Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po’s friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away …
I’ve had Graceling and Fire on my shelf for a while, but waited to read them until I had cleared my review schedule a little. I was absolutely right in moving Graceling right to the top of my to-be-read list. This is the heartwarming story of Katsa, a young girl who can’t make friends or develop close relationships because she is alienated by her Grace – killing. It has wonderful characters, a fast paced story line, and believable political intrigue, all set within the framework of a vivid new world.
Katsa’s few friends are fast and true, and I loved her relationships with them all. Her bond with her cousin, and the respect and equality she achieves with Po before falling in love with him are refreshing to read. I loved that Katsa wanted very much to be her own person while being in a relationship with Po. I think she is great, fiercely independent, and while stubborn, not bullheaded enough to endanger those around her.
The best way to describe the story is that it hurtles towards it’s conclusion. Like an avalanche, the book starts with small, seemingly unrelated events that quickly snowball into an epic adventure full of deception and danger (and a little romance along the way). The plot line is supported by the sweet romance and intricate politics, but they do not take over the story, which I liked. Since the plot takes precedence over all the other elements of the book, it is gratifying that all the characters are able to distance themselves from their personal issues to tackle larger, global issues.
I feel that the writing in Graceling can be improved. The speech of the characters feels forced; they use archaic syntax but a modern vocabulary and this was jarring for me to read. Cashore also begins a lot of her sentences with For, probably to imbue the story with a quality of story-telling, but this simply breaks the rhythm of the story and makes it difficult to concentrate on it. Despite this, I feel that Cashore is a talented writer and I look forward to seeing how her work has matured in Fire and Bitterblue.
I thoroughly enjoyed Graceling and believe that this fantasy story of a young girl trying to find her place in her world will be enjoyed by many readers. It certainly was a refreshing change from all the paranormal romances I’ve been buried in lately! I hope to start Fire soon, and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bitterblue by post.
About the book:
- Date published: 07 September 2009
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Format: Paperback, 471 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780547258300 ISBN 10: 0547258305
- Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult
- Goodreads / The Book Depository