This is a hard one to rate and probably falls into that dreaded, "somewhere between a three and a four" space. First, credit where credit is due, I thought Kristin Cashore had a nice and clean writing style. I never struggled to understand her, I was never lacking a mental picture. Her world was imaginative and intriguing. The Graces were the cherry on top. Even the grievances I had at the beginning of her style being a bit to repetitive worked themselves out. My example of this complaint was the way Cashore kept telling us about Katsa falling asleep. Katsa did this, this and this, she thought this, "and then she commanded herself to sleep." Over and over, until Cashore threw something in the plot that made this make sense, and I forgave her. The pacing was great. Somewhere towards the end, I started being rude, and ignoring people who were talking to me, because I had a book to finish. The mark of a good book, if you ask me. The world, the writing, the pacing and the majority of the plot was all good. Perhaps great. I liked Katsa, mostly. I loved what Katsa represented: a strong willed, physically strong female lead. No, she wasn't the perfect role model, (I'm a girl! I cant handle my emoootions) but I loved that she could stand up for herself, protect herself and survive. I liked her, but because she was so strong and so good, it created problems for the story. Most of the tension in the story was dragged out with filler. Not Katsa facing the bad guy, but the months she spent in the woods trying to get to the bad guy. Not Katsa standing up to her uncle, but the time leading up to her decision to stand up to him. The actual climatic moments happened a little too fast and were solved a little too quickly. Katsa was Superman. I especially think it just made little sense to have her under the thumb of her uncle. Why? How does that make sense? I liked Po and, for the most part, I liked their relationship. Or, I should say, I got what Cashore did here. I wasn't sold on the final product. The world Cashore created isn't one we know and yet she gave us few clues about what marriage meant in this world. All we know is that Katsa is strongly against it, because for some reason she felt it would strip her of her freedoms. It was just a little too much for me. "The lady doth protest too much," sort of deal, and it was a flimsy protestation at that. Congrats to Cashore for acknowledging that there is something between friendship and marriage, but then negative points to her for what she ends up making it: sex and some appearances of commitment, but ZOMG LOL not really, because commitment makes Katsa itchy. Katsa does learn to love, I believe, but it's hard to remember that when she's still shouting things about her freedoms and "ew no, I won't marry you."Although I liked Bitterblue and the whole story of Monsea, King Leck felt a little disconnected from the story. At one point, the end was exactly what I wanted to happen. And then it kept going. Seriously, the ending kept going and going and going, and it broke my heart a little more with each additional page. Naturally I had to mention: What ridiculous names. Overall, an entertaining read whose imaginative world and strong characters help push it past its warbles and faults.