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I Belong

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling

Author: Kristin Cashore

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Graceling Realm (Book 1)

Publication Date: October 1, 2008

Format: Paperback, 480 Pages

ISBN-10: 015206396X (Graphia/HMH)

ISBN-13: 978-0152063962 (Graphia/HMH)

Reviewed by: Kristie


Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of 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 Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

Quick & Dirty: Excellent journey set in a fascinating fantasy world. The story kept me hooked to the very end.

Opening Sentence: In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Katsa is a Graceling, someone who is graced with a strange ability but marked by their two different colored eyes. Katsa is graced with extraordinary fighting power that allows Katsa to kill people very easily. King Randa of the Middluns, who also happens to be her uncle, uses her to threaten and kill his enemies as needed but Katsa is a part of an underground Council that is rebelling against unjust Kings.

Graceling starts off with Katsa rescuing an old man from a dungeon by orders from the Council.  She has no idea why he has been kidnapped but she wants to make sure that whatever plan the man has been kidnapped for will not happen. Prince Tealiff is the father of a King and he has given up all rights over his rule so he wouldn’t be worth much as a ransom. As Katsa is leaving, she is surprised by a strange man who wants to know what she is doing at the dungeon. He lets her leave but not before she knocks him out.

Katsa eventually returns home after threatening a lord for King Randa. Eventually Prince Po of Lienid shows up at King Randa’s castle looking for Katsa and his grandfather, Prince Tealiff. Prince Po is the strange man that surprised her back at the dungeon. She is intrigued by him and his strength as Po is graced with superior fighting skill. She is able to spar with him without worrying too much about accidentally killing him.

Katsa realizes that King Randa doesn’t hold the power over her that she thought. She rebels from his authority and when she is expelled from the kingdom, she travels with Po to uncover the truth of why his grandfather is kidnapped. Po believes the answers lay in the kingdom on Monsea with Aunt Ashen the Queen of Monsea. Po and Katsa undergo a long journey filled with danger and heartache. Po and Katsa learn more about themselves then they thought possible and their graces are actually more advanced than they knew.

The plot begins with the mystery of why Prince Tealiff was kidnapped and evolves into a greater deception by a King. Graceling is action packed from beginning to end and the tension kept me hooked. This is very much a dark story with a girl who can kill without much of a thought and a psycho king who has no problem taking advantage of people.

Katsa is a strong character but she does have some flaws. Overall, I liked how she reacted and lived with her grace. I do think her idea of independence is way out there and she is a little whiney about marriage and kids but I think Po is her perfect match and she doesn’t really realize what she has with him. I will say that since this is a young adult book that their sex scene was the most non-graphic sensual sex scene I think I have read in a book. I loved Po, he is strong, sarcastic and realistic about who he is even if he has to hide it from people. His silver and gold eyes are to die for.

The world of Graceling is at times scary, freighting and fun. If you are a Graceling you are the king’s property until your powers develop. If you have a power helpful to the crown you stay the property of the king but if your power is useless you can go back to a normal life. The other countries are explained in detail but it was the travel through the land that made the Seven Kingdoms a magical place.

Graceling is a provocative and amazingly crafted fantasy. I have added Kristin Cashore to my must read list and can’t wait to see what is in store next.

Notable Scene:

Alone in the forest, Katsa sat on a stump and cried. She cried like a person whose heart is broken and wondered how, when two people loved each other, there could be such a broken heart.

She couldn’t have him, and there was no mistaking it. She could never be his wife. She could not steal herself back from Randa only to give herself away again—belong to another person, be answerable to another person, build her very being around another person. No matter how she loved him.

Katsa sat in the darkness of the Sunderan forest and understood three truths. She loved Po. She wanted Po. And she could never be anyone’s but her own.

The Graceling Realm Series:

1. Graceling

2. Fire

3. Bitterblue

FTC Advisory: I purchased my own copy of Graceling. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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