Katsa is Graced with a special ability to kill. As a result, she’s used as a weapon by her King, a role that she does not want or enjoy. Eventually Katsa decides she will no longer be a pawn in a battle she doesn’t agree with, and begins to disobey the King’s orders. Then, on an unsanctioned mission she discovers a mysterious stranger in the night, and worries that by leaving him alive, she’s left herself in danger. But when this stranger shows up in her life again, they embark on a perilous mission in an effort to stop the greatest evil the 7 kingdoms have seen yet.
Filled with interesting and original characters, and based on a very unique concept, Graceling is the first book in what looks to be an exciting fantasy series. Katsa is a strong heroine who struggles with her anger, but learns over the course of the novel to not let it form her decisions. She’s also strong in the literal sense. Her Grace allows her to kick some major butt, yet she always tries to avoid harming others unjustly. Romance takes a back seat to plot, which is a refreshing change in the YA fantasy genre. There’s definitely some romance in Graceling, but none of the typical teen angst and endless swooning. One of the things I loved most about Graceling is that it was never predictable. Each time I thought I knew what was going to happen next, something completely different occurred. And while the story felt complete at the end of this novel, the author has set up the next volume beautifully – I’m not upset because I was left with a cliffhanger, and yet I can’t wait to read more.
I absolutely loved Graceling! The story sucked me right in, and I want to spend more time with all these characters. I’m very much looking forward to reading Fire, the next installment in the series.
*Graceling is book #8 for the 2010 YA Reading Challenge.