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 was excellent. I need to say that now. I was wary about reading this at first. It has been sat on my lengthy TBR list for a long while. I just kept finding reasons to put off reading it because I was so unsure if I would ever like it. TO be honest, I was only motivated to read it after reading a review over on Paper Riot which really reminded me of why I wanted to read it in the first place. After all it is a fantasy novel, which immediately drew me to it, and it has an interesting premise: what if people were born with a unique skill? All I can say since I've read it is that I'm ashamed it took me so long to get around to it.
This book was filled with some truly wonderful characters, they were well developed, and you truly felt that there was a story to be told about any one of them (which, to be fair, there is a story to be told later about one of them, so it goes to show that it's true). That is definitely something I like to see in a book, there is nothing worse then having the supporting cast being there simply as 2d characters to help move the protagonists story along. That was not the case in Gracling. Each character ad their own independent motivations and were not used simply as plot points, if anything I almost wished we got to learn more about them, such as Raffin and Bann, who you wanted to know everything about. You wanted to know the pat of others, such as Helda, what happened with her? I wanted more.
Katsa was such a wonderful character, though. I was genuinely sad to reach the end of her story. She was so strong and independent and inspiring in some ways. You could see how driven she was to be independent of everyone and to not be tied down to one single person or one single place. She was determined to be a person in her own right, without being defined by those she associated with. It's not something that always appears in books, so often a female protagonist is a 'strong, independent woman' yet as soon as a romantic interest comes along you can see her slowly being defined by her relationship with them. In this book that was not the case, it went the complete opposite way, frustratingly so at times.
I don't want to spoil anything for anyone so I'm very conscious of not revealing plotlines or revealing too much. I do need to speak a little bit about the ending though. I felt the ending to this book was a bit rushed at times. This may partially be because I was rushing through to reach the end, as I simply couldn't stop reading. I do feel it was rushed and wrapped up a little too conveniently. Not that I'm complaining. I don't know if that viewpoint is influenced by the fact I am so used to reading series where there is a major plot twist which stops everything being wrapped up nicely to allow the series to continue. The beginning was stronger than the ending, but regardless I adored this book and even that ending does not affect my opinion.
So have any of you read Graceling or any in the series? What were your thoughts? I'll follow up with reviews for the rest in the series soon.