Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill.
As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
As a brown-eyed girl, I’ve always loved colored eyes because I don’t have them. So two different colored eyes made me jealous with wanting because how awesome is that? But wait there’s more. People with two different colored eyes means that the person is graced with a specific gift? WHAT IS THIS MAGIC.
That’s what we learn when reading Graceling. In this world certain individuals are graced with particular talents. Some talents may be small, such as being an extremely good swimmer, and being able to hold your breath underwater for longer than usual. While other graces may allow a person to read minds, or be extremely gifted with swordsmanship. All in all each grace sounds pretty awesome to someone who isn’t graced with an exceptional skill. That is until we meet Katsa, her grace is a bit unusual, and the fact that she’s a woman with this particular skill is quite unnerving for anyone who meets her. She is graced with the ability to kill a man with her bare hands.
As in any world people with skills such as these are put to use for the benefit of others. Katsa is no exception, and her uncle the king has been making use of her exceptional skill level by making Katsa do his dirty work and doling out punishments to his subjects. While reading we get a sense of Katsa and her grace and we learn that although it may come in handy and she’s certainly more than capable of protecting herself, she’s not exactly free to do as she likes. Which is of course ironic because Katsa has so much power yet feels so helpless when it comes to the king because to him she is just a possession that is used to further enforce his power over others. Even though she’s the one with extreme skill level, the king is constantly pulling the puppet strings, constantly making Katsa feel as though she must hold back.
While reading I found myself loving Katsa’s character more and more. FINALLY! A female main character that can hold her own and doesn’t need a man to protect her. I found her to be of a kind nature underneath her rough and tough exterior. She most definitely has a soft spot for people that she cares for, and although she isn’t the most forthright about her emotions, she feels strongly for them and would protect them no matter what.
I also found Katsa to be unexpectedly funny! As she’s young and most people avoid her gaze as well as being near her altogether, she hasn’t had much practice in socializing, especially not with boys who are interested in her. I thought it was hilarious that she had no idea how to read signals and that the thought of someone liking her and wanting to marry her terrified and disgusted her all at the same time.
Her romantic awkwardness wasn’t solely limited to that area, but also extended to merely joking with people. She was quite uncomfortable with any lightheartedness at the beginning of the story and I thought it was incredibly interesting that killing a person was second nature to her, but laughing and being silly wasn’t something she was comfortable with. Her emotions were quite mysterious to herself, and it made for a fun read when the reader would know things about her before she even knew them herself.
Once you get into the story you’ll find yourself absorbed in Katsa’s world. Her friends and the people that she meets are all as interesting as her own character, sometimes even more so. It makes for a fun read and I found myself not quite ready for my journey with Katsa to end.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
1984 by George Orwell