Thursday, 11 June 2009

Book review - Graceling by Kristin Cashore

When Katsa first killed a man with her bare hands, she was eight years old. Her one blue and one green eye had indicated that she was graced but until then, no-one knew what her gift would be. The court were afraid of her, but her uncle the king saw Katsa’s potential. She soon becomes his personal thug, reputed through the seven kingdoms as his bloodthirsty brute. Katsa can see no escape. She never wanted to kill anybody, but gradually gives up on open defiance.
She can see the injustice around her though, and seeks to anonymously improve the lot of others. When the Lienid King’s father goes missing, no-one can think of anyone who would want to kidnap a harmless old man. Katsa’s determined to help, and soon finds that at last she has met her equal in a strange Graceling man whose powers match hers. The deeper they search, the more sinister the reason for the kidnapping seems to be. The trail leads to yet another kingdom, and a strange king.

I really enjoyed this, despite the fact that the plot veered in a direction different from the one I expected. From the blurb, I assumed that Katsa’s story would be about her stealthy and growing defiance to her uncle – I expected a bit more court intrigue. Instead, much of the story is taken up with a journey, travelling between the seven kingdoms. I confess I’d have preferred the court intrigue, but not by much. The plot is interesting and kept my attention.

Yes, as others have said, this is yet another book with seven kingdoms. Yes, some of the names are stupid. Others bloggers have used the name Po as an example, but I have to mention the little girl Bitterblue. Despite the painful contrivance of some of these names, Graceling also has successful creativity. The idea of people with different coloured eyes being ‘graced’ in some way is certainly to me completely unique and an interesting premise. Graceling takes this clever world building and adds an adventurous plot. It did feel a bit of a ‘quest’ book, but there is nothing wrong with that other than over-usage, and Graceling is different enough in other ways that it doesn’t matter.

Overall, an entertaining and enjoyable read. Kristin Cashore has created a world that readers will want to return to. Despite my disappointment in some areas, it held my attention. I just feel that it had a bit more potential.

* I suppose I should mention that it has some sex in it. It would probably be a 12A in movie terms.


  1. I really want to read this book! Thanks for an honest review. You have some awards:

  2. Cool review! I've heard very good things about this book. I'm not a big fan of weird people & place names, but hopefully I'll be able to overlook that.

  3. Thanks for the interesting and detailed review!

  4. Amazing review! I really want to read this now!

    P.S. You won some awards at my blog -

  5. I like that name, Bitterblue, it's nice. And I don't exactly have a name like Jane myself. :P

  6. Loved this book-though i must admit, it dragged a bit at the end. I was amazed at how iomaginative this was. It made me wish I wrote it. And she's a debut author too! Fire is gonna be even better, I bet...
    Po is awesome, and I like his name!! :-D

  7. I guess you probably already know this, but Po means "butt" in German. Which is why I laugh everytime I read about it.

  8. I didn't know that Lenore and I bet the author didn't when she wrote it either!

  9. Oh I saw the book trailer for this a while book and it intrigued me. I'm glad I finally get the summary of the book too now!!! It's sound interesting and I do want to read it XD
    Btw, I'm doing a give away on my blog