Author: Kristin Cashore
Review Summary: Well-written, unique world with magic that obeys believable rules, and great characters. Brought back fond memories of reading Tamora Pierce’s quartets about strong heroines taking on traditionally male roles.
Graceling is a story about Katsa, a rare individual Graced with a supernatural level of skill – in her case, the Grace of killing. Although previously the king has used Katsa to enforce his often cruel will on his subjects, in this novel she begins to question her place in his plans and discover her own identity. There is also a handsome prince (a supporting character who complements but doesn’t overshadow our heroine) and of course an evil villain.
This book has pretty much everything going for it. I loved the characters. Katsa and the prince really do complement one another perfectly. Katsa in particular develops a lot as a character and I personally like novels where the characters grow into better people. We also got to learn the back stories of a decent number of the side characters, enough so that they don’t feel too one dimensional, although the focus is definitely on Katsa and the prince. The plot was fairly straightforward and there was never any difficulty distinguishing good from evil, but as a YA book I don’t necessarily expect that.
The backgrounds of both the characters and the kingdom blended well with the present-day plot. At the same time, the mechanics of the magical Graces were well thought out and well explained. Although the idea of in-born magic isn’t new, I found the variety of ways it could manifest itself relatively novel. I also really liked that each individual’s Grace followed particular rules (we mostly learn about Katsa’s and the prince’s) and once those rules were established they weren’t broken. They were also fairly believable rules, with no odd little restrictions added just to steer the plot.
This book had a well-developed, believable world with great characters and the writing was excellent. I would particularly recommend this series to Tamora Pierce fans. And with Bitterblue (the third of the series, but taking place immediately after Graceling) just released, I’d suggest you read it fast and get on your library waiting list for the next one right away.
- Bookhounds – “The story of Katsa and Po is the best sort of new fairy tales that are available today…”