I’ve blogged about this book before, but you can't recommend a great book too many times. If you’re looking for what the Fantasy genre does best (Adventure! Politics! Magic!) without the things Fantasy has depressed us with too many times (Predictable quest! Misogyny! Racism!), this is the book for you.
General premise Kip’s village is attacked, and just before his mother dies, she gives Kip an exquisite dagger and tells him to avenge her. On the other side of the world, Gavin Guile, the most powerful drafter (or color magician) in the world, learns he has a son, and swoops in to save Kip from certain death. Now Gavin has to protect his new-found son from political enemies, placate his irate fiancé, keep his other secret from coming out, and stop the lands from falling back into a world war. Kip has his own decision to make: obey his mother’s wishes and kill the father who abandoned them, or help his father save the lands from destruction.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
When I read Graceling (Kristin Cashore’s first book – Bitterblue is her third, set in the same world), I loved it so much I flew across the country to attend a conference where Kristin Cashore was speaking. I’m the kind of introvert who prefers to stay home with the curtains drawn, pretending I didn't hear the phone ring, so this was quite an undertaking.
Incidentally, I’ve been to the Sirens Conference three times now, and they've done a brilliant job with each year's theme: Warriors, Faeries, Monsters (2012 will be Storytellers). If you want to meet authors, editors, readers and writers of fantasy by and/or about women, at a conference that’s not so large that you’re constantly lost, yet not so small that it feels like you’re the only one who doesn’t know everyone else, this is the one for you.
Since I haven’t read Bitterblue yet (available May 1st, for those of us not lucky enough to have ARCs), I’m borrowing the publisher’s description from Amazon:
"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."