In this debut fantasy novel, Cashore treats readers to compelling and eminently likable characters and a story that draws them in from the first paragraph. In Katsa's world, the "Graced," those gifted in a particular way, are marked by eyes that are different colors. Katsa's Grace is that she is a gifted fighter, and, as such, she is virtually invincible. She is in the service of her tyrannical uncle, king of one of the seven kingdoms, and she is forced to torture people for infractions against him. She has secretly formed the Council, which acts in the service of justice and fairness for those who have been accused and abused. Readers meet her as she is rescuing the father of the Lienid king, who has been abducted. The reasons for his capture are part of a tightening plot that Katsa unravels and resolves, with the help of Prince Po, the captive's grandson. He has his own particular Grace, and he becomes Katsa's lover and partner in what becomes a mortally dangerous mission. Cashore's style is exemplary: while each detail helps to paint a picture, the description is always in the service of the story, always helping readers to a greater understanding of what is happening and why. This is gorgeous storytelling: exciting, stirring, and accessible. Fantasy and romance readers will be thrilled.
Before I start this review, let me say something: This is the second time I’ve read this book and I STILL cried. I’m such a softie *sigh*. OK, on to the review:
Graceling captivated me completely. It looks me by the hands and wouldn’t let me go until I devoured it whole. I finished it in one sitting but I couldn’t write the review yet or it’d be a massive blob of obsessing. Ha-ha, and who would want that?
When I picked it up for the first time, I was skeptical. I’m very picky with my fantasy, not liking ones were the magic is more important than the characters.
I feel like characters drive the story more, not the magic or enchantments the world may have. Graceling did not disappoint. It gave me a world where Graceling’s are frowned upon and feared, of a girl who everyone thinks is nothing more than a thug, and a riveting journey through the seven kingdoms.
I’m also skeptical of “journey stories”. Those are like traveling stories and they’re hard to achieve without it getting boring. But Kristin Cashore was amazingly at making me flip the pages faster and faster to see where Graceling would take me.
Katsa was an interesting character with a complicated life. She is called an assassin and a thug, feared by everyone who comes close. She has a guarded heart, afraid to let everyone see who she is and what she thinks. Po is my absolute favorite male lead in ANY book I’ve read. Po is a person who sees beyond what normal people do, who doesn’t get embarrassed easily and he’s not afraid to admit that Katsa is in fact better than him in most things. He has a kind and beautiful heart, and every time he made Katsa feel warm inside, he made me feel it as well.
The ending rocked me completely. Kristin Cashore has this amazing ability to write in a way that brings you to your knees and makes you see the beauty beyond the world and other people’s eyes. I cried and I don’t cry very easily in books (not a total lie). It makes a well-written and beautifully crafted book to spring tears into my eyes. And Graceling did that. I’d recommend this to anyone and already have. In reality, it was a single quote from the book that I cried, not the whole action. On page 450, a line that Katsa said reduced me to tears.
I rate: AWESOMESAUCE. This book was wonderful and everyone should have the opportunity to read it. Kristin Cashore created something amazing, a story about realizing one’s self and learning how to take control of your life. Of loving and being loved in return, even if everything can’t always turn out for the better. And of being able to understand someone completely, without having to say a single word.