Graceling (Kristin Cashore)

Graceling is Kristin Cashore‘s debut novel. It’s a stand-alone (young adult) fantasy novel, though Cashore’s second novel Fire is a kind of companion book and a sequel/spin-off is being written.

Plot:
Katsa is Graced: a special and extreme talent. Unfortunately, her Grace is to kill. She has suffered her whole life for it, constantly pressuring herself to get herself under perfect control, while having to work as a common thug and contract killer for her uncle, King Randa.
But Katsa sees the injustices in the kingdoms around her and decides that she can atone for her Grace by setting some things right. Therefore she forms a council that works for the people.
But when Katsa and the council rescue an old man who has been kidnapped and Katsa meets another Graceling, a fighter, she soon has to see that something is really very wrong in her world.

I totally and completely loved Graceling*. Katsa is a great protagonist, the story is interesting and kept me engaged all the time and the book not only made me laugh, it also made me cry.

Okay, so the blurb says that this book will slake the romance thirst of Twilight fans or something like that (I don’t know exactly since I borrowed the book to deadra, so I don’t have it with me right now). To that I can only say: HA! I mean a) there’s actual, believable, cute romance in this book and b) there’s actual, believable, cute characters in this book and c) Katsa kicks ass. So, Graceling is probably the best antidote ever to reading Twilight.

Anyway, the pacing of the book is pitch-perfect: It starts out slow, pulls you into the world and suddenly you just can’t read fast enough to keep up with the plot and then there’s the ending and *sob*. I started reading it one evening, went to sleep, got on a train, got off the train 8 hours later after having read non-stop, went home and finished the last 30 pages or so of the book. It was that good.

As I said before, Katsa is great. She makes her decisions, she sticks to them and she always tries to do her best. But Cashore really has a gift to draw characters – Po is that well written that I didn’t think once of the teletubby. Raffin and Bann have their own backstory in my head. And Bitterblue is awesome.

Okay, I’m gushing, so I’ll cut this short. If you like fantasy, romance and/or great characters in a great story, you have to read this book.

*How great is it that I read two books in a row that I totally loved and how sad is it that it’s remarkable?

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10 thoughts on “Graceling (Kristin Cashore)

      • Yes, I did. I eventually got over the whole “telepathic Teletubbie”-issue…and it was plain sailing from then on :)

        The only thing I was slightly (and really only slightly) unsatisfied with was the pacing towards the end. She spends so much time setting up the climax, and how difficult it’s going to be, and then it sort of happens in a page and a half. I prefer my climaxes a bit more…er…climactic, I guess ^^

        • I actually really liked the way it ended, though I agree with you that the set up of the climax was definitely more spectacular than the climax itself.

          But I’m glad you liked it, too. :)

  1. i have been given 2 write a book report on graceling. i have 2 do it in a day and so far i have come 2 know this-
    Graceling takes place in a pseudo-medieval fantasy world where certain people are gifted with extreme skills called Graces.  You can tell a person is Graced by their eyes — they don’t match colors.  Graces can take many forms.  For example, a person can be Graced with cooking and work as the palace chef, or with mathematical ability and work as the only female accountant in all the kingdoms, and so on and so on.
    Our protagonist, Katsa, is Graced with killing.  Of all the possible Graces to have, this is probably the worst.  Graces like horse handling or gardening are harmless and even useful.  Killing, however is untrustworthy at best and dangerous at worst.  And for this reason, she’s forced to become her uncle, King Randa’s personal thug.  Is there a lord refusing to pay his taxes?  Send Katsa to break his arm.  Is there another lord refusing to give one of his daughters in marriage to a borderlord?  Send Katsa to torture him until one of the daughters break and agrees to marriage in order to save her father. As a result, people fear her and spread hateful stories about her that, unfortunately, are true.
    Katsa hates her existence, what her uncle makes her do, and that it effectively reduces her to little more than an animal.  In retaliation, she formed the Council, a multi-country network that helps people in need.  In this way she’s able to make up for the wrongs she’s committed on her uncle’s orders.  During one such Council mission, Katsa rescues the elderly father of a neighboring king.  No one knows why he was kidnapped, but the Council intends to find out.  What they learn is worse than they could have ever imagined….
    well, its a very exciting read, and i loved it.

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