Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has a Grace, and she is the King's Graceling.  Her Grace could have been anything, it could have made her an expert baker who always cooks the perfect meal, or a singer who never sings off pitch or out of key, it could even have made her a seamstress with perfect stitches and an eye for colour - but Katsa got none of these, her gift is death and killing.  Since she was a child Katsa has honed her fighting skills, learning how to take down a man with her bare hands, to use blade and bow to bring down the enemies of her King.  But her King is not just, and he uses Katsa as a weapon against the people who have crossed him or made him angry - she has broken bones, cut flesh, and killed people in public displays of blood and gore that leave the people terrified of her and her Grace.

As a way to deal with the rage building inside her Katsa began finding ways to work around his orders, ways to save the people she was supposed to hurt - a quiet rebellion that slowly grows into the Council.  Now Katsa is on a mission for the Council that will lead her to a disturbing discovery - and Prince Po, another Graceling who may be the only person who has given Katsa a fair fight .  But Po also makes Katsa realise other things, she is not the Kings dog to do his bidding, she has her own thoughts and wishes.  In a kingdom where she is not only the King''s niece, but also his property, Katsa makes the decision to refuse to serve him adn begins a journey that will lead to self discovery and acceptance.

Drawn into a mystery and conspiracy, Katsa travels towards the kingdom of Monsea, determined to solve the mystery of Po's kidnapped grandfather.  What they discover pushes Katsa and Po to their limits, and forces Katsa to examine what she knows about her Grace and herself.  Katsa is more than she knows, and it may take the thought of losing what she has found to realise that she was never what people thought she was, and even more importantly she was never what she thought she was.

Graceling is one of the books that I re-read every few years because I love the rich tapestry the story is built on, the detail that emerges throughout the story to flesh out a kingdom where to be born with a Grace can be both a blessing and a curse.  The Katsa we meet at the beginning of the story is essentially a slave to her uncle, he owns her because all of the Graced automatically belong to the King, but she has never let it beat her down and she finds ways to rebel against him.  When she stands up to her uncle it is just the beginning of the story, a quest that will see her push herself to the limit and become more than she ever thought she could be.  At times the language of the story is a little stilted and formal, but the strength of the story and the characters makes you forget.

I didn't realise that Graceling was being made into a movie when I picked it up to re-read it, but it deserves to be as long as they can keep the story true to form.  There is a lot to love about Graceling, and very little to dislike - and I sincerely hope they don't ruin the story with the movie treatment!  While there is a strong sense of "grrl power" with his novel, it is one that is just as palatable for the guys with lots of fighting, conspiracies, and action.  Graceling seamlessly blends together a variety of genres into one irresistible package that you will feel teh urge to read again, and again (and again).

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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