All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

on August 17, 2017

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)
Kristin Cashore
Gollancz Books
2008, 352p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?

The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king…

I’ve heard some pretty amazing things about this series and I remember the excitement when the third novel, Bitterblue was published. I snapped it up during an iBooks sale ages ago for YA books that were first in a series and it’s sat on my iPad ever since.

Katsa is almost a form of the King’s justice – her Grace is a maiming or killing power discovered accidentally when she was a child. She’s worked for years to hone her skill so that she doesn’t just kill everyone she touches and her uncle, the King of their nation often sends her out to reprimand his subjects that have displeased him. Katsa is an orphan, was raised to be comfortable but hasn’t experienced much affection. She holds herself apart from most people other than her cousin, the King’s son and heir and a few key people. Katsa spends her spare time as part of an underground movement helping people, perhaps to help with some of the guilt she feels over doing things for the King. When they rescue someone from a neighbouring Kingdom, Katsa meets a young man with mismatched eyes that indicate he is also Graced. He’s a brilliant fighter and surprises her by reappearing in her life.

Prince Greening Grandemalion of Lienid, aka Po asks to train with Katsa while they look for information for who kidnapped his grandfather. Po’s Grace is slightly more complex than it first appears and the two of them put on sparring matches that entertain many. It’s only after Katsa gets the strength to break from the bonds that her uncle has over her that they set out to solve a mystery of a one-eyed King and investigate a perculiar power.

There’s a lot of female empowerment in this novel. Katsa is seriously skilled at fighting and there’s probably a rare situation that she cannot fight her way out of. She cares nothing for dresses or doing her hair and instead prefers practical clothes that allow her to move freely. She’s trapped by her uncle, as children who are Graced are often at the mercy of their rulers, used in any way that benefits that monarch. Katsa doesn’t enjoy the tasks he sets for her at all and constantly tries to find creative ways around inflicting damage on people who are just trying to protect their loved ones, or who have redressed their mistakes in other ways.

Po is fully supportive of Katsa and all that she feels that she needs in order to be free and I loved how he didn’t want her to give herself to him, to become his wife if she didn’t want to. In fact he was quite happy to give himself to her however she would take him. Katsa, who has been owned in a way, by the King, has no desire to ever marry and be owned by yet another male. She doesn’t ever want children. She reiterates this throughout the novel several times and the ways in which two different suitors react to her claims is marked. Few people understand Katsa and her desires, her thoughts and her feelings but Po gets her. As the youngest son in a large tribe (I think he has 6 older brothers) he has little responsibility and will most likely never become heir or King and doesn’t seem very interested in living a traditional life. His Grace does cause quite a lot of conflict between him and Katsa – in fact Po is the one person where Katsa is sort of at a disadvantage and I also understand her feelings on finding out what his Grace actually entailed. But at the same time I really liked the dynamic it created between them, that Katsa who was quite closed off, didn’t have that really with Po.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s another one where I only own the first book and now I have to go out and buy 2&3! I loved the characters – Katsa and Po are perfect, together and separately and their adventure is both intriguing and full of danger and suspense. They rescue a lovely little person and I’m looking forward to hopefully catching up with those three characters in the future. This was good fun and worth every bit of the hype I’ve heard surrounding it.


Book #139 of 2017

Graceling is part of my involvement in #TheReadingQuest Challenge, hosted by Aentee @ Read At Midnight with all the cute artwork created by CW @ Read, Think, Ponder. It’s my second category on my Mage pathway ticked off – Read The First Book In A Series.

My updated stats! 10 more experience points gained for finishing and another book and 35 more health points for 350pages.


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