- Kristin Cashore
In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?
The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...
This book started with one of those moments where you go 'hang on, this sounds familiar' and by the end of the first chapter you have remembered the whole story. A quick check through my books read record and yep, there it was, read June 2009. It is testament to Cashore's literary skills that despite knowing what was coming I still enjoyed the ride.
Graceling is set in a Mediaeval world full of castles, swords and Kings, where some children are born 'graced' with the ability to do amazing things. Characterised by different coloured eyes, these gracelings are beholden to their King for as long as he deems them useful, and are universally feared for their uniqueness.
Our heroine Katsa is feared even more than the others - her grace is killing. Used as her King's enforcer, Katsa is a killing machine, wielded as an unsubtle instrument in the quest for royal fealty. She is a thug with a conscience though, and after meeting Po, the graced Prince of another realm, whose grandfather was kidnapped under mysterious and apparently nonsensical reasons, she sets out on an unsanctioned quest to uncover some truths.
Katsa is an engagingly flawed character, by turns both delightfully childlike and emotionlessly thug like. Her romance is sweet and sincere, and the action satisfyingly meaty. Her grace does, however, make the perilous moments less edgy, as you are always confident in her abilities.
Overall, a very enjoyable read, whether on the first, or second, read! One for fans of Trudi Canavan, 8 out of 10