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Graceling Hardcover – October 1, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,468 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Graceling Realm Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001TODO54
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,468 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,249,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was a real treat to read. It was interesting on so many different levels. There is a powerful heroine who undergoes a transformation, discovering a strength of character to match her physical strength. Watching Katsa mature through the narrative was wonderful. The political intrigue was surprisingly compelling, and the mystery that drives the plot (why was this old man kidnapped, and by whom?) really worked. The romance was captivating. Even though it is obvious where the romance is going from the very first encounter, it was skillfully written. The magical elements of the story are not overwhelming, but alter reality just enough to make for a fun, fantastical world. I found myself sneaking off to read more of this book, and I was sorry to see it end.

BUT. This is billed as a book for 14 yo and up, so I think it fair to warn parents of elements they may not want their young teen to encounter. There are a couple of fairly discreet sex scenes, where the author is clear about what is going on but not very detailed. There is also a mention of a brothel near the beginning of the book (although a more offensive word is used to describe it) and there are many incidences of unwanted attention paid to girls or inappropriate comments made about them. This is a plot element, since it makes the lead female character defensive of the young women.

Also, and this is probably the "biggie" for conservative parents, Katsa rejects the concept of marriage, and there are several times when one or another character implies that it is a yoke that will force a couple to stay together regardless of their actual feelings.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Graceling is an engrossing read with wonderfully interesting characters and I enjoyed it on many levels. I won't summarize the plot again for this Amazon review, but the author offers some interesting thoughts on talents and personal agency that are insightful while telling a good story that can be taken at surface level for a light read if that's all you seek.

The book has a satisfying romance that is neither mushy nor too remote. It rang more true overall than most relationships that have been in my recent reading. It's not primarily a romance, although the romance is a strong secondary plot that provides some of the motivation for the characters.

About halfway through, I began to wonder about it being YA since the characters do not come across as teens. I had to go back to the copyright page and check the recommended reading age to verify that, yes, it is being promoted as YA for ages 14 and up. Really, it is a toss up either way. Not that YA isn't mature and wonderful--I read a lot of it after all--but it could have just as easily been marketed to adults. I think the majority of readable fantasy is in YA these days.

I highly recommend the novel but I have to do so with a warning. If it matters to you, the book has a rather anti-marriage message in it which fits the main character's personality, but will be the most problematic element for some readers.

Graceling is well-written with some grand adventure, musings on talents, as well as characters who actually grow and change as they learn more about themselves. It never goes for the cheap shot in action sequences although they aren't the focus of the story. In other words, I liked it. Even the few philosophies that I didn't agree with made me think. That makes it a book worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Upon receiving my copy of Graceling, I had absolutely no expectations based on the summary. By the end of the third chapter, my expectations rose dramatically.

Graceling is about Katsa, the niece of a king, who has an extraordinary strength in combat skills. This extraordinary skill is called "Grace". Others may also have a "Grace" although the abilities vary from person to person. Some "Grace" skills are more useful than others, but all Gracelings are marked by their mismatched eyes.

Because of her unique and useful skill, she has become a henchwoman to her uncle Randa who is one of the seven kings of the world. It isn't something that she enjoys but it is something that she has come to accept.

While on a mission for The Council to retrieve the Prince Tealiff, she encounters another Graceling whose presence makes an impression on her.

Later, she encounters him again and learns that he is Tealiff's grandson and a Prince in his own right. The meeting with Po will prompt her to make a decision that will change the course of her life and her world as she and Po learn more of their Grace powers and of treachery and madness that lay within the corridors of another kingdom that will threaten the already fragile political stability of the seven kingdoms.

It sounds like a typical fantasy novel and to a large degree it is, but Graceling is so confidently and smoothly written that it felt fresh and new.
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