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Graceling Hardcover – October 1, 2008
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If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?
Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.
Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.
Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following beyond the last chapter of this book. (Ages 14 and up) --Heidi Broadhead--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—In this debut fantasy novel, Cashore treats readers to compelling and eminently likable characters and a story that draws them in from the first paragraph. In Katsa's world, the "Graced," those gifted in a particular way, are marked by eyes that are different colors. Katsa's Grace is that she is a gifted fighter, and, as such, she is virtually invincible. She is in the service of her tyrannical uncle, king of one of the seven kingdoms, and she is forced to torture people for infractions against him. She has secretly formed the Council, which acts in the service of justice and fairness for those who have been accused and abused. Readers meet her as she is rescuing the father of the Lienid king, who has been abducted. The reasons for his capture are part of a tightening plot that Katsa unravels and resolves, with the help of Prince Po, the captive's grandson. He has his own particular Grace, and he becomes Katsa's lover and partner in what becomes a mortally dangerous mission. Cashore's style is exemplary: while each detail helps to paint a picture, the description is always in the service of the story, always helping readers to a greater understanding of what is happening and why. This is gorgeous storytelling: exciting, stirring, and accessible. Fantasy and romance readers will be thrilled.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
I'm happy to say that I have been making some real progress with my TBR pile lately. *clap*clap* Graceling has been on my radar for quite a long time due to its widespread popularity, though it is only now that I finally stepped into Kristin Cashore's intriguing Medieval world - the realm of the Seven Kingdoms - and got to know these Gracelings who bear different colors in their eyes. With high expectations in mind, I started it off anticipating great things from Ms. Cashore and I'm glad that not one of them was left unfulfilled.
Katsa is a Graceling - someone who is exceptionally gifted in a particular skill, may it be dancing or swimming. But Katsa's Grace is far more unique than just mundane talents; she is Graced with the mastery of killing. With this unparalleled skill comes the neverending fear people project upon her, constantly reminding her that she is nothing but the King's royal thug, bent to his every will to torture and threaten whomever he wishes. As conflicting as it may seem, Katsa is also a rebellious soul who would go against cruelty and injustice time after time in hopes of saving those who suffer from the tyranny. It is when these two sides of her collide and crash into each other that we witness her evolving into the free and independent spirit we come to love even more.
No longer bound by her uncle's orders, Katsa sets destination for Monsea. There she intends to solve the mysterious kidnapping that prompted her and Po's first meeting. It is not easy to remain untouched by Po's charms. His kind and considerate nature, always able to find its way to soothe our nerves, traps us in his loving presence. Our affection towards Katsa and Po grows stronger as the distance between the two lessens, but not even the tenderest moments can take our minds off of the deathly encounter that would lie ahead - something much more frightening than the secrets they each hide beneath the surface.
Among all the spectacular pieces that compose Graceling as a whole, romance is the one that stood out the most for me. There can be no one who is more appropriate than Po for Katsa, I'm sure of it. He understands and respects her in a way no one else can (okay, maybe also Raffin). He knows what freedom is like to her, so much so that he would never dare to hold her back from anything, not even in the name of love. He is not just Katsa's lover or admirer, he is her source of support and tranquility. There was a time that I felt Kristin Cashore was planning to seriously injure or even kill Po based on where the story was going. As a result, I basically held off reading for a couple of days because I was simply not ready at all, both mentally and physically, to process something like that, not to mention accepting it. Though luckily for both you and me, Ms. Cashore picked another path instead, one that is equally heart wrenching but a hint less devastating.
While the two main characters in Graceling are portrayed superbly, the rest of the crew are a lot less fortunate. Although I enjoyed their company at the time, they didn't leave me any memorable impressions with Raffin being an exception. Another minor complaint I have with Graceling is that the ending isn't as grand as I expected. Considering the buildup is so irresistibly compelling, it felt way too anti-climatic and convenient in comparison.
I have often seen people labeling Graceling as "feminist propaganda" and I agree to that in some ways. However, even though there are indeed opinions and stances immersed in this book which I do not approve of, they did not stop me from enjoying this excellently-done high fantasy novel and you shouldn't let them stop you either.
The story of Katsa and Po ends here, but Kristin Cashore has much more to offer in the realm of the Seven Kingdoms. I'm eager to see what other incredible heroines and stories she has sprung up for us readers, and I will make sure to keep you all in the loop :)
Katsa is a strong protagonist who grows and changes over the course of the novel, but never becomes a "classic" princess desperate for Po to tell her how pretty she is, or who suddenly decides she does want to be a wife and a mother.
The characters stay true to themselves, and though this is the first book in a series, it does have a real conclusion. I've read it a couple of times now, and still really enjoy it.
Its almost a bad book to read for someone who has trouble staying in reality! But only almost! Po and Katsa are possibly my 2 favorite character's from any book! Po doesnt expect Katsa to act like a "lady" and loves her for who she is, only the strongest men have this ability, where is my real life Po?!. Katsa is so closed off in the beginning. It is like watching a child grow into an adult in Graceling. She is close minded, just doesnt know any better, and in fact because she is so open to change but still doing the right thing throughout that she is the best female character in any book I have read. Fans of Throne of Glass, and Hunger Games will love this book.