"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

25 September 2012

Review: Graceling - Kristin Cashore

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?

The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...

My review of Graceling (3/5 stars):

This book took me a little longer to get through than I expected. I’m not completely sure why as I was looking forward to reading it and I did enjoy it, but maybe it comes down to the slow pace of the book as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this book and some of the concepts in it were so original but there was just something lacking in the characters and plot; I loved some characters and I hated others; I loved some bits of the story and weren’t interested in other parts. The book was lacking in complexity and despite it being exciting it just didn’t totally grip me and immerse me into the world. Despite this, I love books with a good adventure and this book was definitely full of adventure and excitement and I did enjoy my journey with Katsa, Po and Bitterblue.

I really liked the whole idea of the Gracelings, and I thought it was a brilliantly original idea that really had me interested from the start. Individuals whose identity is obvious by the different colours of their eyes, the Gracelings are skilled in many different things and our main protagonists Grace is both powerful and deadly. Katsa’s Grace is killing, one that evidently helps her survive but also a thing that she is troubled with as it allows others to control her for their own monstrous deeds. I found Katsa’s Grace intriguing but I also thought that it made some of the fighting scenes within the book a little anti climactic as she is obviously more deadly than all others.

Katsa was a tough protagonist to relate to. She is just so masculine in her personality and attitude and at parts of the story I was silently screaming at her to just to stop being so stubborn. Her opinions on marriage and having children are just so frustrating and one sided. I know she hates/fears control and manipulative individuals but I just believe that she could have marriage and children without fearing that she would be under the control of others. Maybe she is just too much of a free spirit and wants to be her own person in every way but I just wished her character would embrace other things than what she believed in at the beginning of the story. Anyway, I did admire her strength and determination and felt that she was a good female protagonist even if I did feel that she was a little challenging. Even though she went on a physical journey throughout the book I don’t think she changed much as a person except in little things like better controlling and understanding her Grace. She went through so much on her journey of self-discovery, met so many new people but still felt the same towards the end of the book as she did at the beginning. Maybe it was simply because as a reader I couldn’t relate to her personal beliefs but she was a challenging and exasperating character that I didn’t fully enjoy getting to know.

My favourite character of the whole book was Po or maybe Bitterblue. Po was just so cheeky and cocky that I couldn’t help but love him and he added a bit of mischief and comedy to the book which it needed. His relationship with Katsa was especially fun but also frustrating, but I did genuinely enjoy their interactions and actually enjoyed Katsa’s character more when she was around Po. Bitterblue was also such a cute and fun character and despite her age she was feisty and confident. At the end of the novel she had truly come into her own and a timid, scared young girl is transformed into a powerful and independent individual.

The baddie of the story is initially King Randa, Katsa’s manipulative uncle who uses her grace as his weapon, controlling his subjects and Katsa in the process. As the story progresses the main antagonist is revealed; King Leck, on the surface a seemingly kind and peaceful man who harbours a dangerous and deadly secret. He was a believable antagonist despite not being in the story physically but at one point in the story he really did send a shiver down my spine!

I think my favourite aspect of the whole story was the storyline in general. It was a fun and fast-paced adventure story in parts and I did enjoy travelling with the characters through forests, over mountains and through fields not knowing if danger lurked around the corner. The story never really sat still and there was always something happening to spur the characters and plot forwards. The one serious problem that I had with the story in general is that I never felt that the characters were in any type of real danger mainly because of Katsa’s Grace. I was never kept on my toes in anticipation, was never really surprised with the turn of events and this disappointed me in general and made the story a little anti-climatic. There was only one time throughout the whole story that I was really shocked and my shock barely lasted a few seconds because the problem was quickly resolved.

As to the ending of the book? Well I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so I can’t really say what I want too but personally I thought it was a good little ending that finished the story off nicely for some characters. For other characters I just wanted a little more information about their futures and then I would have been a little happier with it all. All in all, I think that Graceling was a fast paced, exciting story with a unique concept that was inevitably anti-climatic with a frustrating protagonist who barely changed throughout the whole story. Despite my concerns I would recommend this book to lovers of YA fantasy books who want to read an exciting tale with a unique twist, a feisty protagonist and strong characters.


  1. As usual, you wrote a great review. I really do enjoy reading them!

  2. Hi Becca
    You won my Giveaway- Come check it out! http://enchantedbyjosephine.blogspot.ca/2012/09/5-winners-of-robin-maxwell-giveaway.html

  3. I started this one and just couldn't finish it because of the slow pacing that you mentioned. Maybe I'll have to give it another try.

    Allison (Geek Banter)


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