Title: Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisherr: Gollancz Fiction (1st July 2010)
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 want to kill. The intrigue around the 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 . . .
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing story that will captivate you, and leave you wanting more.
Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Gracelingis the first book in the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore. This book was first published in 2008, so I’m a little late to the party. Graceling tells the story of Katsa, a girl who is isolated by her Grace.
Reading this book reminded me why I love Epic Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery. It contains everything I love in the genre: a feisty heroine, wicked fight scenes, mystery, romance, epic journeys, dangerous rescues, and, of course, some form of magic – in this case Graces. As you may know if you follow the blog, or have caught one of my Top Ten Tuesday posts, I am a HUGE fan of feisty heroines, and Katsa is very definitely a feisty heroine.
I really enjoyed Katsa as a character, in spite of – or maybe because – she remains so closed off emotionally through the novel. Katsa’s Grace is scary, not because of what it does but because of how it isolates her. Yet despite this isolation, Katsa is not alone. Despite some of her actions in the novel, which she is manipulated into doing, she is on the whole a very just character – it is important to her to do the right thing.
The secondary characters are fleshed out brilliantly. I particularly enjoyed Katsa’s interactions with her cousin Raffin, who is very different from her. I also loved the characters of Po and Bitterblue. Cashore writes the friendships and interactions between the characters in a really believable manner. She manages this too with the romantic subplot which I really enjoyed. The bad guy of the book was scary. Seriously scary.
I really enjoyed the plot of the book. A major part of the plot was an epic quest element, which Cashore pulled off brilliantly. There was enough world building to keep me interested, but not so much that it took away from the momentum of the narrative. Some of the twists in the plot were fairly predictable, but there were some I just did not see coming at all. And you know what, the predictability of some elements didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the narrative.
If you enjoy epic fantasies, or a good sword and sorcery book then this is definitely a book you should pick up. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Tamora Pierce, as Graceling contains all the elements of one of Pierce’s books. I can’t wait to pick up Fire, the second book in the Graceling Realm series.