September 4, 2010

Kristin Cashore: Graceling

Anyone who knows me may slightly drop their jaw as they read this in wonder that I had not read this book long ago. Do not be fooled. I read it recently as a reread. This is why, of course, that I had to blog about it. Who cannot love the beauty of Graceling?


In the world in which Graceling takes place, there are those people who are graced. The graced are a select few who possess great skill and strength with a particular talent. Sometimes this may be a very useful talent and sometimes not. In either case the graced are marked, one eye one color, the other eye, another. In the non-fiction world, I deem this as beautiful, but in Graceling's created world of fiction? People may shrink away from such a sight. These eyes are not lovely but feared.

Main character Katsa is both graced and a princess of the Middluns of the Seven Kingdoms. Though Katsa's a princess, her uncle, the king of Middluns, sees better purpose for his niece because of her grace: to be his "lady killer." More simply put, Katsa's job is the role of a killer who happens to be a woman. Her skill for causing death is widely known. This is how it is that the traveling and graced Prince Po of another kingdom has already heard of her reputation. Like Katsa, Prince Po possesses strong and impressive fighting skills. After befriending one another, Prince Po teaches Katsa more about herself in this tale of an incredible journey.


On first looking up this book and seeing what it was about, I worried that it might just be one of those books with a pretty cover. Sometimes that happens. We're sad when it does, but that's what we get for picking up a book based on the book's cover. Not that this was the case for my choosing to read Graceling! Some friends had really enjoyed it. How glad I was that such thoughts about pretty book covers were horribly incorrect involving this book. I later happily read it's prequel Fire, published after Graceling, with an equally beautiful cover and story.

Some of these characters are kind of incredible. Since I'm against spoilers, let's stick with Katsa. She's quite evidently very strong, quick, and smart. Sometimes because that her grace made her have to grow up too fast, she's almost inhuman, out of touch with how things like friendships work. This can be played out two ways. It gives her strength of course by her not trusting too easily, but it also is one of those things that can make her seem less dominant. Despite this, Katsa's the perfect gender-equality kind of character. Men don't have to be in charge of her world, which I think makes her a superb character.

Graceling has a lot of other great characters, too, and I am quite eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel to it and to perhaps seeing some familiar characters in it. I feel doubtless to having any objections whatsoever to whatever Kristin Cashore may have in store next. Bitterblue, Cashore's next book, is currently undergoing editing. The release date is unknown.

About Fire

It will probably be a while before I blog about Fire because I'm saving a reread of it for one of those 'rainy days.' I would rather blog about a favorite book closer to the time that I reread it. I will say that it's a beautiful story, one that I immediately loved from the first few pages, and I love it more than Graceling.

YA Fantasy Showdown

As some people may well be aware and others sadly not, there was a two-week long Young Adult Fantasy Showdown going on last month created by this blogger. I found it to be incredible and very exciting, enough that I could not stop myself from a Graceling reread. I missed the opportunity to vote for a couple of the rounds from being busy, but it was always in the back of my mind at the very least. The YA Fantasy Showdown introduced me to a lot of characters I had never heard of and I really look forward to reading their stories. I recommend that you check the battles out despite the battles being over. I intend to blog about a couple of those characters whom I read about for the showdown next. Though I still haven't read about all the characters, I picked up books for a decent amount of them and will likely blog about those ones at some point, too.