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A young adult fantasy book by Kristin Cashore.

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A Girl with the "Grace" of Killing

  • Mar 2, 2009
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"'I don't kill men who steal three acres of lumber from the king', she said, 'and then pay for it dearly in gold. It's more the sort of crime that warrants a broken arm or the removal of a finger.' She moved toward him and pulled the dagger from its sheath. He breathed slowly, staring at the eggs and fruit on his plate. She wondered if he would vomit or begin to sob. But then he moved his plate to the side, and his overturned glass and his silver. He stretched his arms onto the table before him. He bent his head, and waited." -- From Graceling

I can't recall when I first read about Graceling by Kristin Cashore, but what I DO remember is that I was so intrigued by its premise (a land where some are born with two differently colored eyes and have an extraordinary "Grace", hence the name "Graceling"), that I made a note of it.

I kept the title at the back of my mind, looking for it in bookstores when I remembered to seek it out (unfortunately, I never came across it in brick-and-mortar bookstores), and then added it to my Amazon WishList.

Despite having loads of books scattered about my house, mostly for review, I wanted to relax with some good fiction--my personal type of "escapist" reading. So I bought Graceling from Amazon...and began to read.

Early on we discover that Katsa is graced with killing (or is it that *really* her Grace?), and are plunged immediately and relentlessly in her timeless, unusual world.

In Middluns, some Gracelings are essentially useless (read: of no use to the king), and are allowed to live with their parents. But in the kingdom of Middluns where King Randa presides, those whose eyes "settle" into two different colors--and show a potentially useful Grace (such as mind reading, fighting, swift running, enormous strength, or incredible vision) are sent to live in Randa's court...and to serve his whims and wishes.

I won't spoil any of the juicy details by providing too much plot, so fearless reader, you may read on!

Towards the beginning of Graceling, the plot seemed bogged down with kingdom descriptions and Katsa's initial treks to do King Randa's bidding. In fact, when I had a back injury that confined me to a recliner for days, I just couldn't push my way through those parts--so I didn't pick the book up for several weeks.

Now, had I received Graceling through the Amazon Vine program (for free), or perhaps picked it up at the library, I would have put the book down and likely not have pick it up again.

But you know how it is when you pay full price for something...you're much more inclined to stick with it, to get your money's worth and all that.

And I am SO glad I did!

I just finished Graceling, and it was one of the finest fiction books (Young Adult OR Adult) that I've read in a looong time. Halfway through the book, where the action really notches up, I began to realize WHY author Cashore establishes some of the characters and environment as she did in the beginning--the parts I previously thought were slow and a tad boring.

I became thrust in Cashore's well-drawn world, eagerly looking forward to breaks in my day to steal away some time to spend with Katsa and company. Let me tell you, dear reader, there is SUCH a great payoff in the end (several, actually!), that I felt not only gratified at the time spent reading Graceling, but also satisfied at how the author "resolves" some of the issues presented in the book.

Although this book is recommended for ages 14 and up, I think maybe it should be for teens 16 and up (because of violence and other...um, situations...both actual and implied).

With a strong, likable heroine owned by no one, Graceling explores what it means to be human--and how trust, friendship, and love can shape and soften the "wildness" of a girl led to believe that killing was her only "gift"...and value.

P.S. I highly recommend that you DO NOT watch the "trailer" for Graceling here at Amazon.com! It includes spoilers in my opinion. (And I envision Po to be a whole lot hotter, to boot!)

-- Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book

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review by . November 28, 2010
I loved this story, despite my issues with the audio version that I'll get to at the end of this review.   It was fairly easy for me to sink into Katsa's world from early on in the book, her feelings regarding her grace and what she was made to do with it, and how she saw herself as a person. I loved how her feelings changed after she met Po, and she started seeing things a little differently.   The romance between Katsa and Po was believable and not overdone imo. A lot …
Quick Tip by . August 06, 2010
An engaging young adult fantasy novel with an believable heroine.
Quick Tip by . August 04, 2010
Great new supernatural world by a new author. Try also "Fire," her other book. You can tell that they are Young Adult novels, but that's one of my favorite genres. There's a third coming out next spring, I think.
Quick Tip by . June 04, 2010
Enjoyed it until the last couple of chapters, which felt unnecessary to me. But over-all was good. Some really good moments.
review by . February 15, 2010
"Graceling" has been highly recommended to me by a number of people and so I have to say that I was stunned that I didn't find it to be the fantastic read that everyone else did. What makes this even harder to understand is that I read Cashore's "Fire" first and quite liked it.    My first observation was that I was over 100 pages into the book before anything of note seemed to happen. Yes, there was the evil king, and there were the sidekicks, the introduction of the love interest, …
review by . May 06, 2009
Katsa's Grace (a special ability she possesses that is indicated by the dual color of her eyes) rules her entire life. She is Graced with the ability to kill, and is forced to be her corrupt uncle's assassin. Discontent with her life and her actions, she begins the Council, whose mission is to aid and protect citizens from their power hungry and sometimes ruthless leaders. It is while she is on a mission for the Council that Katsa rescues Prince Tealiff, the elderly father of the Lienid king, who …
review by . July 05, 2009
I fully admit to picking this book up for the gorgeous cover originally. Then I placed in my pile of TBR and forgot about it for a few weeks. I picked it up again this past week and read straight through it in two nights. The story moves along, each new plot thread blending with the previous ones so that you're not certain when (or if) something ended.    The book itself is divided into two parts. Part One, 'The Lady Killer', focuses mainly on establishing our main character …
review by . April 26, 2009
Katsa's Grace (a special ability she possesses that is indicated by the dual color of her eyes) rules her entire life. She is Graced with the ability to kill, and is forced to be her corrupt uncle's assassin. Discontent with her life and her actions, she begins the Council, whose mission is to aid and protect citizens from their power hungry and sometimes ruthless leaders. It is while she is on a mission for the Council that Katsa rescues Prince Tealiff, the elderly father of the Lienid king, who …
review by . March 08, 2009
Feel free to ignore my opinion as I didn't make it past page eleven before returning this book to the library. I picked it up because a friend recommended it and the idea sounded interesting. However, I have a thing for believability even in my fantasy novels.    First, the fight scenes aren't very realistic. (One of the very first fight moves the heroine does don't sound possible to do as described...at least, not without getting a leg cut off.)    Second, …
review by . January 13, 2009
Graceling is not a classic, but it did keep me up into the wee hours reading it the other night. I couldn't sleep, and this book was an excellent companion.    This novel can't compare to more involved "adult" fantasy (think Tolkien or Tad Williams) but it is entertaining and the characters interested me. The premise of the "graces" (a magical skill that could take any form) is a good one, and I like that they have differently colored eyes that set them apart from the normals. …
About the reviewer
Janet Boyer ()
Ranked #195
Author of The Back in Time Tarot BookandTarot in Reverse. Co-creator of theSnowlandDeck. Amazon.com Hall ofFame/ VineReviewer; Freelance Writer/Reviewer; Blogger; Professional Tarot Reader/Teacher; Lover … more
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About this book


If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?

Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.

Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following ...

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ISBN-10: 015206396X
ISBN-13: 978-0152063962
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: Children's Books, Teens
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (October 1, 2008)
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An Abundance of Katherines

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