Cashore, Kristin. 2008. Graceling. Harcourt. 471 pages.
In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind.
I loved this book. I did. It's YA Fantasy at its best. A story of seven not-so-perfect kingdoms: Nander, Wester, Estill, Sunder, Monsea, Middluns, and Lienid. The story of the Graced--and those royalty who seek to control and manipulate them. A story of a girl, Katsa, and the boy that loves her, Po. A story with secrets and betrayals. A story with plenty of punches. A bit violent? Maybe. But that's because our heroine, is "graced" with the power of killing. Or is she?! Who are the graced? Well, the graced are those born with two different eye colors. For example, Po has one silver eye, one gold eye. I can't quite remember what two colors Katsa has...(don't hate me!) but I know that those that are graced are often ostracized by others. It's hard for others to look them in the eye, to treat them as "normal." The graced are those with special abilities, enhanced traits. The power might be a gift with livestock or the power to read minds. True, a large part of the people's fear... for both Po and Katsa... is that both are graced in fighting, in combat. Po is the Prince--seventh prince--of Lienid. Katsa is the niece of the king of Middlun, Randa.
When we first meet Katsa she is on a mission. A mission to save an old man, a Lienid, a man in the royal family of that kingdom who has been kidnapped and held prisoner; he is the grandfather of Prince Po, though when she seeks out to rescue him, she doesn't know of Po. It is on her way out--mission successful--that she stumbles into Po. Though she knows that it would be safer if she killed him--he's a witness to her "crime" after all. Yet something about him makes her hesitate. She gets a feeling that they're on the same side. That he is not her enemy--witness though he may be. So she merely bonks him on the head and lets him be.
Doesn't sound quite like love at first sight, does it? Yet as these two born-fighters struggle with each other, train with each other, struggle with their feelings, a great love is born...but is it a love that can last?
I won't go into all the details. I don't want to spoil the plot. But life seems to have thrown these two together for a reason...and it will take everything they have for the good guys to win...this is one exciting read!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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