Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)
by Kristin Cashore
What is it about:
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...
What did I think of it:
This is a really cool read.
I wasn't so sure about Katsa at first, she seemed to act a bit too much as a victim when I thought that wasn't necessary. But it turned out that her behavior and the role she lets herself be put into were big parts of the story, which is as much about the mystery Katsa and Po try to solve, as it is about Katsa's transformation.
And Katsa's transformation is a really beautiful story to read. I liked how Cashore doesn't shy away from touchy subjects like premarital sex, and a woman's place in a medieval/fantasy marriage without it taking away from the flow of the story. She doesn't treat her YA readers as if they're too fragile to handle these issues.
The mystery Katsa and Po have to solve, and the journey they take is also very intriguing. I liked how they became friends along the way and how they interacted. There was heartache, cool action, intrigue and more. Everything I could wish for in a good Fantasy adventure. There were some things you could see coming from miles and miles away, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment.
The world building fell a bit short at times. There's all these people with graces, skills that are so advanced and better than in normal people, but I felt that they weren't explained enough. How common or uncommon are they exactly? Are some graces more common than others? I think they were supposed to be very uncommon, but Katsa keeps running into graced people once she leaves the castle she grew up in. I wanted to know more than was told.
But that one grumbling aside I really liked this book, and I will most certainly read the other books in this series as well.
Why should you read it:
It's a very enjoyable YA Fantasy read.