When I got a notification on Twitter that Kristin Cashore’s ready to announce her next book, complete with the cover reveal and release date, I cannot express how utterly surprised and unprepared I was. A new book?? So soon after Winterkeep?
I would be lying if I said her previous book lived up to my expectations. Then again, I might’ve held unfairly high ones. Either way, although the original Graceling Three will forever hold a special place in my heart, Winterkeep was beautiful on its own. You can look at my full review here: Book Review: Winterkeep (!!).
Warning: spoilers abound for Graceling and for Winterkeep.
Before we get into the juicy new details of Book Five of the Graceling Realm, there’s one other unexpected surprise I’d like to discuss first, and that’s the Graceling graphic novel.
Adapted by Gareth Hinds and published mid November of 2021, the graphic novel obviously has to compress large chunks of the narrative in order to best fit the new format. Tragically, some of my favorite scenes had to be cut out or simply mentioned in passing, or else the graphic novel would not be able to function properly.
I do think that the pacing could’ve used some touching up, but repeat readers at least will get to discover a lot of easter eggs that call back to some of the more humorous moments, such as Raffin’s boldly blue hair, and a frame of Helda holding up both a green and a red dress-from that infamous scene, “The red would look stunning on you” and “If I wish to stun anyone at dinner I’ll hit him in the face.”
In addition to the pacing, I was a little disappointed in the artwork. To be fair, Hinds is a talented artist, and the panels throughout the graphic novel showed the passing of time well enough. But when one’s fallen in love with depictions as seen below, it was just jarring to see them drawn in a different way.
That said, there was one easter egg in particular that I absolutely must share with you. I was reading the graphic novel late at night, right before bed mind you, when I came across the scene where Po was telling the story of King Leck.
I’m not going to lie, I got a bit distracted at first by the raptor monsters and the blue and yellow tiger and the pink fox (not to be confused with Winterkeep’s blue foxes ;). But then I realized… those little bits of embroidery?? I recognized them! They’re from Ashen’s embroidery cipher that Bitterblue discovered in book three!!
So naturally I scrambled out of bed, snatched my Bitterblue novel, and found the cipher, not daring to hope that the embroidery actually translates into something. Guys. IT DOES.
“Leck is Graced dont believe his lies”
It’s a small thing, I know, okay? But I was so happy to see that included, especially with wall hangings and embroidery as such a big thing woven into Bitterblue’s own story.
The Graceling Realm Continues
And now that we’ve gone back to our roots, it’s time to take a look at the news drop for Cashore’s next novel in the Graceling Realm series. The information dropped at noon earlier today in a Penguin Teen article. We get the fifth novel’s title and cover, and oh my goodness, guys, I can’t express how beautiful it is so I’ll let you see for yourself:
The fifth novel in the bestselling Graceling Realm series is told from the point of view of Hava, Queen Bitterblue’s sister and spy, and chronicles the harrowing journey back to Monsea.
Hava sails across the sea toward Monsea with her sister, the royal entourage, and the world’s only copies of the formulas for the zilfium weapon she saved at the end of Winterkeep. During the crossing, Hava makes an unexpected discovery about one of the ship’s crew, but before she can unravel the mystery, storms drive their ship off course, wrecking them in the ice far north of the Royal Continent. The survivors must endure a harrowing trek across the ice to make it back to Monsea. And while Queen Bitterblue grapples with how to carry the responsibility of a weapon that will change the world, Hava has a few more mysteries to solve —and a decision to make about who she wants to be in the new world Bitterblue will build.
Thoughts: I’m intrigued to learn that Hava will be one of the main PoV characters in this new novel. I know a lot of people find her a fascinating character, and truthfully I feel like despite all of my rereads, Hava’s Grace has affected me as a reader just as much as it affected Bitterblue and all her compatriots: she’s so good at hiding that I’m not sure I have a firm grasp on her character. That said, I’m not sure if it’ll hold multiple PoVs like the first novel did, and if so, what other characters might get to share their voices with the reader. Bitterblue might, and I think Adventure, the blue fox from Winterkeep, may as well, but it’s unclear.
What I hope to see is for Seasparrow to shed some light on some of the topics I’d been a little disappointed with at the end of Winterkeep, most especially the rather abrupt marriage between Gideon and Bitterblue. It’s not that I don’t think they’d make a good couple, or that I hadn’t been hoping they’d get together eventually as a result of their chemistry in Bitterblue, but just that both of them have grown a little more in the years between Bitterblue and Winterkeep and how that affects their relationship was a little unclear.
Either way, if you think I’m not reading Seasparrow the moment it launches–November 1, 2022, why so far away??–you’re dead wrong. 😀 Be on the lookout for a review later on in the year.
This leads me to my last, brief, point before I close out the blog post for today. Regulars of my blog probably noticed I went radio silent for several months. Truth be told, after a rather harrowing holiday season, dropping the blog posts had been incredibly helpful lowering my stress levels and keeping me from getting completely burnt out.
That said, I’ve missed you guys and there are definitely some posts I’ve been contemplating making. I figured Cashore’s new book was as good a reason as any to break my silence. I don’t expect to get back to any regular posting schedule, at least not any time soon, but I definitely don’t want to quit blogging completely. I definitely want to do another Fantasy Word Count post–I’ve got the numbers calculated and everything–before too long, so keep an eye out for that.
In the meantime, happy reading my friends.