Published on December 11th, 2012 | by Emma0
The first book in the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy.
Katsa has been able to kill people since she was a young girl. Her Grace, a skill set provided to her from birth, she believes is to take life. She is put to work by her Uncle, King Randa of the Middluns, who uses her to threaten, maim and kill those who displease him. But after Katsa meets Po, another Graced fighter who finally matches her in skill, she starts to take charge of her life, and in the process of doing so realises things about her Grace that change her entire perspective on life and death.
Once Katsa decides to walk her own path, she finds herself on the scent of a conspiracy involving Po’s family. It takes them across the seven kingdoms through plot twists you just can’t see coming, and against a villain that threatens everyone with his abilities.
Katsa is a formidable character, and fairly good role model for young readers who are, like Katsa, trying to find their place in the world and are just learning to stand up for themselves. For, even though Katsa is a courageous, strong girl who is already making decisions for herself when we first meet her, she is fairly timid when it comes to questioning authority figures. Only once she starts to claim her freedom does she start to become the person she really wants to be. It’s a journey all of us have to take. My main grievance with Katsa’s character is her rage and her attitude: although understandable, it does begin to grate on the reader after a while, especially when directed at Po or towards her poor horses. At many times, her frustration with the way her society runs was completely understandable, and by the end of the book, Katsa had grown on me so much that it really didn’t matter as much. Overall, because of her flaws, she seemed like a very real character, which is pretty fantastic for a debut novel.
Po is an incredibly sweet character. He is quiet, steady, and simple, and manages to illicit curiosity about his past, his family and how he became who he is. His journey is a less than satisfying one as he disappears about two thirds of the way in, but I don’t see how Cashore could have brought his story to completion any other way.
Cashore’s writing is strong and clear, but there were moments that seemed to drag, especially around the middle. There are numerous moments in the mountains that had me wishing I could skip ahead, but Cashore’s story world is so unique that these moments redeemed themselves in the end.
Although Graceling is a Young Adult novel, there are some adult themes and issues that are touched on or discussed in detail, and so it might not be suitable for some of the younger readers of YA.
Kristin Cashore is an American YA author. Graceling debuted in 2008, with Fire (2009) and Bitterblue (2012) following after. She blogs at This Is My Secret.