I cannot tell you how excited I was to learn that we were going to get another book in the Graceling Realm series. If you know anything about me from my blog, it’s probably that I absolutely adore this series. It’s been eight years since Bitterblue had been published, and with the way it ended, I truly thought we weren’t going to get any more of these amazing characters. Kristin Cashore has proven me wrong in literally the best way possible.
This is What We Know:
On May 29 of this year, Kristin Cashore graced us with what might be, for me at least, one shining beacon in what will otherwise be probably known as the Worst Year of the Century. (I’m going to knock on wood right now, because I really don’t want to get into 2021 and find out that it keeps getting worse…)
Obviously, the title of the fourth book is “Winterkeep.” The link to the exclusive article is from Publishers Weekly. The article promises a new continent, Torla, and on it, the country of Winterkeep. There will be new kinds of monsters (though not the monster variety of the Dells) and telepathic foxes. It will involve some political commentary regarding pollution and global warming, but the other three Graceling Realm books all read as political to some degree, and honestly, it wouldn’t be a Cashore book without it.
The PW’s article also states that there will be five point of view characters, rather than Cashore’s traditional one. Both Bitterblue and Giddon will be two of those characters, but the other three are new: Lovisa, a girl from Winterkeep, a telepathic fox, and a scary 23-eyed sea monster. It also suggests that there will be another book in the Graceling Realm series, one that serves as a sequel of sorts to Winterkeep.
The expected publication date is January 19, 2021, and if that’s not enough to keep me going through 2020, I’m honestly not sure what would be.
The Synopsis, From Goodreads
Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.
But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.
Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.
My Hopes for Winterkeep
That Giddon/Bitterblue Romance
I know that a lot of people were disappointed because Saf and Bitterblue didn’t work out. Personally, I always thought it a good decision on Cashore’s part. Romances don’t always work out, and rarely do first romances. Considering the power discrepancies, and the lies that founded their relationship, the two weren’t a good match. But as Bitterblue‘s plot unfolded, I couldn’t help but notice a beautiful connection between Giddon and the queen of Monsea.
Admittedly, there’s an age gap. Giddon is Katsa’s age, I think, and obviously Katsa is older than Bitterblue, though by how much, I can’t remember off the top of my head. Still, I would wager there’s at least a five to eight year gap between Bitterblue and Giddon. Regardless, their chemistry was undeniable in Bitterblue, and I’m really excited to see where it’s at now, four years later. Bitterblue’s advisors constantly nagged about her getting married and having an heir in the third book, and I’m low-key hoping she hasn’t followed through with that yet so she can continue to cultivate a relationship with Giddon, one that will hopefully turn romantic.
Moving Past Leck
I hope that Cashore does not write Monsea as if it has completely erased the damage left behind from Leck’s reign. Even Bitterblue‘s conclusion promised that there remained a lot of work to be done before the country could truly heal. I want to see how all of Bitterblue’s new ministries have affected the overall well-being of Monsea’s citizens.
We Don’t Forget the Dells
Four years prior, Bitterblue got to meet with Fire. That scene hits me in the feels every single time. Even if it didn’t, though, Monsea was supposed to forge a friendly alliance with the Dells. Fire promised advice and help for Bitterblue as she continued to fix up Monsea. Considering the Dells were the new and intriguing country, I’m curious to see what effects this alliance has on Monsea. How well does she know the royal family of the Dells? Has any Dellian royal or nobleman spent any length of time in Monsea? Have Dellian monsters, perhaps, turned into a form of evasive species throughout the seven kingdoms?
Actually, I Hope We Don’t Forget Any of the Established Kingdoms
With Bitterblue’s focus suddenly turned to Torla and Winterkeep, it’d be easy to forget about the seven kingdoms. In Bitterblue, however, Katsa and her Council friends were turning the nations upside down and inside out as they deposed the corrupt kings. Even if it’s just passing mentions, I hope we get some idea of how those other seven kingdoms are now doing, and whether any of the other monarchies still exist.
Some Explanation is Given as to Why Winterkeep Has Not Found Monsea’s Continent Yet.
Winterkeep is almost futuristic compared to the medieval-esque setting of the seven kingdoms and the Dells. It’ll be interesting to see if Katsa or Po gets to interact with Winterkeep, as its democratic republic may set an example for them when they help the citizens of the seven kingdoms figure out how they want to create their governments.
In addition, it’s said they can fly on balloons. The strange 23-eyed sea creature may be what’s kept Winterkeep explorers from finding Monsea and the others, but that would imply it’s an ancient creature, almost like the kraken. And if it’s posed a problem in the past, then why are explorers suddenly able to break through and reach Torla now?
Conflicting Magic Systems
Finally, we have already seen the effects conflicting magic systems can have on two different regions. The Dells’s first contact with a Graced character was Leck, but they of course learned a lot about Graces offscreen when they were quietly exploring the seven kingdoms. And Bitterblue learning of the monster rats, and then of the monster human, caused an uproar, especially in the wake of Leck’s legacy.
With a new magic system again introduced, this time in the form of telepathy, it’ll be interesting to see how Winterkeep reacts to the Graced characters, and how Bitterblue and the others will react to the telepathic foxes. Will Bitterblue be able to hear the foxes, or is it an ability that only those on Winterkeep have? How smart are the foxes? Are they smart enough to be considered citizens? There are a lot of questions and I’m excited to see what direction Cashore takes it.
I will always recommend the Graceling series, as I have loved it from a young age. If you haven’t read it yet, well, Winterkeep is a good excuse to catch up before the new book is published.