Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review: GRACELING by Kristin Cashore

3.5 out of 5 hearts

I decided to read this book after I attended a book signing by Victoria Schwab and she mentioned that Katsa and Po were one of her favorite fictional pairs.  Also, a fellow writer I met at that event was reading Fire, which is the 2nd book in the series.

In a Medieval (and fictional) world, Gracelings walk the earth and live in midst of normal humans.  Gracelings are humans with special skills, kind of like a 6th sense, and are identifiable by the color of their eyes - each eye of Graceling is a different color.  This 6th sense is referred to as a Grace and can be anything:  premonitions, natural agility with numbers, hypersensitive senses.  Lady Katsa is the niece of King Randa of the Middlums and she has one blue and one green eye.  Her Grace is killing... killing people.  She is King Randa's most lethal weapon and follows his commands to torture or kill.  However, she hates her Grace because she has to kill people.  And she hates that she has to do it under King Randa's command.  In an effort to make things right, she set up The Council, which is a secret organization under King Randa's nose that helps the people of the Seven Kingdoms.  On a Council mission to rescue the kidnapped Lienid grandfather, Prince Tealiff, she fights off a Graceling that is Graced with combat skills.  Her life changes drastically after that moment.

She and her Council friends Giddon and Oll, who are also in King Randa's warriors, return to The Middlums and hide Prince Tealiff as they try to uncover the mystery of his kidnapping.  Prince Greening Grandemalion a.k.a Prince Po from Lienid is at court when they arrive.  He has a silver and a gold eye, the most beautiful eyes Katsa has ever seen.  She finds out that he is Graced with combat kills and was the Graceling she fought during the mission.  In a sudden turn of events, Katsa is fed up with King Randa's command and decides to leave court.  By this point, Prince Po knows that his grandfather was rescued by the Council and his hidden in the castle.  Katsa and he run off together to find the answers to Prince Tealiff's kidnapping.  On this journey, Katsa and Po fall in love, despite with their savage conditions in the wilderness, and learn the truth about their true Graces.  Katsa's is more than killing and Po's is not combat skills.  Yet, they find out who the real kidnapper is and the evil he is spewing in his kingdom.  He is Graced and possibly the most powerful Graceling of them all.  No one is safe from him.  No one can escape him.  But Katsa and Po must figure out how before the Seven Kingdoms all fall into his hands.

I love all things Medieval so Graceling was right up my alley.  In some sense, it was very much like Lord of the Rings adventure-esque.  The majority of the action did not happen until the latter half of the book and since it's 471 pages long, it can be a bit of a drag in the beginning.  However, since this is the first of the series, it could be because it has to create the set up for the books to follow.

The only one thing I wish wasn't so, would be the state of Katsa and Po's relationship.  She does not want to be married and would only agree to be his lover.  For the sake of the series, I think that if she wanted more than that then it would make the journey more meaningful - another journey she goes on that you'll have to read it to know because I don't want to give anything away.  Then again, she could have a change of heart in the books to follow.

I would love to see this as a movie.  Hopefully it happens sometime in the future.

“But everyone has some kind of power to hurt people.” - Kristin Cashore, Graceling

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Hardcover, 471 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Harcourt
ISBN 015206396X (ISBN13: 9780152063962)
Edition language:  English

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