Review: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
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.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more. (From Goodreads)
My First “Random Read”…
A couple of the girls in my book club really love this series so I’ve had Graceling on my TBR list for a long time. I bought it not too long ago, and then in June I decided to participate in Random Reads (Random Reads is a monthly meme, hosted by I’m Loving Books, where bloggers use a random number generator to find a random book to read for the month), and Graceling was my random pick!
A Must-Read If You Like Fantasy…
I haven’t read too much High Fantasy, but what I have read, I’ve really enjoyed, and Graceling is no exception! I was immediately enthralled by the idea of certain people being born with Graces, or special skills, and I loved how Cashore took it to the next level by having a female protagonist whose Grace was killing, yet she hates to kill and has created a whole secret council to fight the injustice in the world. It’s really kind of Robin Hood-esque, and that premise reminds me a lot of the show Leverage.
As if that premise wasn’t enough to make a compelling story on its own, Cashore throws in extremely complex characters as well as a mystery that the characters have to solve. And it’s not an easy one for readers to solve, which is really refreshing! A lot of the time when I’m reading a book, I have certain parts figured out way before they happen, and sometimes this can be annoying, but if the book is still written well it doesn’t bother me too much. But I didn’t have any problems with that in Graceling, because for most of the book I could tell that there was something big going on with the whole mystery, but Cashore would only reveal a tiny tidbit at a time, which made it that much more suspenseful, and also made it really hard for readers to make any type of guess as to what was going to happen.
And the characters were great. Katsa is strong and willful, but she’s not perfect and she definitely grows a lot in the story. Po is intriguing and has a very interesting back story. And Raffin is fun and was definitely one of my favorite characters! Even Po’s family members, like his mother, father, and brother, Skye, were complex and therefore fun to read about.
Cashore is also just an excellent writer. She takes seemingly mundane events and words them in such a way that just makes them so fresh. For instance, instead of saying, “Autumn is coming” or something like that, she says: “The days were beginning to shorten. The air would crispen soon, and the castle would smell of wood burning in the fireplaces. The leaves would crackle under her horse’s hooves when she went riding.”
Here are a few more of my favorite quotes: