Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Series: The Seven Kingdoms #1
Release: October 1, 2008
How Received: Library
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.
Immersing ourselves in the world of the Seven Kingdoms was slightly confusing. There were so many kingdoms to remember, and it was a challenge remembering which king belonged to which kingdom. Even after reading the book, I only really know the kingdoms of Middlun, Lienid, and Monsea, as these three kingdoms were the primary focus of the storyline.
Kristin Cashore’s prose was elegant and she was able to weave a tale that I felt I was in. Her descriptions were perfect – exuding details to the very tiniest point. The pacing in this book was absolutely lovely – it was a very fast-paced novel. Time wasn’t a stranger in this book: we knew exactly how much time had passed during certain events, and it was easy to keep a timeline of what had transgressed during the main characters’ absences. The plot was fleshed out really well and it was easy to accept the concept of Graces.
The characters were written so in-depth; perfect, yet flawed at the same time. You could see the character development as time progressed. We got a lot of time to get to know the characters, down to their every nuance. Katsa is so strong-willed, yet very humble when it comes to the power she wields. She despises her Grace of killing and uses it as little as possible. She always does the right thing. Po was just a charming little doll. I loved him sooo much. <3 He was charming, witty, and a perfect match for Katsa. I sympathized with him so much at the end. Secondary characters, like Raffin and Bitterblue (how awesome is it that a princess has the name Bitterblue?), were easily loveable. Even characters, such as Bann, Skye, and even Giddon, were easy to like, despite the meager amount of “face time” they have.
The climax seemed a little... rushed, but I can see why it happened the way it did. The last pages after what happened in Lienid were... well, I have to admit they seemed unnecessary to the novel. Sure, we wanted closure and a lead up to the next novel, but I couldn’t help but think that it was just 50 pages of filler. But regardless, I'm really excited to see what happens in the next novel in the series (which I had the fortune to check out), Fire!
Cover Musings: So pretty. <3 The color scheme, the knife – even the eyes! Simple, but very lovely.
“‘It would look stunning, My Lady,’ she called, ‘with your dark hair and your eyes.’
[...] ‘If there’s anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I’ll hit him in the face.’” (pg. 63)
"‘What in the name of Lienid have you done to your face?’
‘It’s nothing, Grandfather. I’ve only been fighting.’
‘With what, a pack of wolves?’
‘With the Lady Katsa,’ Po said.”" (pg 85)
“A monster that refused, sometimes, to behave like a monster. When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” (pg. 137)
"Skye kissed her forehead. ‘You saved my life.’
Katsa smiled. ‘You Lienid are very outward in your affection.’
‘I’m going to name my firstborn child after you.’
Katsa laughed at that. ‘For the child’s sake, wait for a girl.’" (pg. 433)
Overall Comments/Final Thoughts: Graceling is a fantastic fantasy novel, full of twists and turns, ‘magic’, and adventure. The pacing was outstanding and I never once got bored. It’s a long book, but the pages breezed by and before I knew it, I was done. A definite recommend for other fantasy lovers, and for anyone who might be interested in trying out the fantasy genre. :)