Author: Kristin Cashore
Publication Date: September 7th, 2009
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: Deadly Grace
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 Graces 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...
“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”
Going into this book I had heard many great things about the world and the Graces, so I was really looking forwarding to reading this. Overall, I was not disappointed. The world that Kristin Cashore has built is vivid and beautiful. I loved getting introduced, at least to some extent, to all seven kingdoms in the world.
The idea of the Graces and children developing these abilities was really intriguing to me. Especially the differing acceptances and beliefs about the Gracelings. There are so many possibilities when it comes to a Grace. I also loved that the Graces did not seem to be just one thing, they could gave them multiple advantages and abilities.
As for the characters, I really enjoyed Katsa as a main character. While at times her blind faith in following Randa's orders really irked me, she had amazing character growth and development in this book. I loved her strength and her independence. It was refreshing to read yet another book with an extremely strong and independent female character. The cast of side characters in this book were also really great. Especially, Po and Bitterblue who we do spend the most time interacting with. I really loved that Po saw Katsa for who she truly was and worked with her as an equal rather than treating her as others in her life had. Bitterblue was another strong character. What she went through in this book would have crippled most, but she powered through it and helped Katsa in her own way.
My main issues, and I use that word lightly, with this book were related to plot and the writing. For starters, this book took a really long time to gain my interest. I definitely had to push through the first 75 or so pages until my interest was peaked. For me this was both due to my overall "meh" feeling about the writing coupled with a slow start with not much focus as to what the goal of the book was. After the slow start, the book did pick up and I was hooked on reading about Katsa and Po's journey. However, once it was clear what journey Po and Katsa would be following, I was quickly able to predict what was going to unfold for the last half of the book. This was disappointing for me since I'm not a huge fan of predictable fantasy books. Especially one with a world such as this that I really enjoyed. As for the actual writing, it was nothing special or extraordinary to me. I was really disappointed in it and the lacking feeling I was left with.
Giving this book such a high rating is probably being generous, but I did really enjoy the world and the characters. It was an enjoyable read and that is why I have given it such a high rating. However, I did wish the writing was better and the book moved at a better pace. I also do not know if I'm going to continue with the other two novels in the world because I have not heard many good things about the other two.
Let me know if you've read Graceling and if you think I should continue with Fire and Bitterblue.