Graceling – Kristin Cashore
Official Blurb from Kristin:
Graceling […] is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms, and none moreso than Katsa, who’s expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.
One of the most stunning novels I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, Graceling effortlessly takes the folklores and the fairytales we long believed we’d grown out of and makes them cool again. With the warrior “princess” that puts Buffy and Xena to shame, and a prince who could make you give up lusting after sparkly stalker vampires in a heartbeat, the book features a stellar cast of characters and a plot that will leave you breathless and reading till dawn. Let me put it this way – it’s the first book I’ve read since The Deathly Hallows that I smuggled into work so I wouldn’t have to stop =P
I was never one for fantasy novels (unless we count the somewhat universal love for Hogwarts et al) but Graceling has me singing another tune altogether. There’s some seriously stunning action scenes that make a film adaptation wholly unnecessary, and the emotions and romance portrayed seem real and pertinent to the story, rather than entirely too contrived (as many romances are).
My only complaint with this book would be that it ended too soon. Not that it misses anything out – I just wanted some more Katsa and Po in my life. Katsa herself is one of the most thoroughly convincing feminists in the genre, a refreshing change after a life of having the importance of “True Love’s First Kiss” drilled into us. She doesn’t need or even want a man, which makes her love for Po that much more convincing (and much less provoking for my gag reflex).
The cover was another nice surprise about this book. I’d been seeing snaps of it online for a while, and it didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. But the design’s actually quite intricate, and the image of the eye in the blade has a nice solid impact. A lot more alluring up close.
In case you can’t tell, I’m in total fangirl mode over this book, and I can’t wait for the “prequel” Fire to come out later this year (not to mention the sequel “Bluebottle” due next year). Buy it, steal it (except no, don’t do that), borrow it – do whatever you can to read this book. It’ll be the best thing you do all year! =D
A note to parents or younger readers: there’s a little bit of sex and gruesomely violent imagery in this… just a heads up.
Thanks everyone who told me to read this first! Best plan ever.