In the case of 18-year-old Queen Bitterblue, her father, King Leck, twisted the truth. He wiped out the memories and experiences of his citizenry after inflicting unspeakable crimes against them as individuals and as a citizenry. Bitterblue feels compelled to confront those truths herself but then must decide how much of that information to release and to whom. Would it be healing or do greater damage to make public some of these facts? And how can she remedy the hurt her father caused to so many of his subjects? It’s a daunting task, and she has few people she can trust, surrounded as she is by her father’s men, who must come to terms with their own guilt, sorrow and grief.
Her only reliable means of gathering the truth is to disguise herself as a male and take to the streets. But that comes with its own perils. As the daughter of a king that wronged a nation, she has few friends and many enemies, but she feels it’s worth the risk to get to the truth. One of the great injustices she discovers is that her father made it a crime to teach others to read. As someone who thrives on education and loves to learn, Bitterblue finds this one of the greatest travesties of her father’s reign. As she strives to bring about justice, Bitterblue also finds laughter and love, enjoys the friendships of Katsa and Po (from Graceling), and discovers friendly neighbors and possible allies.
Kristin Cashore once again explores the questions at the center of the human experience: the pursuit of truth and justice, and the need for a society that allows people to thrive as individuals.