Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, 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.
Let me start off by saying that I absolutely loved this novel. I thought it was well written, the voice and tone of the story was well developed, and the characters were awesome.
I loved the idea of people having certain Graces, and that if they're Graced they have two different eye-colors. I thought that was pretty cool. I also liked the fantasy setting Cashore set the novel in. The seven kingdoms and all. It worked well. Sometimes when people try to write fantasy it just doesn't turn out right, but I thought this brand of fantasy, for this novel, worked well.
Katsa was a strong main character. I liked her. I would've liked to have known a bit more about how she grew up, but all in all, she was a solidly developed character. She had flaws, which made her realistic. The reader can easily look past the fact that she can kill a man with her bare hands and relate to what she's going through. And I loved her Grace; I liked that it turned out to be a bit different than originally perceived in the beginning.
I also liked her relationship with Po. They had good chemistry and worked well on the page together. Their energies seemed to feed off each other. I think Cashore could've shown more interaction between them in the beginning, so their relationship didn't seem so rushed. Maybe that was just me. I kind of just wanted a bit more of a development between them.
Some of the secondary characters were great also. I loved Bitterblue and Raffin. They were great. And the villain was cool, too. I'd like to know why he did what he did, because no explanation was given (for obvious reasons) and with no indication of his motive, he isn't really as developed as he could be. He's just "the bad guy" with no reason why he's the bad guy, except because he's needed for the plot.
So, I loved the novel. For a debut, it was great. The characters Cashore set up are awesome, and I'm hoping they make an appearance in Bitterblue, because I know they're not in Fire. The ending? Amazing. I loved how she ended it. It left me, as a reader, highly satisfied, and as a writer, I appreciated the route she took to end the novel. I thought it was well done. And, Graceling isn't just a novel for young adults. I think plenty of adults could appreciate and love the novel, especially because the main character is an adult herself.
And the cover is gorgeous. Not as pretty as Fire's cover, but still pretty in its own way.
Overall rating: 9.5/10