Sunday, August 16, 2009

Book Review: "Graceling" by Kristin Cashore

"His eyes. Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn't shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn't seem human....

Then He raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed."

In a world where people born with an extreme skill-called a Grace- are feared and exploited,. Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middlunds, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meet Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no idea 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 -or a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.


Ok, well....I have this habit about reviewing books that I like a lot and those that I absolutely love. "Graceling", I loved! It's books like this that I can not put down, similar to the other books I have reviewed (Maze Runner, Alvor). Graceling takes place amongst 7 Kingdoms (and some water). They are: Nander, Wester, Middluns, Estill, Sunder, Monsea, and Lienid, which is detached from the other lands, accessible to only by boat. Katsa, the main character is raised and serves under her uncle, King Randa, in the Middluns.

A person who is "Graced" is one who possesses a special gift of a supernatural ability. However, one may be Graced in something as insignificant as baking, sewing , dancing, or gardening etc. When I say insignificant, I am comparing that to those Graced with more significant abilities that are feared by people across the lands, for example, those graced in swordsmanship or extreme fighting abilities or the ability to read minds. As all of the kings have the Graced under their courtship, the few with the extraordinary Graces are kept close by the King's side and are utilized to often carry out dirty or extreme work that can not be handled by the anyone else.

Katsa, who was feared by almost everyone across the kingdoms, was known for her "killing" Grace. Ever since she was around 8 years old, she discovered that she could kill a man with such ease that quite often they didn't even see it coming (and at the time didn't mean it). Over time, with practice, she sharpened her skills, learned to use weapons, and became one of, if not the most dangerous people in the 7 Kingdoms, always being able to strike before her opponents could even have time to think of what to do.

Ok, so the story begins when Katsa is out on a routine mission for King Randa in Sunden, land of King Murgon. Her job was to take out the guards and clear a path for the others who joined her on the mission. It was a rescue mission, as they were there to get the Lienid King Ror's father, Tealiff. No one had know why he was taken nor where he was hidden, but they had located him. After doing her job, she was leaving the kingdom when she ran into someone while exiting the gates of the kingdom. Let's just say that she had no problems getting past him, but something was strange about him. His tone of voice, his demeanor, just the way he did not fear her as everyone else did.

Shortly after, while back at the Kingdom, a random man, Po, who happened to be the same gentleman that Katsa had seen while exiting the gates of King Murgons, showed up asking questions about his missing grandfather. After all, he was a Prince from another kingdom and was welcomed there. He began to pay a bit of extra attention to Katsa (well, just bit of extra when they first met, as the story progresses, so does their......umm, pg-13 rated site for one another!?!?). Po, as well as Katsa, was Graced. His grace was the extreme ability to fight. Or is it????

Well, I do want you to read the book, so I will make the rest fairly short. (and trust me, I'm leaving plenty in between out). Po and Katsa travel through the different Kingdoms looking for clues as to why his grandfather was taken and what was the purpose of it. At some point, they had traveled to Monsea, the land of King Leck's to see Po's Aunt. Although Po was Lienid, his mother had married King Leck many years ago.

Upon arriving, something immediately goes terribly wrong. Po and Katsa watch Po's Aunt running towards them and just that instant, she was shot in the back by one of King Leck's own arrows. He shot his own wife in the back. What was more bizarre was that he began to immediately tell the people around him that it was a tragic accident and he meant no harm and kept rambling on about it being an accident until the people including Katsa believed him. It was only Po who was unaffected, not able to be sucked into the Grace of King Leck, the Grace to take away people's own thoughts and clog their minds with what he wants them to believe.

Now is when I can really speed the story up for you and still get you psyched to go read it. King Leck and Po's Aunt had a daughter Bitterblue, Po's cousin. Po and Katsa found her and saved her from the horrible things Leck was going to do to her. The ultimate plan was for Katsa to take Bitterblue back to Lienid, back to Po's castle to keep her safe.

By this point, Katsa knew that Po's "Grace" was not really his fighting ability. He had a different Grace completely. It was this Grace that allowed him to be such a great fighter, however it was not a fighting Grace. (I have to leave some things for you to be curious about. I will tell you this, he is not a "mind reader" but there are times that he and Katsa speak without using words and it's a pretty cool Grace to have!)

When they Arrived at Po's castle his family was not overly cooperative with Katsa or very welcoming either, even though she had pure evidence that Po had not only sent her, but loved her as well. There was a reason for this...Had they thought she killed "their" Po and came to claim whatever she could from his castle? Perhaps it was something they knew about Bitterblue that Katna didn't? Perhaps they had thought this was a trick from King Randa, sending the most feared of all Gracelings to the home of their son?

The answer could possibly be one of those, or none of those, but either way, I will tell you that you can find the answer in the book! Book 2, which is out in October of this year titled "Fire" is actually the prequel to Graceling. It takes place to the East of the kingdom's mountain ranges approximately 30 years before Graceling, in a place where no one has either gone to, or entered from, for now........ And, book 3 of the trilogy, tentatively called "BitterBlue" will probably be out in 2010 and takes place a short time after "Graceling".

So, I did love this book. I left a whole lot out as I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but at the same time, I do want you to get excited about it.

Remember, that if you have a chance to read this over the next month (after the 2 current contests end), please do, as we are giving away a brand new ARC of the highly anticipated "Fire", the prequel. You will not be able to put this one down either and it should be an easy read for you.
Please let me know if you guys think my reviews are good, bad, stinky, great, whatever you think, please critique me. I am not a pro writer, although you never know, so any feedback I can get in which I can learn from would be great. So far, most of you have told me my reviews were pretty good, but just like in almost any profession, your only as good as your last post!



  1. I think the best part of this book was the "Graces". They were varied and unique, and not what I expected. I guess I thought there'd be something like a "flight" grace, a "teleportation" grace, stuff like that, basically giving them X-Men powers in a fantasy world, but instead they were more like knacks or talents that were really revved up.

  2. Graham,

    See, I agree with you, although i did love the book, I could also think of some cool Graces that would have rocked...You would like "ALVOR"..The twins get magical powers and go through training (which was my fav part). And im not just saying that because Laura is cool. As a matter of fact, I had expressed to her that as a reader, she has laid the foundation to take advantage of those and show us some cool stuff!
    I still liked Graceling, but you are definitely correct


  3. You did get something wrong. It wasn't Po's mother but his aunt. That's okay though. I thought the review was great. There are so many good things in this book you just have to go in depth to really even give people a gist of what the book is about. Katsa is such a strong character and she can take care of herself and others better than most men. That she isn't dependent on guys like most other books is so refreshing. I'm a complete feminist. I love fantasy books set in a different time were its a bit archaic with using swords, bow and arrows, and horses. You entirely immerse yourself in this book. I can't wait to read Fire.

  4. Rachel,
    Thank you! Already fixed it. I was on the fence when I was writing it, as most of it came from memory ( I read it about a month ago) and my daughters were running around playing, so it was kinda hard to think. But...thanks so much, and I did fix it! Glad you check it out.


  5. Rachel ,

    I just signed up to follow and posting link to your site now!


  6. I have not read this yet but hope to. It looks good and something about the cover draws me in!

  7. Ok... wow! That sounds like an awesome story! Thanks, Dave. ^,^ This review has most definitely gotten me psyched up to read this book and perhaps even look forward to the prequel. Only a pro writer can make that happen, I expect.

    I mean, the characters sound cool and the thing with Graces is awesome (it reminds me of the book SAVVY where everyone's special talent is called a "savvy"), but the way you presented the story was the thing that convinced me that this is a fantastic book to read.

    Can't wait for the contests to end. 3 more weeks! ^,^

  8. I also enjoyed this book. And I am looking forward to its companion--Fire! I have not read Alvor, but now I want to.

  9. Now I'm going to have to buy it. Thanks for sharing your review.

  10. No problem guys! It is a great book. Even though "Fire" is the prequel, I would still read "Graceling" first. Just my opinion....Also, JESSICA, we will be giving away a copy of "Fire " when these 2 contests are over. If you want to stick around and enter, you never know, but I have the copy already from Penguin sitting upstairs and am just waiting to post the contest!


  11. Love the book, GREAT review, sorry it took me so long to comment with kudos. Whew! Life is crazy sometimes... Any who, great post! Keep up the good work! :D