Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy #1
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Release Date: 10/1/08
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Brooke at Brooke Reviews (my book dealer)
Read an excerpt
(Excerpts may contain spoilers)
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.
The Seven Kingdoms. A world full of mystery, treachery and magic. Those with special abilities, such as cooking, fighting or mind-reading, are known as Gracelings. Gracelings are easily recognized by their different colored eyes, and are exploited for their skills. Meet Lady Katsa, niece to King Randa of Middlun. Katsa, who possesses one blue and one green eye, is graced with Killing. Much to her dismay and disgust, her uncle is quite fond of her useful ability. Katsa is sent out on many a mission to try and ‘persuade’ others for her uncle, and has earned herself a fierce reputation. Katsa, however, is not one to be put in a corner. (Yes, that was a Dirty Dancing reference.) While she does not have the courage to stand up to her uncle in the beginning of the story, her journeys and adventures mold her into a Lady with iron confidence, bravery and a spirit that blinds you with pride.
Lord Greening Grandemalion, aka Po, is the 7th heir to Lienid, and has arrived in the land of Middluns. He and Katsa are very curious of one another, and Po shows interest in Katsa’s ‘secret’ project. They butt heads, as Katsa is quite different from any other lady in the land. She can’t be bothered with suitors, dresses and children. A turn of events occurs, and Katsa must leave the castle. She accompanies Po on his journey to uncover the truth about a recent kidnapping, yet they discover a whole lot more than they ever imagined! Their journey and adventures were some of my favorite parts of the story. It was very exciting, dangerous and thrilling times.
The budding romance in this book is so beautiful. The chemistry between Po and Katsa is evident from the beginning, but Katsa is not one to allow a man into her heart, as she has no interest in ever becoming someone’s wife. However, Po is quite a loyal, worthy, passionate male with some very interesting characteristics of his own. Their love is a slow build and it is one that makes you teary eyed days after reading it. Their dedication, loyalty and passion for the other is brilliantly portrayed.
The villain in this book is fantastic and has gone on my Favs list. His Grace is extremely difficult to ignore and it is one that travels among people, in a 6 degrees of separation sort of fashion. He could be across the world and you still run the risk of his Grace controlling you via people who have met people who have met people who have been in his presence. Get it? He was extremely creepy and a horrible, vile man. Another character worth mentioning is Bitterblue. She joins the story halfway through it, and becomes quite a presence. We first meet a scared, helpless young girl of 10 who desperately needs the protection and care of Katsa and Po. However, by the end of the story, she has morphed into a strong, capable, confident young lady. I found her full of spirit and spunk, and her growth throughout made me proud.
The prose was so whimsical, words carefully selected and scenes beautifully depicted. This author has great skill and passion and imagination. I am sad that this is her only body of work. After she finishes book 3 of the trilogy, I hope she continues to share her creativity with the world. In short, Graceling is a phenomenal book. There are some twists in the tale that really add to the fantastical elements already present, and turn this tale into one that will keep you up for hours as you devour the danger, passion, courage, dedication, treachery and ferocity found within the pages. I was not prepared for the power, complexity and pure fierceness that was Lady Katsa!
“I’m not going to wear a red dress,” she said.
”It’s the color od sunrise,” Helda said.
”It’s the color of blood,” Katsa said.
Signing, Helda carried the dress from the bathing room. “It would look stunning, My Lady,” she called, “with your dark hair and your eyes.”
Katsa yanked at one of the more stubborn knots in her hair. She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. “If there’s anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I’ll hit him in the face.”
“You won’t even take your bow? Are you planning to throttle a moose with your bare hands, then?”
“I’ve a knife in my boot,” she said, and then wondered, for a moment, if she could throttle a moose with her bare hands.
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