Publishing Info: October 8, 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 15, 2012
Related Posts: Jane, Unlimited
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...
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.
I loved it! And that’s exactly what I exclaimed after I finished the book and closed it. And hugged it.
- p 134: Katsa didn’t think a person should thank her for not causing pain. Causing joy was worth of thanks, and causing pain was worthy of disgust. Causing neither was neither, it was nothing, and nothing didn’t warrant thanks.
- p 187: (Po to Katsa, humorously) “And I suppose it never occurs to you to start small. If I told you my roof needed rebuilding, you’d start by knocking down the house.”
- p 202: Po sat back in his chair. His eyes flicked lazily around the room. He drank from his cup of cider, and his finger traced the wet ring it left on the table. He leaned his elbow on the table and propped his head in his hand. He yawned. He looked, Katsa thought, as if he only needed a lullaby and he would nod off to sleep. It was a good act.
- p 431: King Ror: “I have no doubt that you are more than capable of bringing the Monsean queen and my son and the rest of my sons and a hundred Nanderan kittens through and onslaught of howling raiders if you chose to.”