Sunday, February 14, 2010

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

by Kristin Cashore
2008 Harcourt, Inc.
Hardcover Edition
Genre: Young Adult

4.5/5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
In a world where people born with an extreme skill - called a Grace - are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

Whens he first meets Prince Po, who is 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...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Thoughts
I loved this book! I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book other than I had heard what a great read it was and that it was one of the best of 2009. Other than that I didn't know what it was about or what I was getting into. That's the best thing about it.

Graceling is about Katsa, the niece of King Randa who is one of the seven kings of the land. She has been Graced with the art of killing and from the time she was a small child, she has been summoned by the king to service him by threatening, torturing, or killing those who are not subservient to the throne.

Graced with an extraordinary strength and speed, her Grace is killing. Many people of the kingdom have different Graces, and are identified by the mismatched colour of their eyes.

On a secret mission to save the grandfather of a king, Katsa unexpectedly comes upon a personage who knows who she is, and is almost as strong as she is. Shocked and uncertain, she hesitates, and instead of killing him, she escapes. She encounters this young man again in her own kingdom and learns that he is Prince Po, the grandson of the man she has saved. The meeting between these two people will set off a chain of events that will rock the foundation of the world as they know it and threaten an already fragile political system. Between the two of them, they travel across the country to save a fellow countrywoman and to discover the fate of a kingdom where something terrible is occurring. It will change their lives.

At first I thought it would be a typical fantasy novel and while it is a fantasy novel, it is certainly not typical. It is so well-written and the narrative flows so smoothly that the author has a way of drawing you right into the novel. The plot moved so quickly, with many twists and turns, that it kept me interested and I admit to reading past my point of where I needed to stop more than once. The dialogue was quirky and witty and I more than once found myself laughing and truly enjoying the repartee between the characters.

Katsa and Po are truly remarkable characters. They balanced each other so well that I felt kind of lonely and disappointed whenever they had to separate from each other. The development of their personal relationship was slow and well-done and I love how they each developed an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses and helped each other through their difficulties. They fought and argued like any new couple and it was interested to see how they developed a comfort level with each other that only grows from understanding and time spent together. Katsa is a skilled killer who has naturally developed a resistance to relationships and is very wary of Po and her feelings for him. Despite her many mistakes, it was easy to forgive her. I can only admire the skilled writing of Ms. Cashore for the way she develops her characters and allows her readers to experience their feelings for that as I am not usually so understanding of the many flaws in my heroes or heroines.

Why did I not give this a 5 star? While I truly enjoyed this book and found the plot mesmerizing right from the beginning, my only complaint would be with the ending. I found it drawn out and a little too long. That being said, I found myself totally immersed in the story and the characters and had a lot of difficulty putting the book down. I look forward to reading Fire, the companion novel to Graceling.


Post a Comment