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… – Goodreads
I love, love, love fantasy. So much. Sometimes I’ll throw a little somethin’, somethin’ between fantasy books to confirm my love (and make sure I don’t get tired of it), but I always enjoy these the most. Dragons? Yes. Courts and monarchs? Yes, please. Magic? Absolutely. Quests and journeys? Bring that sh*t ON.
There were no dragons in Graceling, but definitely plenty of corruption, intrigue, magic (of sorts), adventure, blood, and action.
Gracelings are rare people—with two different colored eyes, a Graceling may be Graced with any ability, whether it be something useful such as fighting or speed, or something such as eating a whole cake without getting indigestion. The useful ones are owned by the king. The others are sent away.
Katsa is Graced with killing, which makes her the king’s thug. He sends her on missions to kill, chop off fingers, break bones, and generally teach people a lesson who have crossed him.
After a secret mission, she meets Prince Po, a prince from another kingdom who is Graced with fighting. She doesn’t expect to befriend him—she’d never befriended anyone, as everyone was terrified of her Grace—but she does. And then other shit hits the fan, but I’ll let you read this and find out for yourself.
It took a chapter or two to really get into it, but I was stuck on a plane and had no choice. So I read. And read. And read until I finished it.
The description of places is alright. I had a rough time picturing the castle and grounds, but I got by with other images from other books. The best part of the worldbuilding was that of the Gracelings—it was very unique and unlike anything I’d heard of before.
I also loved the character building. Katsa, for one, came a long way throughout the course of the book, both physically and emotionally. She learns how to foster and nurture friendships, a skill she never had before. It was awesome to see her go from the strong person she thought she was to a stronger woman.
I also loved Po, who was sweet and good-natured, despite the hand dealt to him.
Overall, this was a fantastic read, and I’m already almost done with Bitterblue (Book Three—I wanted to learn about what happened to Princess Bitterblue, so I skipped Fire). I rated this a 4.5/5 on Goodreads.