Graceling - Graceling Realm, Bk 1 Author:Kristin Cashore 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 infra... more »ctions 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.« less
I thought that this was a very entertaining fantasy novel - the characters were quite likable and the plot, though straightforward, was exciting. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, as well as the rest of the series. It really reminded me of Maria V. Snyder's series, so I would say that if you finished that series and were looking for a new fantasy series, you would probably really enjoy this one since they both center around strong, independent, female characters.
In most of the seven kingdoms, people born with a Grace--an extreme skill that they can perform above all others--are usually feared.
However, King Randa of the Middluns kingdom has exploited Katsa's ability to kill ever since her Grace surfaced at the tender age of eight. Katsa had even begun to think that maybe, in reality, she really was nothing but an attack dog, until one day she decided to follow her own will and let an innocent man live. Since then, she and her cousin, Prince Raffin, have put together a secret council to rescue people suffering from similar injustices.
During a rescue mission to free the father of the Lienid king from a dungeon in Sunder, Katsa squares off with a Graced Lienid man who is almost her equal in fighting. When he shows up in Middluns, Katsa is dismayed to learn that he is one of the Lienid princes, nicknamed "Po," in search of his missing grandfather.
Although Katsa is at first wary of his intentions, she soon finds a kindred spirit in Po, and the two grow close as they set off on a journey to solve the mystery surrounding the kidnapping of Po's grandfather. In Monsea, a kingdom isolated by mountains, Po's aunt and young cousin may be in grave danger...
Akin to the tales of Tamora Pierce, this story features strong female characters and an exciting medieval world full of magic and action. Definitely not one to miss!
Tom S. reviewed Graceling (Graceling Realm, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 4
This book has been my number one favorite book for a year now. It is filled with sooooooo many twists, so many different emotions, so many wonderful perfectly detailed characters! Surprising fact after surprising secret, you will regret finnishing this wonderful tale!
In Katsa's world, those who possess a Grace, an unusually powerful skill, recognized by their different-colored eyes, are often shunned and avoided by the ordinary people. Katsa has it worse than most Graced, for her Grace is the Grace of killing, a Grace that her uncle, King Randa, uses to keep his subjects in line.
But Katsa is sick of always obeying her uncle's orders, being forced to perform these tasks she hates and having to hide her good side. Still, she sees no way out of her miserable, savage life...until she meets Po, a prince from a faraway island kingdom, whose secret business coincides with hers. Po is Graced with the art of combat, and they are well matched in fighting.
A friendship develops between Katsa and Po, and they are thrown together even more as they set off to defend their world from the clutches of a powerful and dangerous king. Katsa must contend with her wild nature if she is to get to know Po, if she is to learn about the truth about their Graces and characters. Together, they may just be able to save their world and make it a better place.
The characterizations of Katsa and Po in Graceling are incredible; it's impossible to not like them and feel for them as they struggle with their internal conflicts and emotions for one another. On the other hand, I felt like much of the plot-conflict in this novel was thrown in almost helter-skelter; conflicts were suddenly introduced and resolved in a matter of pages. I would have liked more back-story, so that I could've better understand Katsa and Po's world. That being said, Graceling is still an incredible debut fantasy novel, sure to appeal to all fantasy lovers who also like a good romance.
I have had this on my shelf to read forever. I am not sure why it took me so long to read it. It was an absolutely stellar adventure fantasy with a dash of romance; an excellent world with an interesting premise. Highly recommended to those who love YA fantasy.
When Katsa was eight years old she killed a man with her bare hands, revealing her Grace. Some have Graces that let them cook well or run fast or sing...Katsa's Grace is to kill. With her parents dead her uncle the King has been using her as his personal strong arm. Whenever the King thinks someone is out of the line the King sends Katsa to torture, threaten and kill. But Katsa is getting sick of doing the King's dirty work. Then she meets Prince Po; Prince Po is Graced with Fighting and finally Katsa has someone who can challenge her in combat. As her and Prince Po become friends and compare notes on their separate kingdoms they realize that something is going seriously wrong in a neighboring kingdom and go on a mission to investigate and fix the problem.
This was a seriously good book. It has an excellent balance of interesting world-building, epic politics, fantastic action scenes, unforgettable characters, and a little romance. The world is very well laid out. The names of all the kings and kingdoms are a bit confusing initially but quickly you learn the layout and then things are much easier to make sense of. I love the idea of people having Graces, it is in an interesting type of magic system, and Cashore does an excellent job of explaining the Graces.
This book is very action packed. Katsa is a bit easy to rile, so she is constantly lashing out and fighting people. The fight scenes between her and Po are incredible. The plot was very well done, the story is so well woven together and takes some interesting twists and turns. The surprises are such that when you think back to the beginning on the story it makes perfect sense, but they are done in such a way that they are still surprising.
Katsa is an absolutely wonderful and engaging character. It was fun to watch her anger and hatred temper itself into something more mature as the story went on. I love that right from the get go she is intelligant and her own person, this is evidenced by the Council she starts to protect others in the Kingdom. Yet despite her intelligence she is somewhat emotionally stunted by the things the King has forced her to do. It was great to watch her overcome this.
Prince Po was another exceptional character. He adds a lightness to the story that balances Katsa's violence and has this wonderful kind of zen thing going on despite his own secrets. Really he is the perfect counterpart to Katsa. I loved how they are friends before they get romantic; I always love it when the romance between the two characters is actually based on a solid and respectful relationship.
The other characters are just as endearing; they are all very well done. I am excited to see that the most recent book is about Bitterblue because she was definitely a side character I wanted to learn more about.
The story ends well and I think readers will be pleased. I can't wait to read more books by Cashore. This is probably best for older young adults. There is a lot of violence, some torture, and one non-explicit sex scene.
Overall an absolutely excellent fantasy book. I loved the world, the idea of Graces, and the wonderfully engaging characters. The plot moved fast and had a lot of very well done twists and turns; it was full of adventure, intrigue, and action. The romance between Katsa and Po is very sweet and very well done; built on mutual respect and friendship. I highly recommend this to fantasy lovers. It reminds a bit of Tamora Pierce's books and Robin McKinely's Hero and the Crown, but grittier. Again highly recommended for fantasy fans young adult and older.
Like many novels there is a point or two where the story seems to slow too much for some readers but I truly enjoyed the key character, Katsa, who has a talent for fighting, combat, and killing. That talent is used by her uncle to punish and/or destroy those who disagree or disobey him. For her uncle, it is important not just to kill but often to torture before killing. Her distaste for torture leads Katsa to refuse to follow his instructions putting her in a difficult position.
Many characters in this novel are "graced" with skills that make their life more interesting or difficult depending upon how you look at it. One is Po, whose grandfather has been kidnapped. When Katsa decides to help him their adventures begin and they narrowly escape difficult situation after difficult situation.
They fall in love but Katsa is determined not to marry anyone. As the novel develops, the reader supports the formation of the Council, an underground network of innkeepers, servants, and gracelings, who share knowledge to thwart missions and protect the innocent who inadvertently encounter the fickle judgment of rulers like Katsa's uncle, Randa.
This is an excellent beginning to a well written series. I hope, however, that the author avoids the trap of many authors who write series and use weak plots and extended wordage just to get the next novel out.
I loved this book! I truly didn't want it to end. I'd love to write more, but busy, busy, busy. Oh, and I loved the narration. Some of the music in the background was a little too much, but I loved having different voices for the characters.
I loved this book. First, it's that great classic combination of intrigue, adventure, and a young person growing up and learning how to be independent. What takes it beyond readability are the engaging writing, sympathetic characters, and some unexpected avoidance of cliches I've come to expect.
Katsa is the king's enforcer/executioner. She hates the job and herself a bit for doing it, but at the beginning doesn't see how to break free of his control. So in her spare time, she's formed a secret council that does good deeds under cover of darkness in an attempt to undo some of the harm she and the king have done. A mission introduces her to Prince Po and a boatload of conspiracy and intrigue, which naturally leads to them going on a mission to find out the truth and possibly rescue a few people and topple a monarchy.
The Seven Kingdoms are like many Fantasylands with their vaguely medieval setups, but Cashore doesn't always follow the script, fortunately. Like many fantasy heroines, Katsa doesn't like wearing dresses - but only because they get in the way of her work, not because she thinks dresses are inherently evil creations. She quite likes her nurse, who is very much pro-dress. She doesn't want to get married - not because she hates men, but because the legal aspects of marriage in her society are unfair, and she thinks that would wreck even a good relationship where she and the guy wanted to treat each other as equals. She doesn't want children either - not because she doesn't like kids; in fact, she likes them fine and acts as a mentor and protector to a girl for part of the book. She just doesn't want her own. And when on her travels she encounters women who are not sure how to protect themselves after their husbands or sons have disappeared (or whatever), she doesn't side with the many fantasy heroines who gripe about how useless those girls are. She wonders why people don't train their daughters in self-defense and force them to be dependent on others to protect themselves, which is not a foolproof system by a long shot. And being Katsa, you know she'll try to fix this, too.
Also, the villain was one of the scariest villains I've seen in a while, and he wasn't quite typical either. He didn't live in a brooding fortress, or ride into battle, or go around randomly stabbing peasants to show us how evil he is, or spend piles of gold on gluttonous feasts and fancy clothes, or even bribe people to hide his evil deeds.
I also enjoyed the prequel, Fire, and am looking forward to the release of the sequel Bitterblue.