*image via GoodReads
An average young woman’s life consists of the same simple elements: education; friends; crushes; heartbreak. Katsa, however, is not an average young woman, nor does she have an average life.
In the Seven Kingdoms there are people gifted with abilities that outmatch any human. These come about the day their eyes settle two different colours and can range from simply being able to swim like a fish or climb like a squirrel, to being Graced with the ability to control people’s minds. Because the Graced are so different from regular humans they live a cruel life, shunned by many and exploited by the rest.
Katsa is cursed with the worst Grace of all – the Grace of Killing. Not only is her Grace terrible enough, she’s also the niece of the terrible tyrant, King Randa, who uses her to send a message to those that wrong him. These messages generally warrant a broken bone or the removal of a finger or limb. But under the King’s order if he tells her to jump, she jumps. If he tells her to kill, she kills without hesitation.
This is where the story gets interesting however. When the King of Lienid’s father goes missing she makes it her duty to locate and bring him back to safety without her uncle knowing about it. This brings about a whole new mystery that provides a chance to free herself from Randa’s hold, only to discover something far more sinister lurking in the shadows and rumours of a malicious one-eyed King.
Along comes the next thing I love about books – romance. Unbelievably it does exist quite prominently in this book, and in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms trilogy. Apart from their first slightly violent encounter as he searched for his grandfather, Katsa finds Prince Po of Lienid’s company quite acceptable – possibly because he’s the only person that can match up to her fighting ability. With one eye of gold and the other silver, Po is Graced with hand-to-hand combat, though the waters run deep and as we find out later on in the book, there may be more to both his and Katsa’s Graces as they take to the wild in search of the one-eyed King.
As a writer-in-training (har-har), I’ve always found it ironic that I’m so picky with the books I enjoy reading but Graceling is everything I love about the art of writing. Its short-tempered, stubborn-as-a-mule protagonist is a strong woman who, despite her Grace, has an innate desire to do good rather than evil. Even with her terrifying reputation she manages to build a secret society dedicated to protecting those oppressed by the unjust Kings and quickly develops a collection of loyal friends, despite her stating she’d no need for them. Cashore may not be the most imaginative, risky, or intricate writer, but her love for storytelling is obvious to the reader. So many well thought-out characters and a strong sense of story run through Graceling like electrolytes, and create an all-together excellent thrill ride, full of excitement, anxiety, and love.
My overall opinion on the book: I’ve read it over fifteen times and I’ll read it again and again and again until the damn thing breaks, Graceling is an excellent first instalment and is a wonderfully easy read for fantasy lovers and non-fantasy lovers alike.
This review was written by guest blogger Emily.