Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 1st, 2008
Source: Paperback, purchased
Rating: 5/5 (97%)
How I Felt: This was my first ever fantasy read, I don't usually gravitate toward this genre because the unique worlds take a long time to develop, and I don't always have the time to dedicate building a whole new fantastical world in my head. But Graceling was fantastic! I instantly grasped the meanings of the world, and I instantly connected with the characters, which I didn't expect to happen. This is a great first fantasy book because it's easy to get used to the writing and the world. When reading other reviews of this book I found that most people found the writing style to be quite slow paced, but my feelings were quite opposite. I felt the story had a great continuous pace, and it never lagged for me at any point while reading.
In the Seven Realms there are seven different kingdoms, each ruled by a different king, but they all communicate and trade with each other. In this world, people also have the possibility of being born with a 'Grace'; some enhanced skill they can preform. These Graces range from something simple as being a good cook to being able to read minds.
Our main protagonist, Katsa, has the Grace of killing, so therefor she is used by king Randa, of the Middluns (also her uncle) to do his bidding, and to make sure not one citizen takes advantage of him, and also to rule his land in fear of his niece. Katsa has grown up in Randa's palace without a real family because she doesn't know what happened to her parents. Her only friends are her cousin Raffin, and her caretaker Helda, so she's grown up to be quite independent. By the end of the story you could tell how much she and the other characters had grown and matured over the short span of just one novel.
Throughout the story I could easily see so many admirable themes of independence, feminism, and being self-confidence. I really enjoyed how these were emphasized throughout the story, and that made Katsa a much more relatable character.
I really loved how each individual Grace was hashed out and explained for the reader's understanding. The explaining of both Katsa and Po's Grace was done really well, and didn't take too long for me to understand.
My favourite character overall would have to be Bitterblue. I just admired her strength, courage, and determination so much, especially since she was only 10 years old. I found her to be a character that even despite her age, I really related to her in some ways, and in others, looked up to her. I definitely look forward to reading Bitterblue, which is all about her story eight years after Graceling. Now without getting too spoilery my favourite scene would have to be when Katsa and Po talk to Grandfather Tealiff, there was just something about that scene that had me close to tears.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is hesitant about diving into the fantasy genre. I look forward to reading more books set in the Graceling Realm!
- “I'm not going to wear a red dress," she said.
"It would look stunning, My Lady," she called.
She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face.”
- “When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”
- “How absurd it was that in all seven kingdoms, the weakest and most vulnerable of people - girls, women - went unarmed and were taught nothing of fighting, while the strong were trained to the highest reaches of their skill.”
- “I'll teach you how to defend yourself, how to maim a man. We can use Po as a model.'
'Wonderful,' Po said. 'It's quite boring really, the way you beat me to death with your hands and feet, Katsa. It'll be refreshing to have you come at me with a knife.”
- “It seems better to me for a child to have these skills and never use them, than not have them and one day need them"
*Info on book taken from Goodreads.com*