I’m not, if you have read some of my other posts), but because she does it in a very natural way. It does not feel fake, or forced, or “just for plot,” not in any of them. Which is the right way to do it.

Finally, the thing I really love most about Kristin Cashore (which I’ve said before, but will expand upon now) is her willingness to write diverse characters. It is implied that Fire is a darker-skinned character (It’s only mentioned once, maybe twice, but perhaps it’s better that way, because for her, it’s not even worth noting, because everyone is like that). There are a few characters who prefer the company of their own gender. Po’s brother. Teddy’s sister. RAFFIN AND BANN. Po becomes blind in Graceling. And his Grace makes up for that, to some extent, because he’s able to sense his surroundings pretty well. But when Cashore was told that she was doing what many authors did — use magic to basically make up for the character’s disability — she actually tried to backtrack a little so that she was more respectful of the issue. Obviously, she couldn’t undo the facts laid down in Graceling (how Po’s Grace allowed him to fill in his surroundings), but she made a point of showing the limitations of Po’s Grace. Which, I think, earns her some respect.

Anyway, those are the main reasons, but there are just so many things I love about Cashore, and I can’t say them all for fear of spoiling some of the greatest stuff.

News

Last January, I did a total makeover for TMC, not really liking how it was originally. I like my posts here, but frankly, feel like other options may hold some more potential. So I have some news for you. Come January 1st, I’ll be doing a new kind of post on TMC, and I hope you’ll enjoy it even more than you’ve enjoyed these posts. The content of the new posts are a New Years surprise, but I’ll be putting up some more information as January draws nearer.

I will also be making my author site, www.katiebachelder.com, more active. It used to contain short stories that I wrote, but (hint, hint) that’ll be fairly similar to what I’m doing here. So I’m going to instead post occasional updates on my works in progress, Dire Fate and the like, or post struggles of writing, etc. And I might write a few posts just about writing in general, like I’ve been doing here. TMC will remain a twice-a-month blogging schedule. My author’s site will likely be more sporadic, but I’ll try to post at least somewhat regularly there.

And, if you like the book reviews I do, I’m going to start posting them exclusively on Goodreads. If you have an account there, you can add me as a friend (search up my name in the Friend’s search, or click my link: Katie Bachelder). I want to be able to put more in-depth reviews up, but they’d too lengthy to do multiple in a blog post. Hence, moving to Goodreads. However, if I can find some way to at least link the reviews onto blog posts, I’ll put them on my author’s site posts as they come, for convenience’s sake.

Final news! Be on the lookout around Christmas Day, because I’ll be posting one last thing, as a gift to you guys. It’ll just be a fun little creative essay type thing that I’m slowly working on in my spare time. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy.

Book Review

One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2)

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Author: Kendare Blake

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5 stars

I really liked this book, to be honest. The pacing was spot-on, far better than it had been in the first book, and all of the characters were unbelievably well-written. Well, all of the main characters. Some of the lesser characters (Bree and Elizabeth, namely) I still get confused as to who is who. But Billy? Creepy Nicholas? Certainly the three sisters. And let’s take a moment to appreciate the world-building here. There were a lot of questions to be answered from book 1. I think most of the potential-plot-holes were  addressed in this book. Like how Arsinoe can be what she is, etc. I’m still banking on Katherine being an unaware Naturalist. Also, I devoured the whole book, tbh, but that ending was insane. Especially Natalia. I’m confused about Joseph, though. That bit was unexpected. Anyway, I’d recommend it.

Writing Prompt

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“This seems like a good time to ask you what year you think it is.”

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