Sunday, 17 April 2011

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I was reading through book blogs, looking for a book with a strong female character when I found the recommendation for Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  Katsa, the heroine of Graceling, is certainly one of the strongest heroines I have come across.

Katsa lives in a world called The Seven Kingdoms, a place where some people are born with a Grace, and this is signified by having two different coloured eyes.  Katsa is born with the Grace of killing and the king exploits her skill to keep everyone in line, punishing his enemies and instilling fear in those who would disobey him.  Katsa becomes dissatisfied with her role of being the King's bully and questions how the King treats others.  Prince Po, who has the Grace of combat skills, visits looking for his kidnapped grandfather and he spurs on further changes in Katsa, namely whether to disobey the King, regain some of her humanity and accept the consequences of the King's wrath or continue to be a tool for the King and accept the consequences of suppressing her humanity.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed reading Graceling and tore through the book.  Even though I am not a fan of violence, I loved that Katsa could fight and win against 20 or so armed soldiers without even considering it to be a challenge.  Katsa is young, strong, and can fend for herself.

Katsa also embodies an interesting dichotomy:  she is so incredibly physical and has complete control over her body, but is quite stunted emotionally.   This is largely because she was found to have the Grace of killing at age eight and has been trained in this and been treated like a killing machine ever since.  She can confidently outfight anyone, but cannot stand up to the King and follows his orders even when she is turned into a senseless killer and a thug.  This is where the story gets interesting, watching Katsa develop and explore her humanity.

I love a strong heroine, and Kristin Cashore certainly succeeded with Katsa.  I enjoyed reading Graceling and watching Katsa grow, develop, realize her inner strengths, and think for herself.  I found myself engrossed with this book and was anxious to see what would happen next.

Kristin Cashore's writing was also great.  The world that she created was vivid and some of her descriptions were fantastic.  

Graceling is the first in the trilogy, the second book being Fire, and the third, Bitterblue, is yet to be released.
Here is the book trailer for Graceling from YouTube:

Book:  Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Harcourt Inc., 2008.

By the way, I am always on the look out for books with strong female characters, they don't have to be physically strong, like Katsa.  I would appreciate any recommendations that you have, so please leave a comment.


  1. I love strong female leads, tough girls rock!! Graceling is one of my favorite books!! Great review!!! You should definitely check out Maria V. Snyder's Study Series, Poison Study is the first book and it is amazing as well. Kristin Cashore's Fire is also a great read!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, I am going to look that up right now.

  3. I love strong femail heroins. They're rarer than I'd like in YA novels nowadays.
    Have you read Poison Study by Maria V Snyder? One of my favorite books, ever. The book is amazing, and Yelena is definitely a strong narrator. Definitely recommend!
    A tip: don't read any reviews about it on goodreads, because some might give away the love interest and one of the things I liked the most in this book was no knowing immediately who it was :)

  4. OK, I'll have to find Poison Study for sure now, two recommendations!

  5. This book was a real treat to read. It was interesting on so many different levels. There is a powerful heroine who undergoes a transformation, discovering a strength of character to match her physical strength. Watching Katsa mature through the narrative was wonderful. The political intrigue was surprisingly compelling, and the mystery that drives the plot (why was this old man kidnapped, and by whom?) really worked. The romance was captivating. Even though it is obvious where the romance is going from the very first encounter, it was skillfully written. The magical elements of the story are not overwhelming, but alter reality just enough to make for a fun, fantastical world. I found myself sneaking off to read more of this book, and I was sorry to see it end.

    1. I totally agree with you! What a great commentary on the book. I totally agree, I was sorry to see it end and could barely put it down. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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