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 . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
Why I Started Reading This Book and Final Verdict
Graceling is one of Tara’s favorites. By default, this means that Graceling is on my TBR list. But when I found out that Kristin Cashore was signing books in the Twin Cities, I dragged myself (and my mom) to St. Paul to meet her and get a book signed for Tara. I also (of course) picked up all three Graceling realm books while I was at the signing. I knew very little about any of the books before the signing, but I really enjoyed listening to Kristin talk about her work and I began to get excited to pick up her books. When Bout of Books rolled around a week later, I knew it was the perfect time to start. And I did truly enjoy Graceling, even though at nearly 500 pages, it’s not a good read-a-thon book. It was worth it, however.
From listening to Kristin talk about her work, I figured I would probably end up enjoying her books. So far so good. My only concern about Graceling going into it was that a few people said that they weren’t fond of Katsa. I needn’t worry. I did not have any issues with Katsa. I think her character was true to form. There’s nothing soft and huggable about Katsa. And with her Grace, that’s the way it should be.
The pacing of Graceling surprised me. I’m not really sure why. I went into this without preconceived notions (I barely even read the synopsis), but I think what threw me was how the romance progressed. For some reason, I expect the romance to proceed right along with the plot, and the getting together part happening at the very end. It didn’t happen that way here. But I still loved the romance (and Po). And I hope that we can revisit both Katsa and Po in future stories.
Kristin Cashore really has a way with telling stories. I loved the concept of Graces, of Katsa struggling with her Grace, and finding herself. Because I started this book after both Fire and Bitterblue have released, I was really intrigued and captivated by Bitterblue, knowing that she has her own story. And I wanted to skip Fire and head straight into Bitterblue after finishing Graceling (I didn’t, and I won’t, but I wanted to). I definitely want to immerse myself in this world more. I do remember Kristin saying at her signing that she wish she would have spent more time on world building in this book, so I’m hoping with Fire and Bitterblue, I get an even better sense of the world.
If you’re a fan of fantasy and kick ass heroines, Graceling is a book you want to look out for. Though this is probably more of an older YA book (think like Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder), I can see it appealing to a broad range of ages.