Author: Kristin Cashore
Pages: 471 (Paperback)
Publishing Date: September 7, 2009
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 how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to lean a new truth about her own Grace- or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...
First, can I just say how much I adore the name, Katsa? Because I'm in love with that name. Just saying.
This book is pure, beautiful fantasy right from the first page. It is rare that I come across a book that strikes me as so truly unique as Graceling did; as far as I can remember I have never read anything quite like it. Cashore has done a remarkable job of creating the Seven Kingdoms in which the story takes place and making them come alive to the reader- I will not be visiting the mountains between Sunder and Monsea anytime soon, as just reading about it made me cold. I would very much like to visit Lienid though; it sounds lovely.
I think the best part of this book is Katsa's character. She is strong and stubborn, and yet trapped under her uncle's control at the same time. She knows what she wants and she most certainly knows what she does not want, but she isn't always quite sure how to get around to doing what it is she wants. She knows how to survive in the most difficult of situations, but is unsure how to handle herself when something like friendship presents itself. The relationship between Katsa and Po is...particularly unique to say the least, and watching her try to figure out what to make of him and their friendship is almost comical because of how frustrating it is for her to understand at times.Watching Katsa learn to handle herself in the presence of people whose eyes do not instantly widen with fear at the sight of her's is as entertaining as her adventure itself.
The book is well balanced between the outer struggles of the world and the inner struggles Katsa is attempting to deal with, making a lovely mix of action and drama. I loved reading through Katsa's thoughts as she processes everything happening around her - her stubbornness combined with Po's humor alone makes this book worth reading. Plus, who doesn't love a badass girl who knows how to handle herself? I know I do! Dresses are overrated; daggers are the way to go these days.
Basically, read the book. It's a good'n. And I can almost guarantee it will have you smirking at something a character said about as often as it has you in suspense :P