The series is set in a land comprising seven kingdoms. In the first book, Graceling, we meet humans called Gracelings who have two different colored eyes and have a special power, or "grace." Some graces are more powerful than others. For example, some are excellent archers, fighters, or mind readers, which makes them very useful in the seven kingdoms.
Eighteen-year-old Katsa lives in the Middluns. Her grace is killing, and her power hungry uncle, King Randa uses her as a puppet to hurt people who have wronged him in some way. Katsa's reputation as a killer instills fear among those who come across her, but Katsa is not proud of how her uncle uses her and secretly starts an organization designed to help people who have been wronged by King Randa and other rulers of the seven kingdoms.
The organization leads secret missions, and it is during one of these missions that meets Po, a Graceling who is graced with combat skills. Together, they go on a dangerous mission that not only changes both of their lives but the lives of people in the seven kingdoms.
Fire takes place about 50 years before the events of Graceling and is set in The Dells, a kingdom separate from and unknown to the seven kingdoms in Graceling. The Dells includes a host of new characters, including the title character, Fire, a beautiful "monster" who has the power to control the the thoughts of others. War is coming to The Dells, and Fire decides to leave a life of comfort and relative seclusion to help the young King Nash hold on to the throne. Along the way, Fire finds love, learns more about her past, and overcomes a host of life-changing challenges. Also, we learn the history of King Leck of Monsea, the evil king in Graceling.
In Bitterblue, it has been eight years since the events in Graceling. Young Bitterblue is the Queen of Monsea and for the past eight years, has relied heavily on the guidance of her advisors - advisors who were influenced by her mind-controlling father, the late King Leck. Seeking freedom from the confines of the palace, Bitterblue begins sneaking out in the middle of the night. During these explorations of the city, Bitterblue meets people who will change her life and who help her change the city that has been under the control of her father for years. This book ties up a lot of loose ends from the previous two, resulting in a satisfying ending to the story of the seven kingdoms and The Dells.
I really enjoyed all three books for many reasons, but these are the top three:
- Strong Female Characters - Katsa, Fire, and Bitterblue are so different, but they are alike in two ways - they are strong and intelligent. They have diverse talents and each one faces and overcomes difficult obstacles.
- Powerful Writing - Kristin Cashore weaves together powerful stores full of detail and beautiful writing. Her descriptions of the world the people live in and the characters themselves are fascinating.
- Compelling Stories - All three books are unique and include story lines that I could immediately fall into. Victorious, heart-wrenching, and fascinating are three words I'd use to describe all three stories. I highly recommend them.
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