471 pages, Paperback
Published on October 1, 2008
Summary: 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, and in her case horrifying, 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.
I know, I know, yet another review from an old book. Bear with my outdatedness if you will. Oh, also, for the sake of the review, I'm going to just say it's going to have spoilers. Sorry guys.
Overview: The Seven Kingdoms, a world where there are humans called Gracelings, Graced with abilities ranging from beautiful voices to amazing cooks, is the setting and Katsa, a Graceling Graced with killing abilities is the main character. Okay, when I saw the description on the back, I did a double take. Cashore really got out there when it came to the world she created. And it was also amazing. Katsa is an extremely strong protagonist who can most definitely hold her own. As the king's niece, she's protected (even though she doesn't really need it) and therefore the commoners don't bother her like other Gracelings. Because in this world, Gracelings aren't praised, but ridiculed. Which, I thought, was weird and annoying. If I met someone with those skills, I'd revere them, not think of them as a freak. But, moving on; The story is complicated and again, I apologize, I'm on my iPhone and am not capable of writing a really long, detailed review. I'll just summarize my thoughts. Katsa was a fantastic protagonist because, not only of her attributes, but because she was strong-willed and never let anyone keep her from her goals. Po was a sweetheart and I loved him from his first appearance. Cashore's writing was fabulous: detailed, vivid, and real. She went through pains to keep the story clean and uncluttered of unneeded facts and the world she painted was dangerous and meticulous in every way. A complaint : Katsa's sudden epiphany that she was in fact in love with Po was a tad bit unprecedented and came out of nowhere. While I liked their romance after her realization, it seemed unrealistic that she should, so suddenly, realize her infatuation with him. The twists and turns Cashore threw in were great. I totally didn't see the ending's twist coming. It was also heartbreaking, while keeping up the same air of danger and flare of suspicion at every turn. I just absolutely adored the story. It was amazing. Period. In my opinion, anyway. Another small complaint: Katsa's final decision to remain unmarried and not stay with Po. Okay, it's fine if you don't want to be tied down. But if she loved him that much, I believe she would have stayed with him and made sure he was alright. Especially with his newly found condition. Po was undoubtedly my favorite character, not only for his sweetness and his love for Katsa, but because of his strength and will to always go on, even when things got rough. And by rough I mean, really rough. Bitterblue, the rescued princess, was kick-ass and awesome too. By the way, the villain, King Leck, was freaky and definitely one of the last villains I'd want to face. But his end was a little hasty for me; I would've liked to see Katsa struggle more, instead of just fling a dagger and magically kill him. Lastly, the novel was a little graphic for me; I'm fine with gore (I was raised on horror movies) but I don't know that it was necessary in this case. Other than that, a spectacular novel. I've yet to get Fire, the book's prequel, but I will be getting it soon.
Cover: Oy vei, I wish I had the UK version. Gor-geous. 4 stars
Characters: 4.5 stars
Plot: 5 stars
Writing: 4 stars
Overall rating: 4.5 stars