Graceling by Kristin Cashore

October 6, 2017     erinthebooknut     Book review

Graceling by Kristin CashoreGraceling (Graceling Realm, #1) by Kristin Cashore
Published by Harcourt on January 1st 1970
Pages: 471
Goodreads

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. And now she is forced to work as the king’s thug. But she never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po...

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.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the 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.

4 Nuts

I go back and forth on this book. Do I give it 4 or for and a half nuts? It is the start of one of my all time favorite series, the book that started it all. When I originally read it I loved the characters so much and I was angry when the later books did not feature Katsa and Po as the leads. And yet listening to it again, I feel those feelings again, while also I love Bitterblue and Fire more than ever.

This is the first time I have listened to the audiobook version of Graceling. Like listening to Bitterblue and Fire, it has given me an all new appreciation for the book, moreso since this one is a full cast performance rather than single narrator. Every cast member does a fantastic job, but especially Katsa.

Katsa is a very difficult character. I remember loving her when I first read Graceling and Bitterblue. Rereading and listening to Bitterblue as an older adult I found Katsa hot headed and stubborn to the point of unpleasantness. But that irritation with the character isn’t as full bodied while I listen to Graceling. Whether she is written more sympathetically in Graceling or whether it is due to the performer I’m not sure. I want to say it’s a little bit of both. But what I do know is that I actually like Katsa again, and I’m glad.

Po is just as sweet as he always was. Sure the liar reveal trope is there, and as overdone as it always is in YA. But Po’s sweetness, his earnestness and determination makes me forget how much it annoys me. He’s a great love interest, if a bit simple. Though as I’ve gotten older he has fallen off my book boyfriend list. I need much more interesting guys these days.

This book is certainly a must read YA fantasy, and you absolutely have to read it before moving onto Bitterblue. You can read Fire before this one, but I don’t recommend it because spoilers. Whle this book is certainly not as strong as some of the others in its series, it definitely doesn’t get left behind. The world is built fabulously in this book, never making the book pacing drag but also keeping up with the detail needed in this level of fantasy.

Honestly I think this book is better the second time around. Once you know what is going on you pick up so much more as you read, or listen. It has great reread value, and is good enough to keep me coming back again and again. This series sits among my all time favorite YA fantasy series for a reason. It has the perfect level of politics, intrigue, and magic to keep my brain happily engaged.

I highly recommend this book for fans of high fantasy stories, who love action and a great heroine who is not always in the right.

What do you think of Graceling? Share your thoughts in the comments.

From my shelf to yours,

Erin

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