(Graceling Realm / The Seven Kingdoms #1)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Pages: 471 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA Fiction – Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….
Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.
Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.
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 shedespises: 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.
I was skeptical about Graceling after I started reading it. The beginning was painfully confusing and I had a hard time to focus on this book. And I still have issues with the names. I have no idea how to pronounce some of them correctly. However, the plot gets more and more exciting each page and I ended up enjoying this more than I thought I would – I dragged myself through Part One; I was grinning from ear to ear in Part Two; And I found myself pleased with the ending in Part Three (not exactly the kind that I wanted but it’s still good). Too bad I accidentally spoiled myself so this book was less surprising to me.
The concept is pretty interesting. In this world there are seven kingdoms. Some people are gifted with certain abilities called Grace and the main sign is having different eye color (you could say heterochromia). The idea of various kinds of Grace intrigued me throughout the book. Unfortunately, we are not told enough background and I was quite disappointed cause the Grace is not deeply explored in this book. I want more…
Katsa strongly reminded me of Katniss from The Hunger Games. I mean, they even have similar names. (I just realized that Po is Peeta and Giddon is Gale. I have NO intention of comparing these two series other than the names.) At first I hardly could connect with Katsa but gradually I started to like her. She’s graced with the ability to kill and she’s – as I expected – totally kick-ass. The other characters, like Po, Bitterblue and Raffin, are remarkable as well.
What let me down is the way Katsa and Po’s relationship turns out. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with not being married but I was hoping that Katsa would change at the end of the book. Anyway, that also proves that Kristin Cashore has created a consistent and firm character in spite of my disappointment.