Publication Date: January 22nd 2009
My rating: 5 stars
In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own? The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...
If it hadn’t been for a friend on Goodreads giving me the extra encouragement to give Graceling a try, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have picked up this wonderful series for some time. Despite me only have read a few fantasy books (I could probably tick them off on one hand) I have to say Graceling is a brilliant example of exactly how a fantasy novel should be done. Now I’m no expert on this, but Cashore creates a wonderful world, that’s truly believable, but doesn’t once overwhelm you with the detail. I admit I struggled a bit with some of the characters and their names in the beginning, but once I got into my stride there was nothing more that I wanted to do than devour this book right up.
Katsa was a character who I immediately liked, despite having the horrible job of dealing with her uncle Randa’s shoddy jobs; individuals who were over stepping the line, trying to wrangle out a promise they had made, it was easy to see very early on that Katsa was not a malicious person. Yes she undertook several horrid missions, but it was only because she had to, you could see that her heart was not in it. And so her accidental encounter with Po was exactly what she needed.
Po where do I even start with him? he was a person who was so hard not to love, his early encounters he had with Katsa were just the best. He was definitely the sort of person Katsa needed to bring out the person she wanted to be with all along, but also he helped her to keep her Grace in check. There were a few stumbling with these characters along the way, through miscommunication, but I felt were necessary in bringing these two incredible characters together on their journey. And what a journey it was, I went into Graceling with no real knowledge about what this story could be about and was thoroughly thrilled and surprised with what I was given. There was just so much Cashore managed to pack into this book; there was secrets, danger, adventure and it was so dark, with the depths that some individuals would go to achieve their end goals, but I loved every second.
Cashore’s world building was one of the best that I had seen in a long time, the different plots and journey that Cashore took us on were ingenious. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so consumed by such brilliant characters, so much that my feelings were definitely put through a shredder in this book. I was easily riled up on many occasions that I wanted to vent my frustration and rage and at other points my heart was thoroughly crushed. But with the so-so books that I had been reading lately, I welcomed all the feelings that this gorgeous story evoked. Graceling was a majestic story; I know my review won’t give it the justice it deserves, as my brain still seems to be overwhelmed by what I’ve read. But if like me you had been putting this story off for so long, I suggest picking it up straight away. I for one can’t wait to dive into the next two books.