Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, 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…
I was so excited to start reading this book and thought that it was going to completely blow me away. The idea of people having “graces”, which were special powers, such as a grace for killing, or a grace for mind reading, or a grace for hearing, etc. was so cool; they were sort of like medieval superheroes. Only certain people were born with a grace, and if they were, they would have two different coloured eyes – which let’s be honest, is pretty badass! In Katsa’s (the protagonist) case, she has one green and one blue, and she has a grace for what we thought was only killing (but it’s later revealed to be more than that). And then theres Po, the handsome Lienid Prince, who has one gold and one silver eye (even cooler) and a grace we initially thought was fighting, but turned out to be a super mind reading, which basically let him anticipate attacks before they happened. Oh, and they have sex (awesome).
I loved being taken to a different world of Kingdoms and Castles, with a female character who was strong and beautiful, but after about halfway through the book I started to find Katsa a bit annoying. I felt like the love between her and Po was interesting in the beginning, but then it sort of fizzled out. Leck, who was the evil king with a grace that basically controlled what you thought, only appeared twice in the whole novel and was made out to be oh-so-powerful, but was suddenly killed so easily. Then there was Leck’s daughter, Bitterblue, a 10 year old girl who didn’t think or speak like a girl her age (fair enough, it is a fantasy novel), that needed to be saved by Katsa and Po. Then whole novel just seemed to focus on Katsa and Bitterblue and forgot about Po, who was my favourite character. The descriptions and pace began to get really boring (I can only sit through a description of snowy mountains and animal fur for so long), and the end of the novel seemed a bit rushed. I finished the book with such an unsatisfied feeling, even though it was sort of a happy ending, it just wasn’t not the one I really wanted, and I didn’t feel the love between Katsa and Po. I didn’t even want to read Fire or Bitterblue (which are companions to Graceling).
It was such an amazing concept and could have been one of the best books I read this year, but it just came up short. I love books with heart warming romances and happy endings (I know, I’m a sucker), which this book didn’t really have and I felt like the values portrayed were slightly overly feministic. Nonetheless it was a pretty fun read!
- Overall rating: 3.5/5
- Storyline: 3.5/5
- Romance: 3/5
- Characters: 2.5/5