Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore ★★★★

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Seven Kingdoms Trilogy #1
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
ISBN: 015206396X
Page Count: 471
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: Audiobook

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.

REVIEW


A great book, and an amazing audiobook.

Firstly, can I just say how much I enjoyed the audio narration for this? It was a full cast audiobook so there was a main narrator and then separate male and female voice actors for the characters' dialogue. It was like listening to a play, it was so good! Why can't all audiobooks have both boy and girl narrators? Why world?

Graceling is essentially a swords and sorcery-type YA fantasy with romantic elements set in the completely made-up world of Seven Kingdoms. It follows Katsa, a young lady on her road to self-discovery, and Po, a fellow Graceling and a total sweetie pie.

What is a Graceling? Well, it's someone born with the gift/curse of having a 'Grace,' which is similar to having a supernatural ability of some sort. For example, Katsa's 'Grace' is killing. Not the prettiest of abilities, certainly, but something that her uncle, the King Randa, has put to good use ever since it manifested when she was a child. Katsa is more or less unbeatable in a fight. Even outnumbered. I dread to think how much you would actually have to outnumber her to win, but at the last count, 8 men wasn't enough. So it's safe to say she's pretty badass,! But other than her ability, she's no stronger than anyone else; just faster, with lightning quick reflexes and good instincts for danger.

Then there's Po. A boy/man of a similar age to Katsa (around 18-20) who is a Graceling, but also a Leinid. The first one Katsa has ever met. Leinids have a completely different outlook on Gracelings than the rest of the realms where they are largely treated with wary caution at best, or outright contempt and distrust at worst. In Leinid they are revered for their gifts. Watching the two characters deal with their differences was great and I grew to really like Po and could empathise well with Katsa. My only complaint where Katsa is concerned is that she wasn't as giving of herself as Po was willing to be. But maybe the next book(s) will change that.

The story takes Katsa and Po on a journey where they uncover an evil lurking within the Seven Kingdoms. It's also an emotional journey for Katsa as she goes through some changes and makes a few revelations along the way.

This kind of genre is one of my favourites and I usually have no issue with them being YA. In this case, however, I almost wish it had been an adult book so that we could have gotten a bit more fear and tension built up, and maybe a closer look at Katsa's Grace. But of course, with it being a YA, it was not nearly as violent or bloody as you might expect a story about an assassin to be.

I'm looking forward to the next book, Fire, which I will also be getting in audio format. Can't wait!

4 Stars ★★★★

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