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Katsa, niece of one of the seven kings of the Seven Kingdoms, is Graced with the ability to kill. It’s a heavy Grace to bear for anyone in a land where the Graced are feared and scorned, but especially for a woman. Trapped in the role of her uncle’s attack dog, Katsa doesn’t know who she hates more: her uncle or herself.
This book is officially one of my favourite books ever, and I will be recommending it forever to anyone who ever asks me for a book recommendation. This is the book I’ve been searching for, and when I read it I felt as if I were slipping into all of my thoughts and fears and hopes in book form, and I want to shove it into the hands of everyone so that they can understand what I’ve been feeling all these years but unable to vocalize.
Katsa immediately jumped onto my list of greatest heroines of all time. She has a lot of qualities that people consider to be “masculine,” namely the ability to fight really well, to hunt, and to successful accomplish all-around physical things, but she is not a masculine character, and I don’t just mean that she’s got the physical girl parts. Katsa (and Po) blur modern gender lines proving that in the end we’re all just human.
What I especially like about Graceling is that none of the controversial statement stuff is thrown in your face. Katsa doesn’t want to get married or have children, and that is a part of her character, but the story doesn’t feel all “LOOK AT ME I’M BEING FEMINIST!” Instead it’s all like “hey, there are people who feel this way and that’s normal even though there are those that think it’s not and you don’t have to be that way, but you can if you want.” Pretty sure that Prince Raffin is gay, but again the reader doesn’t feel as if they’re being forced to confront this issue: it’s just something that exists. Graceling is first and foremost a story, and the themes blend perfectly with that story.
The story itself is pretty excellent. There are several key events that in so many other books would mean that it would need to be split into some kind of trilogy with a bunch of filler. Graceling has no filler. I was never bored. I never questioned why a certain scene or dialogue had to exist. I was able to sit back and read and enjoy myself. When I had about 300 pages left I knew that it wasn’t going to be enough, and I was right. Given the chance, I would read that book forever.
And of course, my review would not be complete if I didn’t mention Po. I never thought I could fall in love with a character named Po, but I have. So hard. I need Po to exist. I can’t even explain how much I need Po to exist. His relationship with Katsa is my absolute favourite relationship ever because they are complete equals. Different, but equal. And I don’t understand why all YA relationships aren’t like Po and Katsa’s.
Please, please, please, please be real. I want to spend every day talking with you and walking with you and just being around you. You can bring Katsa. Actually, please do. Please let me be both of your friends. Or at least your acquaintances. I would settle for anything really.
Coffee & Wizards
Books with similar aspects
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
First Test by Tamora Pierce
(just…just read Tamora Pierce if you like Kristin Cashore, okay?)
recommended to everyone.
not recommended to …like I guess those under age…thirteen. Fourteen maybe. But once they reach that age/maturity level, they need to read it.
Don’t just take my word for it!
“Graceling by Kristin Cashore exudes awesome. It just pours off of each and every single page.” -April @Good Books and Good Wine
“First thought I had about Cashore’s work? ‘Why haven’t I read these books yet?’” – Jen@Almost Grown-up
“I loved all the characters. Katsa was a strong, modern, empathetic heroine. Her flaws were both frustrating and endearing.” -Lauren@Hughes Reviews
“I would definitely call this a must-read for fans of the YA fantasy genre.” – Marissa Meyer