Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms #1) by Kristin Cashore 471 pages Published September 7th 2009 (first published October 1st 2008) Buy at Amazon
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.
There is nothing about Graceling I disliked. Nothing!
I was transported to this world that literally had me holding my breath. Katsa, Graced with the skill of combat, is fascinating. Throughout the whole book she changes, she grows, and watching her find herself is just…wow. It’s not a rapid change, she’s made mistakes, done cruel things, but gradually you see her start to question herself, with the help of Prince Po, she does things that she wouldn’t normally do, but his help is just the push she needs.
I can’t say I was emotionally invested with the characters at the beginning. Katsa is a stand-offish person, and it comes through while your reading. As she starts making friends, starts to open up, you start being drawn in as well- you become her friend. Po, Katsa, Raffin, and Bitterblue are all characters that grab you and in the end, you don’t want to let them go.
Can I say how awesome the Graced are? Born with two different coloured eyes, some silver, some blue, some black, but always different. The Grace doesn’t affect every one the same, some are skilled in swords, some in archery, some can predict the weather, some can read minds, it has me wishing for two different coloured eyes and a Grace in something spectacular and peculiar (plus a charming prince to keep me company).
The one thing I really like is how gradual everything is, it’s like hearing a big orchestra steadily building and the next thing you know your heart’s pounding. If you’ve ever listened to “Into the Storm” by Robert W. Smith, Graceling reminds me of it. I was really surprised at the main conflict, it’ll have you believing it’s not true until you have proof otherwise.
I can’t come up with anything else to make this an appropriate review besides telling you how much I enjoyed the story, the characters, the places, and seeing the characters transform into human beings.