Graceling

GracelingGraceling by Kristin Cashore
Genre:
Fantasy, Young-Adult, Romance
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published: October 1st 2008 by Harcourt

In a world where people born with an extreme skill – called a Grace – are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graces 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.

Review:

I’ve had Graceling a long time and I’ve finally got around to reading it as part of my TBR-intervention scheme. I didn’t know what I was expecting from this book, but I found it thoroughly entertaining, and fell just a little bit in love!

Cashore unveils the plot gradually and builds up the world as the story moves along and I appreciated the feeling and grit of the fantasy world. Whilst we ploughed straight into the actual story and didn’t waste time building up the world to start with, it took me a while to assimilate to the actual world of the book. However, once I did, I found the story flowing and engaging at every moment.

Fantasy is a genre that I dip into now and again, but actually really love when I read it! I felt like Cashore created a fantastic fantasy world. We are set up with seven kingdoms and Katsa lies in one of these seven, serving her uncle Randa. In serving Randa she travels across all seven kingdoms and we really witness an medieval feel with castles, sword fighting, hand to hand combat, trading ships and lots of other aspects. I feel like these things all make up a true fantasy world. Nevertheless, I felt like we lacked a little bit in knowledge about all the seven kingdoms and the organisation of the world, so I hope this will become more apparent as the Graceling Realm series continues that the seven kingdoms evolve into something bigger.

Katsa is certainly a strong, kick-ass female protagonist and I appreciated that she could fathom things out herself and defend herself. When it was necessary she had to divert her protection to others such as Po, but this came in only moments of real dire need. Katsa never failed to shoulder the stress, pain and work that some female protagonists certainly do in being ‘weak and vulnerable’ females. However Katsa is graced with the art of “killing”; this is not all it seems and makes for some very interesting development in Katsa’s character. As a leading character she makes a very noticeable progression and whilst she left me disappointed by the end of the story with the way Cashore wrote her, I could applaud her for sticking to her decisions firmly. In some instances I feel like my respect for her would have decreased if she’d have chosen to move back on the front she’s argued from the very start of the novel! Katsa is a very easy character to like and she becomes very endearing by the end of the story, especially with her friendship with Po and Bitterblue. In some ways Katsa reminds me of Katniss from The Hunger Games with her protective instincts and sturdy foundations as a character.

Po was cheeky, smart and totally irresistible. I fell in love with him from the very first moment we met him and I couldn’t help but vent my anger in certain parts of the novel where they came across trouble. However his self-pitying act at the end and his lack of taking firm control with Katsa over his feelings really annoyed me! And I felt like I was always waiting for more from him. He may have been the perfect, smart and caring character, but he had flaws that frustrated me to no ends. Ultimately I understand his self-pitying act at the end of the novel, but it became a little tedious for the couple of chapters it spanned over. I also felt like it was never truly resolved!

Raffin was a character I also really liked. My complaint here would have to be we never saw enough of him. He brought many light-hearted moments to the early part with Katsa when she was incredibly serious. I hope to see more of Raffin in the near future, because as the future king to the Middluns, I find it hard-pressed that we will not see him again.

Of course this young-adult novel contains romance, however this is very much NOT at the forefront of the novel, but I do think it added to the story. It was not insta-love. Although I felt like hitting Katsa for her behaviour because she reflected Katniss’ stupidity about love throughout the novel and I don’t think is necessarily a bonus point for young-adult novels: the female protagonist being stupid not to realise how many people are in love with her, it almost reminds me of Bella from Twilight which pains me to say! However, the fact that the romance had a progressive movement and still was being left open by the end of the novel could certainly indicate a new direction to young-adult romance because I don’t feel like there was sufficient conclusion to this romance. I hope these two will be witnessed in future novels as background characters to see their development.

Overall, I felt Cashore has a well-written, engaging young-adult novel that has set up a great start to the series and should go far. I had a few discrepancies whilst reading, but I wouldn’t say this deterred me from my overall enjoyment of the book. I’ll be looking forward to the next one when I get my hands on it and I’d suggest to fantasy and young-adult fans alike to pick this book up because it’s not one to be overlooked!

My Rating:

4 books

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15 Comments

Filed under 2008 Publication, 4 Books, Fantasy, Harcourt, Kristin Cashore, Paperback, Romance, Young Adult

15 responses to “Graceling

  1. Pingback: TBR Intervention (2) | Nerdy Book Reviews

  2. mollyspring

    I hadn’t seen that cover! It must be the UK version? There’s more of Raffin in Bitterblue (which I liked even more!) And I hear Fire is fabulous too.

    • nerdybookreviews

      Yes, I assume it is since it’s the one I have! 🙂 Woooo. I’m very glad to hear that we get more Raffin! Isn’t Fire the second one?

      • mollyspring

        Fire was the second one released, but you don’t have to read them in sequential order. Fire makes an appearance in Bitterblue, but you only get a hint of her backstory, not the full tale.

        • nerdybookreviews

          Ahhh, I prefer to read everything in sequential order. I’m rather pedantic about these things! haha. Well I’ll be looking forward to reading both of those stories.

  3. I’m glad you liked it! I just finished it the other day and felt very similarly – Sometimes I just wanted to smack Katsa in regards to her obliviousness (is that a word?) that people actually liked/lover her. I loved Po, but I agree with the self-pity. That really put me off at the end, but I’m glad it (mostly) got resolved. I loved Raffin too! He brought such a great element to the story.

    • nerdybookreviews

      Certainly! haha. She needed to open her eyes with the aid of a good smack. I hear there is much more Raffin in Bitterblue and that Fire gets much better. However somebody else said to me they didn’t enjoy Fire as much, so we’ll have to see. Will you be continuing with the series?

  4. Glad to see you loved this one too, Olivia, even with the romance left the way it was. I seriously need a TBR intervention as well. Fab idea! 🙂

  5. The cover confuse me because it’s not the cover I’m used to seeing. It’s my first time seeing this cover but I really like it. I thought it was a new book, lol.

    I’m glad Katsa is a strong female protagonist (even if some parts of Bella sneak through in).

    • nerdybookreviews

      Ahh, I believe the cover is the UK version. haha. I like the cover too!

      Yes. It’s nice to see a strong female protagonist.

  6. I’ve read Bitterblue and am just now finishing Fire. I do really like these books and I need to get my hands on Graceling. I like the world building and really interesting characters that Cashore creates. I do agree with you though, that there is very little explanation of the seven kingdoms and how they all interact with each other on a broader scheme. It is touch on in the books, but not made fully clear.

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Ahhh, well bizarre how you should start with the third book! haha. I’m glad you liked these though, because I really liked Graceling. I need to get my hands on Fire and Bitterblue, but hopefully the foundations in Graceling will clear things up a little more. I do like the world building in general though.

      • Yes, I read the third book first, but as they are more companion books then exactly in sequence it hasn’t hindered my enjoyment of the world. It maybe has added to some slight confusion, but I eventually figure it out.

        And so far, I’ve enjoyed Bitterblue the best. But I reserve judgement until I read Graceling.

        • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

          No, I heard they were easier books to read out of sequence, but it’s something I don’t like doing personally. I just can’t bring myself if they have number orders unless I don’t know.

          Well I’ll look out for what you have to say in terms of Graceling! 🙂

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