1 2 3 4

Review: Graceling

my thoughts in a few sentences: I was really in the mood for some hardcore fantasy and Graceling delivered with it's fascinating facets of a world as equally well-defined as the heroine. More, I hadn't expected to enjoy the sexy romance between two characters who become the closest of friends, a sweet relationship that sucked me into the story even more than the rest. Drawn in by Cashore's vivid, imaginative prose as well as her awesome array of characters, I'm looking forward to reading on in the series.

mysterious first line: "In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind."

Rating: Perfect Bed Partner | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt • Purchased • Fantasy • 10/1/08 • $9.49



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 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.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
I'm a fantasy buff through and through, and I've been receiving recommendations for Graceling since that little fact about myself became known. And I can see why so many bloggers were adamant about my reading the series! It really is one of those perfect fantasy novels that thrusts us into a world very different from our own, but still contains elements that help us relate to it and the people residing in it. It's quite clear that Cashore knows the world of the Seven Kingdoms extremely well, so much so that everything we encounter is as vivid and tangible as the trees or the buildings or the roads outside our door. And the characters are sorted into the pile of high-ranking characters we are most fond of resting in our hearts, until the day we decide to visit them again. While the length may strike us as a bit daunting, it's entirely worth the time it takes to read, because inside Graceling's pages live beautiful characters and a dazzlingly sexy romance that would be a great loss to endure should we refuse to ignore the length of the tale.

Katsa has always been deemed a killer, since an unfortunate accident when she was just a child that still haunts her. She views herself as a monster, unable to control her excellent killing ability. Her slow revelation to the contrary is painful and real and beautiful, and its with the help of her newfound friend, Prince Po (SWOON!), that she begins to understand the truth of her personality and her Grace. Prince Po is the confident, charismatic counterpart to Katsa's closed off, tough girl demeanor, yet they complement each other's strengths and weaknesses so well, so naturally. Po is not afraid to rely on her protection and Katsa slowly begins to trust someone outside of those who have become her family. Their deep loyalty to one another, and the romance that blooms along the way, is one of the most staggeringly stunning aspects of the entire novel.

Although romance plays an enormous part in loving a novel, so does emotion, and it's slightly harder to connect on an emotional level with Graceling. There's this distance that's difficult to pinpoint—perhaps it's the third person narrative. However, the plot is never short on action, a riveting slew of events that fans our interest in the story and never allows it to fade away. The hardships of their journey are more evocative than the major events, as we visualize an unrelenting Po and Katsa labor to save the world despite the necessary and trying sacrifices involved to bring that outcome to fruition.

The final few pages are wrenching in last discoveries and emotion, and even the hardest hearts will melt in sympathy for the extent of the losses of the main characters. However, our worry dissipates when clarity overcomes us and we recognize that those same characters are much stronger than we've given them credit for—which speaks so highly of them, given their bravery and backbone displayed all throughout. It isn't with ease that we say our goodbyes to this astounding cast and this phenomenal story, but we find comfort in the fact that we will meet again. This story is ongoing somehow and the characters will indeed surface anew.

He laughed. "I know you're teasing me. And you should know I'm not easily humiliated. You may hunt for my food, and pound me every time we fight, and protect me when we're attacked, if you like. I'll thank you for it."
"But I'd never need to protect you, if we were attacked. And I doubt you need me to do your hunting, either."
"True. But you're better than I am, Katsa. And it doesn't humiliate me." He fed a branch to the fire. "It humbles me. But it doesn't humiliate me." (181-182)

She would accept his protection after all, if truly she needed it. She was not too proud to be helped by this friend. He'd helped her in a thousand ways already.
And she would protect him as fiercely, if it were his need—if a fight ever became too much for him or if he needed shelter, or food, or a fire in the rain. Or anything she could provide. She would protect him from everything. (227)

14 comments:

Liz. R said...

I adored Graceling! So, so glad you liked it. I definitely agree that Po is a great counterpart to Katsa, and I loved it when they were together. I haven't read Fire yet, but I want to and I can't wait for Bitterblue! Great review :).

rogier said...

glad u liked it/ i so want 2 read it some time

Brodie said...

Yay! I am beyond happy you loved this, Asher <3 Oh, I absolutely adored Po and Katsa was such an amazing protagonist. And my gosh, those quotes you added to the bottom are making me want to drop everything and go reread! Fantastic review! 

Asher_Knight said...

PO. GAWD, he is total book boyfriend material. I've never met a fictional boy quite like him. Fire and Bitterblue are next on my lists, dude. I seriously can't wait to see what Cashore's been brewing all this time.

Asher_Knight said...

 You definitely should. It's so engrossing. AND THE CHARACTERS. I loved them so much!

Asher_Knight said...

 YAY another fan of the series. I'm all late about it, but I'm happy to be into it now. I understand what everyone's been trying to tell me.

And I totally get you. I dug those parts so much, I went back and reread certain sections over and over.

Erica said...

This one is great, but Fire and Bitterblue are even more awesome :) I love the whole "grace" aspect of this book.

Asher_Knight said...

Yeah, I've heard WONDERFUL things about both. And I got a keen recommendation for Fire, so I'm kind of dying to read it.

Mimi Valentine said...

"It really is one of those perfect fantasy novels that thrusts us into a
world very different from our own, but still contains elements that help
us relate to it and the people residing in it." <-- This is the most perfect description of this book I've ever read! <3 I definitely agree that it was harder to connect on an emotional level with this book (and I attribute this to the third person narrative as well!) but this book was just so amazing that it was easy to get past that! x)

Amazing review, Asher! Here's our tribute to Prince Po -- I can't wait until you read Fire as well! :) <3

Asher_Knight said...

Aw, thank you, Mimi <333 Yeah, I think there was just something marginally inaccessible about this particular 3rd person narrative. But, you're so right!

Woohoo, Prince Po. I'd star in Dirty Dancing with him xD

Fire and Bitterblue are on my lists, and I can't wait either, dude! :D

Sarah (saz101) said...

"Their deep loyalty to one another, and the romance that blooms along the way, is one of the most staggeringly stunning aspects of the entire novel."

Oh, Asher, YES! You've summed it up perfectly, and "Although romance plays an enormous part in loving a novel, so does emotion, and it's slightly harder to connect on an emotional level with Graceling. There's this distance that's difficult to pinpoint—perhaps it's the third person narrative." YES! THANK YOU! I actually think it's Katsa, as well... she makes strange choices at times, and she can be cold, because it's all she's mostly been treated with.

Ooooh, this is one of my favorite books and I'm so SO glad you enjoyed it! ♥

April Books & Wine said...

THIS!

Seriously thank god you finally read Graceling! I'm glad you liked it though :-)

And I have a very soft heart and was melted and emotionally connected very early on.

Awesome review, Asher. This is one of your best!

Asher_Knight said...

RIGHT? Wasn't Po the very best? I so <3 him. And it may be Katsa. While I admire her, there's something about her... A friend of mine said it really well: she's very well-defined, less gray areas to her character.

Asher_Knight said...

I know! I felt so lost not having read it. There's all this fan craziness for this series and I felt left out. Now, I know why so many people enjoy these books!

Thank you, April <3