Author: Kristin Cashore
Source: Bought at Amazon
Excerpt from Goodreads:
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 Graces 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 had heard so many good things about this book, along with the ever present one or two negative reviews, and realized I was far behind the young adult genre world in discovering Graceling. I finally decided to get this book off my TBR list and I’m so glad I did. I wasn’t really sure what this book would be about but I was excited to learn more about Katsa’s ‘Grace’ and her relationship with the seemingly mysterious Prince Po.
I finished this book late last night and I’m still reeling over the ending, but more on that later. I would like people who haven’t yet read this book to know that the next two books in the series (Fire and Bitterblue) do not follow the story of Katsa and Po (or at least that’s my understanding). While reading Graceling I was so sure that this was just the beginning of Katsa and Po’s journey that I think I took it for granted It was a huge blow finding out that this was their one and only story (for now at least).
Sad part over, now onto the review.
From the first chapter, I loved it! Simple as that. I was immediately swept up into this world of adventure, hate, power, greed, lust, and magic, but not in the usual sense. In so many ways it reminded me of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon series. The feel of the characters, the pace of the novel, and of course the action had me turning pages faster than I even thought possible.
I forgot how much I truly missed this genre of young adult fiction and need to go back to it immediately. I’ve been so swept up in the dystopian, love triangle, whatever else trend that’s happening in YA that I’ve been missing my true love of fantasy fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the other genres as well, but fantasy fiction is such easy reading for me while some other books feel like work.
Not only do I consider this book a gem, but Katsa is a true gem herself. She may be controlled by her uncle, who happens to be the King, but she was never weak. She could hold her own, and her true discovery is learning that she has a choice in her actions. Po is the one who helps her to see this and he essentially turns Katsa into the person she was always meant to be.
I so enjoyed the way Po was described with his eyes and accessories. Actually, I loved the way everything was described. I can’t remember the last time I had such vivid images swirling around my head while reading a book. I could picture Lienid, I could picture Katsa sitting up in the mast of the ship, I could picture the mountain pass, and every description became a clear image in my mind.
I love the idea of having a Grace. It was similar to the special abilities of the outsiders in Under The Never Sky (by Veronica Rossi), but what I loved even more were the relationships in the novel. Katsa and Po’s relationship grew in a genuine way and their love for one another was undeniable. The sacrifices they made for each other clearly showed the depth of their relationship just as much if not more than the occasional make out scene. However, I think my favorite relationship was between Katsa and Bitterblue, Po’s cousin.
Many people seem to disagree or dislike the fact that Katsa refuses to marry. I bring this up only because I want to argue a point. Okay, maybe you personally don’t agree with a woman not wanting to marry, but Katsa is a girl who has been controlled by a man (the King) her entire life. All she wants is the freedom to do what she chooses when she chooses and to not be stuck in her husband’s house serving his guests. I totally get this concept and I think Kristin Cashore did a great justice by showing that side to her character especially given the world this story is set in. Bravo.
But the ending. That was a hard one to swallow. Don’t get all freaked out yet, nothing bad happens, it just made me a little sad. For one reason or another certain characters ‘part ways’ in hopes that they will return to each other again. This wouldn’t have been so hard to comprehend if there was going to be a follow up novel! Instead, I’ll have to use my imagination and unite the characters together, happily ever after, myself.
If you couldn’t tell from this extremely long review, I’ve discovered yet another book I’m obsessed with. I’m nervous to read Fire and Bitterblue knowing that they won’t be as interrelated as I would’ve liked, but come on, Kristin Cashore’s writing has me coming back for more, without question.
I am so glad I picked this novel from my TBR list. I think it was the perfect timing, a vacation from the overwhelming majority of dystopian novels I’ve been consumed with. Graceling has reminded me that I need to get back to my reader roots. My true comfort zone when it comes to any genre is fantasy or adventure, I just eat it up.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read Christopher Paolini’s work or Veronica Rossi’s books or anyone who is missing a little fantasy and adventure in their life. You definitely won’t be disappointed.