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Bitterblue
Cover of Bitterblue
Bitterblue
Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, Book 3
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The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
From the Hardcover edition.
The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.6
  • Lexile:
    790
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the cover

    Prologue

    When he grabs Mama's wrist and yanks her toward the wall-hanging like that, it must hurt. Mama doesn't cry out. She tries to hide her pain from him, but she looks back at me, and in her face, she shows me everything she feels. If Father knows she's in pain and is showing me, Father will take Mama's pain away and replace it with something else.

    He will say to Mama, "Darling, nothing's wrong. It doesn't hurt, you're not frightened," and in Mama's face I'll see her doubt, the beginnings of her confusion. He'll say, "Look at our beautiful child. Look at this beautiful room. How happy we are. Nothing is wrong. Come with me, darling." Mama will stare back at him, puzzled, and then she'll look at me, her beautiful child in this beautiful room, and her eyes will go smooth and empty, and she'll smile at how happy we are. I'll smile too, because my mind is no stronger than Mama's. I'll say, "Have fun! Come back soon!" Then Father will produce the keys that open the door behind the hanging and Mama will glide through. Thiel, tall, troubled, bewildered in the middle of the room, will bolt in after her, and Father will follow.

    When the lock slides home behind them, I'll stand there trying to remember what I was doing before all of this happened. Before Thiel, father's foremost adviser, came into Mama's rooms looking for Father. Before Thiel, holding his hands so tight at his sides that they shook, tried to tell Father something that made Father angry, so that Father stood up from the table, his papers scattering, his pen dropping, and said, "Thiel, you're a fool who cannot make sensical decisions. Come with us now. I'll show you what happens when you think for yourself." And then crossed to the sofa and grabbed Mama's wrist so fast that Mama gasped and dropped her embroidery, but did not cry out.

    "Come back soon!" I say cheerily as the hidden door closes behind them.

    I remain, staring into the sad eyes of the blue horse in the hanging. Snow gusts at the windows. I'm trying to remember what I was doing before everyone went away.

    What just happened? Why can't I remember what just happened? Why do I feel so—

    Numbers.

    Mama says that when I'm confused or can't remember, I must do arithmetic, because numbers are an anchor. She's written out problems for me so that I have them at these moments. They're here next to the papers Father has been writing in his funny, loopy script.

    46 into 1058.

    I could work it out on paper in two seconds, but Mama always tells me to work it out in my head. "Clear your mind of everything but the numbers," she says. "Pretend you're alone with the numbers in an empty room." She's taught me shortcuts. For example, 46 is almost 50, and 1058 is only a little more than 1000. 50 goes into 1000 exactly 20 times. I start there and work with what's left. A minute later, I've figured out that 46 into 1058 is 23.

    I do another one. 75 into 2850 is 38. Another. 32 into 1600 is 50.

    Oh! These are good numbers Mama has chosen. They touch my memory and build a story, for fifty is Father's age and thirty-two is Mama's. They've been married for fourteen years and I am nine and a half. Mama was a Lienid princess. Father visited the island kingdom of Lienid and chose her when she was only eighteen. He brought her here and she's never been back. She misses home, her father, her brothers and sisters, her brother Ror the king. She talks sometimes of sending me there, where I will be safe, and I cover her mouth and wrap a hand in her scarves and pull myself against her because I will not leave her.

    Am I not safe here?

    The numbers and the story are clearing my head, and it feels...

About the Author-
  • Kristin Cashore grew up in the northeast Pennsylvania countryside as the second of four daughters. She received a bachelor's degree from Williams College and a master's from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College, and she has worked as a dog runner, a packer in a candy factory, an editorial assistant, a legal assistant, and a freelance writer. She has lived in many places (including Sydney, New York City, Boston, London, Austin, and Jacksonville, Florida), and she currently lives in the Boston area. Her epic fantasy novels set in the Graceling Realm—Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue—have won many awards and much high praise, including picks as ALA Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors Choice, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. In addition, Graceling was shortlisted for the William C. Morris Debut Award and Fire is an Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Winner.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 2, 2012
    When last seen, Bitterblue had been crowned queen of Monsea, after Katsa, the heroine of Graceling, killed her father, King Leck. (He had it coming.) Eight years have passed; Bitterblue, now 18, is in power, even as her counselors have attempted to sweep the wretched perversity of Leck’s reign under the rug. Bitterblue objects—not only because she thinks she needs to understand that history in order to lead but because she feels constrained by busy work that keeps her trapped in the castle. Spirited and frustrated, she dons a disguise, sneaks out, and quickly befriends a printer and a handsome thief. Complications, naturally, ensue. Her romance and growth into the role of queen are among the best parts of this sprawling story, which brings forward (but does not entirely resolve) plot strands from both Graceling and Fire. There are many pleasures—fans will welcome the return of Katsa and her lover, Po; Bitterblue’s court includes Death (rhymes with teeth), a dour librarian graced with the ability to read fast and remember every word. Once the narrative shifts from Bitterblue’s clandestine adventures in the city to her convalescence inside the castle, the story loses some steam, even as the sick nature of Leck’s abuses are unearthed. Nonetheless, devotees of the earlier books and fans of Megan Whalen Turner’s intricate political fantasies will relish this novel of palace intrigue. Ages 14–up. Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary Agency.

  • AudioFile Magazine Xanthe Elbrick reads with insight garnered from her narration of a previous book in this series (FIRE). She infuses the prologue of this installment with the confused feelings of Bitterblue's childhood, in which she was caught between her father's cruelty and mother's comfort. Her father, who is gifted with special powers, uses them to control others. He's also told marvelous stories of fantastical worlds that seem curiously real. Now 18, Bitterblue is queen of a restless kingdom who is kept busy with meaningless paperwork when she really wants to understand her people's needs. Elbrick's crisp, precise diction and sensitive tones express Bitterblue's wide-ranging emotions and struggles. As Bitterblue navigates a palace of hidden passages and puzzling personalities, the story reveals new depths in the characters fans have grown to love. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Bitterblue
Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, Book 3
Kristin Cashore
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