“Graceling, my debut novel, is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms and none more so than Katsa, who’s expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.”
—taken from the blog of Kristin Cashore (http://www.kristincashore.blogspot.com)
Published October 1st 2008 by Harcourt, 471 pages
Set in a captivating world, Graceling is an action-packed fantasy novel that is sure to get you hooked from the first page. The plot revolves around finding out why Prince Tealiff, who is a Lienid and Po’s grandfather, was kidnapped and who kidnapped him. Later, the story becomes more intense when Katsa and Po discover that the king of Monsea, King Leck, might be harbouring a secret about his identity.
The characters of Graceling each have their unique traits and my favourite character would have to be Katsa. I enjoyed reading about Katsa’s growth as a person in that she learns to stand up against her uncle and fight for what she believes in. For instance, when a man refuses to give one of his daughters in marriage to a borderlord despite Randa’s request, Katsa goes against Randa’s orders and does not hurt him because she does not feel that the man should be punished.
As the story progresses and we meet new characters, we see Katsa grow into someone who is more than a ruthless brute. Not only does she act in the consideration of how her actions will impact her loved ones, Katsa also forms a sisterly attachment to Bitterblue, the princess of Monsea, whom she feels protective towards. In the journey that Katsa and Bitterblue make, Katsa often offers Bitterblue her food and even fashions a coat and boots for Bitterblue in the fear that Bitterblue will not be able to withstand the harsh winter conditions.
I particularly liked reading about Katsa’s character development in the sense that later on in the book, she learns not to see herself as a brutish thug. Initially, Katsa resents her Grace as it results in her slaving for Randa but eventually, Katsa comes to appreciate her Grace as it helps her and Bitterblue survive a perilous journey.
Overall, I think Graceling is a novel that is weaved together with beautiful words and an enthralling plot that would definitely be worth your time.
-Samantha Balraja (4G)