Friday, June 15, 2012

Crushing on some Cashore

Thanks to the book that changed my mind about the fantasy genre, a certain Faery, and the givers over at Hachette, I've been spending my solo leisure time in fantasy realms for the past week and half.  Me, who preferred to kick it in dystopia, or among English landed gentry, or even inside a spaceship -- anywhere that was away from a door in the shire that took 13 pages to describe.  I was 8 or 9 when I tried The Hobbit...I should give it a second chance.

Back to the fantasy trilogy I've embraced like a comfort object on a string of winter nights...
Yes, I said trilogy.  Time for bullets;
  • The thing I like most about the Graceling Realm three is the way the books are connected; instead of following a single protagonist through a larger story in three chronological chunks (or two chunks with watery vomit in the middle), Cashore has created three interwoven tales that compliment each other, but as stand alone stories with a beginning, middle and end -- each with a different heroine.
  • And the heroines are strong.  They're game-changers.  I was intrigued by each, and found all three to be very different from me and from each other.  The first book is the only one not to bear its leading lady for its title, so I'll tell ya, that's Katsa on the cover.  Look at her go.
  • I love the UK/AUS/NZ covers (see the U.S. line-up, below).
  • Huzzah for relevant female imagery being used as cover art.  Covers matter to me.  I can look beyond them, to be sure...but if I'm to buy a book, I will order from Amazon if I like another cover better (namely, if an alternative cover is less suggestive, or perhaps more as I had imagined a character to look...or to avoid when they're just wrong e.g. one of the Asian manga-style illustrations with a blonde .  P.S.  In this vein, I can't stop thinking on this ripper post.
  • Reading all three in quick succession certainly fostered greater fondness -- a compensation blessing for clambering aboard the bandwagon late.
Graceling, Kristen Cashore
  • I dig the Graceling concept (some humans are graced with special abilities, and this is manifest at a young age, and physically flagged by unmatching eyes).  
  • The love interest is worthy!  Hallelujah!  (See, I 'd go with Peeta over Gale, Jacob over Edward, Xander over Ky...)
  • The heroine is okay.  There's a few messages transmitted through her that I'm not a big fan of...but I can see how these notions are in keeping with her character. 

Fire, Kristen Cashore
  • The first chapter was easier to survive when read back-to-back with the first book.  It's not a fair indication of how things will play out.  Stick with it.
  • A reinvention of the beauty as burden theme, done well. 
  • A Quirky realm.
  • Strong writing.
  • Not middle-book dross, simply not. not. not.  You know, I liked it more than Graceling.  Yup, I did.  Fire is more likeable than Katsa, for a start...and her love story plays out better too.
  • **Again, how it is connected to the first book -- big plus.  I savoured scenes describing characters shared between books -- having the back story for what would otherwise be extras?  Glorious.
Bitterblue, Kristen Cashore
  • Less romance, more mystery, politics and intrigue...which I liked more than I thought I would.
  • There are a few sickening things (in order to illustrate the evil of the villain).
  • There's a large list of players...perhaps just a couple could have been culled?  Amalgamated?
  • See **.
I found these three books enthralling, plot-rich and satisfying.  Huzzah!
I wouldn't read them with youngsters, however, due to the violence, sordid characters and sexual references (nothing too overt, but there are definitely references).

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