Graceling

Kristin Cashore
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. 

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-04-21
Excellent novel to hand to any 12 year girl and tell them that are strong and can do anything.
Reviewed: 2017-12-07
I have to say that Graceling probably wouldn't have been a book I picked up for myself. I don't usually go straight to fantasy type stories, based in kingdoms, etc - I usually don't find them as interesting and somehow get lost. With its glowing reviews, I had to try it - And I absolutely loved it!! I adore Katsa's character. Since her Grace involves several aspects of fighting and self-defense (and we see it develop even more in the story), Katsa is an obviously very strong female character. I loved her strength and even though she very seldom lets her guard down, she develops some excellent relationships and friendships in the book. I actually just loved all of the characters and the world that Kristin Cashore creates. It was a great book to lose myself in!! I can't wait to read the next one!

Full review originally posted on The Book Addict's Guide: I picked up GRACELING due to the many, many glowing reviews I've seen around the blogosphere. Usually I'm not one for fantasy-type stories or settings in kingdoms. For some reason, I'm not usually captured by medieval stories or fantasy worlds -- But GRACELING was just so much more than that!

I loved the idea of Graces. It's only a few people who develop Graces and they must protect themselves fiercely for the fear that they'll be taken advantage of by those who have power over them. Katsa's Grace was abused by her uncle, King Randa of Middlun, and she was forced to do his bidding of pain and killings against his enemies with her Grace ability of fighting and killing.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Katsa is a fighter -- She's tough, she's strong, and she's built up a wall around herself that's tough for people to break. Her only close companions are her cousin Raffin (who's another extremely enjoyable and funny character) and less close, her companions of the Council and her servant Helda. The relationship that develops between her and Po is extremely hesitant at first, but easily became one of my favorite relationships in a book. Katsa and Po are both extremely strong characters, but together they create a perfect team. Katsa is more serious, and always has been, and Po has an excellent sense of her and is able to bring the humor. I love his teasing of Katsa and he really breaks her down and is able to create such a trusting and loving bond with her.

The mystery behind the kidnapping of Po's grandfather was also a great development in the story. It's not just fighting and romance and fighting and romance. We learn more about the true nature of a few of the kingdoms as we also develop more of the characters. It's many layers of a story that unfold so nicely and seamlessly carried me throughout the book.

Bitterblue, who we meet later in the story (and I've grown to not hate her name as I had before I read the book!), is another great character addition. She's a little fireball and another strong character. Even with all of the strength in this book, I was never overwhelmed, which looking back on it is surprising.

GRACELING just had it all: A great story line, a fantastic world, an element of almost "supernatural" with the Graces, fighting, romance, humor, more romance, evil, action, the outdoors, fantasy, wonderful character development. And I just loved Cashore's writing style! It felt a little medieval without being overwhelming or confusing with the language. It put me in the perfect mindset while reading and really helped develop the story that much more.
Reviewed: 2016-07-26
Read it again on 8/25/2015, and liked it a lot better than the first time. For some reason, I remembered hating the ending, but I don't hate it at all. I might have been thinking of a different book. Reread so I could read the rest of the series
Reread on 2/1/2016 purely as reference for my own book. This is the best example of a YA high-fantasy novel with many similarities to my own book; After I completed my first draft I wanted to review how it handled some aspects I struggled with; it was very helpful
Reviewed: 2016-06-24
I have to say that I loved this book. Once I started reading, I could barely put it down. The characters were fun and real, or as real as they could be in a world where extraordinary and almost supernatural talents are, maybe a little less than common, but not unusual. This is definitely fantasy, and the characters were fantastic, but still realistic.

Katsa was such a wonderful character. Graced with the ability to fight and kill with ease, she is used as a weapon and Royal Leg-Breaker by the King whenever he felt that someone just wasn't fawning over him with the right level of doe-eyedness. But there is more to her than that. Despite being trained and practically raised to violence, she has a sense of justice and right and wrong that is commendable.

And then there's Po... Hmm. I loved Po's character. He's mysterious, charming, interesting and fun, badass and sweet, humble but cocky, brilliant... I'll stop now before this review starts to sound like a cheesy 80's rock ballad or something. But really. I loved him. And he has kick-ass eyes. :)

I will say that I wish that the antagonist's evil was more concrete, but that's a very little nitpick. There was so much I loved about this book that it easily outweighs just this one little thing.

I loved that Katsa grew into herself, not only in her skill and Grace, but as a person and woman. She is self-assured, independent and strong, which is an excellent role-model for young girls.

I loved that Po was able and more than willing to let Katsa be herself without trying to own or control her, and without asking her to compromise herself for him.

I loved the subtle feminist message in the book, and how Katsa isn't unprepared in matters of birth control. Good thing Randa thought to teach Sex-Ed in his kingdom, eh? ;)

I also loved the little homage to Jane Eyre at the end. Perhaps it wasn't meant that way, but it certainly reminded me of it.

I really could go on and on about what I loved about this book, but I won't. You should just read it yourself. :D
Reviewed: 2016-03-20
Good quick read, looking forward to reading the second.
Item Posts
@misselease
@misselease completed #graceling... on 2016-12-12
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@misselease began #graceling... on 2016-12-09
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@rayrei completed #graceling... on 2015-09-29
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@rayrei began #graceling... on 2015-09-28
@islandgypsygirl
@islandgypsygirl completed #graceling... on 2015-05-12
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@islandgypsygirl began #graceling... on 2015-05-08