Image and blurb from Amazon:
“Kristin Cashore’s best-selling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable yet strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace . . . and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonate deeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world.”
Oh Graceling. I looked at this book several times before actually reading it and I am SO glad I finally did! Katsa is a wonderful main character. She is a graceling, meaning that she is graced with special abilities like many other characters in this fantasy world. Katsa is able to kill anyone with her bare hands and is a skilled fighter. I absolutely adored Katsa. She was such a fierce, independent heroine and I love that I’ve been seeing more of that in YA novels. Everything about Katsa is intense. Her fighting, her relationships and her sheer will to survive and persevere through some impossible situations.
And Po, I loved Po! The romance was absolutely adorable. Po softens Katsa, and yet he understands and respects her. I personally didn’t love that Katsa was often too independent and stubborn with Po, but I think Cashore was trying to make a point about different types of love and relationships.
The story itself was exciting. A lot of great fight scenes and dramatic rescues. Much of the story revolves around Katsa uncovering the treachery of her kingdom. There was also a twist towards the end that I was not expecting! While I adored all the characters and their relationships, the world-building and story line of this book is really where it shines. It was so well thought out and complete for being a stand alone novel (Bitterblue and Fire are companion novels but the stories are different). Highly recommend this read. One of my favorite fantasy novels.