Series Review: Graceling Realm (Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue)

Graceling Realm series - Graceling, Fire, BitterblueSeries are wonderful things when you love a book, and discover that there are more out (or more to come). There’s always the chance though, that the later books won’t live up to the promise shown by the first book, which is always so disappointing.

In the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore, the first book, GracelingGraceling - book 1 in the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore, is by far my favorite. The original premise, the characters, the how-will-they-get-out-of-this questions? All worked, and all had me excited to read the other two books.

FireFire - book 2 in the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore actually takes prior to Graceling, and is only loosely connected. Unfortunately that connection ruins some of the surprise or tension that might otherwise be there. If you’ve read Graceling, you know what’s going on, and you know certain things that have to happen to set up events in the first book. Reading them out of publication order isn’t the answer either – then you spoil some of the surprise in the first book. Either way you’re going to be not surprised in one of the books.

As with Graceling, I enjoyed some of the characters in Fire quite a bit, as well as the setup. One of the big plot reveals seemed fairly obvious, so it lost out on a bit of a surprise. I would have happily spent more time in this world to learn more about Fire and her life.

BitterblueBitterblue - book 3 in the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore is clearly the final book, taking place about 8 years after Graceling ends. It somewhat wraps up the loose ends from Fire as well, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you’ve read Graceling first. Overall though, I found it rather disappointing. I know Bitterblue is young, but she seems foolish and her relatives/advisers seem oblivious to the challenges that surround her. The plot drags and after finishing it, I’m struggling to recall what all happened in it. So dull, and such a let down.

Heads-up: books are classified as young adult titles, and I’d likely keep them for older teens only. There’s a fair amount of violence and brutality, and some sexual content, especially in the first books. Nothing is described in detail, but it’s either treated fairly casually, or is non-consensual, so I wouldn’t cavalierly hand these off to younger readers.

Would I recommend these to just anyone? No, probably not. If you’re a die-hard fantasy fan looking for a new series, you may enjoy these. But if you’re a die-hard fantasy fan, you’ve likely already heard of these. I might cautiously suggest GracelingGraceling - book 1 in the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore or FireFire - book 2 in the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore for new to fantasy readers. The world-building is thinner than some fantasy tales, but that might be a plus to someone new to the genre who doesn’t want to dive into a super complex setting. In other words, you can finish the book and not feel like you have to read 10 more to finish the story.

[Read more…]