September 13, 2013

Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Reading Dates : 31 Aug 2013 - 7 Sep 2013

Comparisons Between The Last Time I read the books and Now

Re-reading my own thoughts of Graceling and Fire the first time I read the books against my feelings this time when reading Kristin Cashore's 3 books, I can't help comparing my thoughts between then and now.

What Didn't Change

Of the 3 books, Graceling remains my favorite. The story was infinitely richer and more exciting as they fought a madman possessing a Grace which turned everyone, even their closest friends into enemies. There was visible growth in the characters as they learned to accept both their own weaknesses and those whom they loved.

Po too remains my favorite character. How could I not ? Warm, passionate and sympathetic, I can easily understand why he is the Lienid's most beloved Prince and believe that those who truly know him would  forgive him his secrets in time. Sapphire's willingness to do anything Po commands while being so contrary the rest of the time was one of the very few things I found funny in Bitterblue.

My favorite couple in all 3 books was still Po and Katsa. They make a great team. I loved that they were friends first before they fell in love and started wanting more. I loved that they brought out the best in each other, trusted and believed in each other once they decided to accept each other. Most of all, I loved that they weren't afraid of being diminished by the other's strengths.

What Changed

I had thought that I understood how insidious Leck's Grace could be in Fire and Graceling, but Bitterblue opens up far more tragic consequences then I could ever have imagined. In the face of such terrors, Bitterblue's feelings of uselessness and hopelessness is one I truly sympathize with. Really, even in the end, I couldn't help doubting that the wounds left by Leck could be healed.

Still I can't say that I loved Bitterblue. Right until the end, I felt that she was as much as fault as those who were conspiring against her. Her interest in solving the puzzles around her stems much more from her desire for adventures rather than a true concern for her subjects. If she'd taken more care in her pursuit of the truth, perhaps some of the tragedies that transpires later could have been avoided.

Bitterblue, Fire and Katsa

How did the heroines of the different books fare against each other ? Its hard to decide between Fire and Katsa. Right now, Katsa definitely wins over Fire and Bitterblue.

I confess that I can't quite forgive Bitterblue for making it sound as if Po and Katsa purposely made their relationship difficult. Bitterblue also gave off the impression her search for the truth arose out of boredom and curiosity than genuine concern.

As for Fire, she spent too much time worrying over becoming a monster, so much so that it got quite annoying. Did she have to take until nearly the end of the book to realize what all the people who love her had known all along ?

Katsa was the only one that I felt showed genuine growth throughout Graceling. She too started off believing herself to be a monster and letting herself be used as such. Once she decides to change though, she does so in spectacular fashion, despite her own insecurities. My only quibble with Katsa is that I think she protests too much on the topic of marriage. Must she make such a big deal of it ?

Sapphire, Gideon, Po, Briggan and Archer

Po wins this one no contest. He is simply my favorite character in all 3 of Kristin Cashore's books. Po's sheer joy in living and determination to keep that life, won me over early on in the story. What's truly admirable about Po though is not how he uses his Grace but how he can accept that not all he learns through his Grace defines the person whose secrets he is privy to.

Archer is another favorite character of mine, faults and all. Were it possible, I'd have wished that he and Fire end up together. More, that he had been given a chance to repent his ways. In a way, Archer reminds me of Po, albeit a less honorable and understanding one. Perhaps if he were a tad less possessive and careless, he and Fire would have had a better chance.

As for Briggan, while I liked him and his solidness and dependability, he was also overshadowed by all the other characters in the book.

Giddon makes himself infinitely unlikable in Graceling. So much so that I couldn't reconcile his character in Bitterblue to the one in Graceling. Of all the recurring characters in the 3 books, I though Giddon's showed the most discontinuity. Giddon in Bitterblue felt like a totally different person to the Giddon in Graceling. So, no matter how I tried, I couldn't help feeling that Bitterblue's Giddon was a fake and not someone to be trusted.

Sapphire too was an absolute disappointment measured against all of the main characters in the 3 books. There is simply no depth to him. For almost the entire book, I failed to grasp the motivations for any of his actions. Even when he's supposed to be badly hurt by some of Bitterblue's actions, I couldn't attribute any such feeling to him. The only truly genuine emotion that I sensed from Sapphire was his devotion to his Lienid Seventh Prince.

Would I Read the Books again ?

Definitely. Especially, Graceling. I couldn't get enough of Po and Katsa and would welcome another foray into their world. I'd love to find out what happens with their revolutions and their future explorations into the new world opening to them. Bitterblue also leaves me with a sense that there are so many untold stories, both happening in the gaps between Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue and in the aftermath of whats to come.

1 comment:

  1. Graceling is definitely my favorite too. I had a lot of problems with Bitterblue the book and how she was portrayed throughout.


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