A killer, that’s what she is. A ruthless monster that can kill a man in over a hundred different ways. Whether it is with her bare hands, a sword, or a bow and arrow, this girl can do it all. But is this Grace really a gift, or is it a curse that she must live with forever? To be able to kill, but not be killed? What happens if this power of hers hurts someone when she didn’t mean to? If it were to get out of hand, what would happen next? Katsa doesn’t want this. She doesn’t like hurting people when they don’t deserve to be punished. But she has to, she doesn’t have a choice. Katsa lives in Randa City in the Middluns, one of the Seven Kingdoms. She is her uncle, King Randa’s, personal thug. Instead of fearing her, he treats her as if she is a mutt for him to command. But sixteen-year-old Katsa should be grateful, for she is lucky that her uncle let his niece, who is Graced with killing, live. So rather than having her life ended, Katsa must hurt innocent people, whether she likes it or not.
What is this Grace that Katsa has? Well, to be Graced is to have a special talent for something, whether it be cooking, mind-reading, enhanced eyesight, or in Katsa’s case, killing. Someone who is Graced will have two different colors for their eyes, but they don’t necessarily have to be born this way. Oh no, the change could take place overnight. To those who are Graced though, is this really something to be proud of? People treat you differently, and you automatically become the king’s property. Would you rather be average, or above average and be shunned?
During this time of conflict between the Seven Kingdoms, Katsa is needed the most. King Randa needs her to influence certain lords who are not paying their taxes or are cheating the king out of what he bargained for. So she must travel from land to land breaking people’s necks or maybe just a leg now and again. Either way, Katsa is fed up with it. Is this all she will do for the rest of her life? Be her uncle’s little pet? Can Katsa find who she really is and become independent, or will she succumb to the king’s ultimate power? Kristin Cashore reveals all in this intriguing adventure, Graceling!
This book is such a remarkable read that it demanded my attention! Katsa is a strong character who thinks that she has everything in life figured out. I would suggest this book for teens and adults, as some parts may be too gruesome and intense, and unsuitable for children and young teens.
Graceling is a mix of old and new, with lots of surprises thrown in for good measure. One thing that I enjoyed very much about Graceling was the fact that it had the quest feel of older fantasy books, yet at the same time brought in romance, adventure, and a new ability for people to be Graced with different skills. I thought that the Graces were especially cool, as anyone could be Graced with baking skills, mind reading, or as in Katsa’s case, killing. But even Katsa’s Grace has some hidden surprises that she cannot control.
This book also reminded me of The Hunger Games series. Katsa seemed to be very much like the main character from The Hunger Games, Katniss. Both were skilled with weapons, and have a very fragile temper. Plus, both Katsa and Katniss weren’t sure about their feelings towards certain boys, and they both never wanted to bring children into the worlds they lived in. I thought this was nice though, as I enjoyed The Hunger Games series very much. But I must admit that many times when I first started reading Graceling, I kept seeing Katsa’s name as Katniss, since they were so similar. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games series, then you might want to try this one on for size.
However, sometimes the storyline did seem fairly slow, as Katsa and her companions traveled through the different kingdoms. But this is where the quest part of the story comes in. I felt as if some of these parts could have been cut down some more. I would have rather had the time spent describing other aspects of the story in more detail.
Also, this story has so many surprises that there were too many to count! I was constantly widening my eyes as I turned each page. I liked this, as it definitely brought more excitement to the story and had a way of livening up some of the dull parts. I hope to see this continue in the companion novel in this trilogy, Fire. Fire takes place in the same world, but with mostly different characters and a new setting and plot.
In the end, Graceling is a spectacular story of one girl’s journey to break free from the bonds that were thrust upon her. Will Katsa be able to choose her own destiny and fate? Join Katsa, as she learns to be her own person and learns to love in this stunning journey, Graceling!
-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…