Saturday, April 14, 2012

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore

Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Level: Teen
File Size: 611 KB
Print Length: 481 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 015206396X
Publisher: Gollancz (November 20, 2008)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group
Language: English

Graceling is set in a mythological word where some individuals have special powers. These people are called Gracelings and are marked by the colours of their eyes. Gracelings are feared and used as weapons and tools by the Kings that rule the lands of this world.

Katsa is graced with killing which manifested when she was 8 years old and as a result was used as her kings thug to strike fear and terror into the hearts of his enemies, and subjects.

What I liked
Katsa is likeable and fun to read. Despite her terrible Grace she is a gentle soul who cares deeply about her friends. One thing I liked is that she is both confident and insecure, interesting and flawed. On one hand she is this amazing fighter yet on the other fails to notice that a guy likes her. As you could imagine with her Grace she has not had the best life so she does not always have the most optimistic view on people sometimes, however she can still show a criminal kindness which I think say's a lot about her as a character.

A strength of her character is her reliance on herself. She is an independent woman who is smart, confident and physically strong, admittedly her grace helps but also it is her character. This is also a flaw discussed later but I found it refreshing to see a teen fantasy book which didn't have a simpering idiot as the main character.

The first half of this story sucked me in and I wanted to know more. I kept reading and reading till the middle. Then it got a tad slow and teen romancey, which is fine, but to me didn't add much to the over all story. Then the story picked up again and I forgot about the slow boring bit in the middle. The majority of the story was fast paced action. Cashore can write some pretty good action scenes.

The world created is a varied and interesting one. The reader got to learn parts of it through Katsa and in this way I think she was perfect as the point of view to introduce the reader to the world. Katsa had not travelled beyond her own lands so the ways of other people and cultures were revealed through her and as a result came across feeling natural, not like you were having a tonne of information dumped on you.

What I didn't like
The "modern" feel of her character did not really sit well with the story as a whole. I am not sure why, but it just felt off to me. I am afraid it is not something I can put my finger on other then some of the views Katsa held and things she said just didn't vibe with my mental picture of her through out the book. While I am glad she wasn't a simpering idiot at the same time Katsa's views just didn't vibe with her world. At least for me it didn't.

Also then ending seemed a little bit of a let down. I suspect that the author will revisit these characters and elaborate more on events after this book in her upcoming 3rd book (or perhaps later in the series). But after all the action and drama leading up to the end the actual book ending felt rather flat.

The book was great and would happily recommend it just about anyone.

However  please note there is a big theme which is reiterated over and over about no marriage, no kids, use of contraception. There is a reason for it (revealed in the book) but nether-the-less it is there. This might be a big problem for some, and I have seen some very negative reviews or comments in regards to this on Goodreads and Amazon.  There is also some intimacy scenes which for me were rather tame but given the other themes this might be a bit much for some. This is just a friendly warning for those who object to these themes or find them offensive.


“I'm not going to wear a red dress," she said. "It would look stunning, My Lady," she called. She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face.”  
“What she really loved was to hang over the edge and watch the bow of the ship slice through the waves. She loved it especially when the waves were high and the ship rose and fell, or when it was snowing and the flakes stung her face.”

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