I'm not sure where to start with this review, especially coming straight from reading the author's extensive thankyous, it seems like such a huge undertaking. What an ambitious book - it feels so immense and dense to me, afterwards. There was just so much in this book, two whole worlds, different languages, dozens of ciphers, etc etc.In many ways it feels like a direct product of all the confusion and layers of truth, lies and memory left in the wake of King Leck's 35 year reign. The atmosphere was pitch perfect, it really managed to suck me in and get me caught in the world. I loved how Bitterblue's struggle to figure out not only who she was but who she had been, and who everyone around her was and had been coincided with a kind of coming of age story. I really appreciate the things Cashore has done in Bitterblue, and to a lesser extent Graceling, to ignore established literary romance conventions: Po and Katsa are still lovers and not husband and wife, the book follows up the healthy sexual relationship enjoyed by the hero and heroine in Graceling with a heroine who loses her virginity to a boy she loves and who loves her(and who also happens to sleep with a lot of men) but may or may not end up with him. (Personally, I was kind of rooting for her to get with Giddon.)Not to mention the numerous gay and lesbian characters in the book: Skye, Bann and Raffin (I totally guessed they were together in Graceling and was so happy to be proven right!)Teddy and Saf's sisters (whose names I forget right now) and Saf himself being bi.