Graceling (Graceling Realm, 1) - Kristin Cashore

Pages: 471 pages
Published: October 1st 2008 by Harcourt
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy 
Rating: 4 out of 5 


In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Thoughts:

In Katsa's world, there are two kinds of people: the regular folk, going about their mundane lives in a medieval world, and the Gracelings - people with special skills known as Graces. And while Gracelings are fairly respected in a kingdom like Leinid, being Graced in the Middluns - like Katsa - is bad news. It doesn't matter if you're the niece of the King; what matters is that you have an extraordinary skill no normal human should.

Some of the Gracelings have rather unremarkable talents. A Graced baker can bake the most scrumptious cakes. A Graced tree-climber can give monkeys a run for their money. A Graced swimmer can tread water not unlike a hammerhead shark. Despite these being unharmful Graces, ordinary people in the Middluns will avoid you like the plague the moment they see you have eyes of two different colours - the tell-tale sign of the Gracelings. They'll devour the excellent coffee crunch cake for sure, but they'll be terrified of the Graced baker. 

Katsa, unfortunately, isn't Graced with baking or singing. Hers is much more monumental, horrific and socially awkward - she can kill people with virtually a touch.

I know. That is not the sort of Grace your friend would take lightly . What if you accidentally sent them to death's doors with an innocent hug?

Katsa can reduce even the toughest of the King's soldiers to whimpers. The king - her uncle Randa takes full advantage of her Grace, sending her out to other lands to teach those who irk him a painful lesson. Her job ranges from merely breaking the fingers of nobles to pulling their arms out of their sockets. 

Does she enjoy this? Absolutely not.

Katsa starts a Secret Council which puts her skills to good use. But one such mission brings with it enigmatic questions, and to figure out the answers, Katsa travels with Prince Po - a prince of Leinid - undertaking a journey that would test her trust in him, and the notions she and the rest of the people believed true.

The action elements were gripping. Understanding the Graceling Realm through Katsa's eyes was an enjoyable experience. This is one of my favourite historical fiction novels, and if you liked the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta (you can read my review of the first installment here), I can guarantee you'll love the Graceling Realm series. 


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