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.
Katsa lives in a world where some people are gifted, Graced with a special ability. The Gracelings, as they are known, can do amazing and the most different things—like cooking extremely well or breathing under the water—and they can be recognized by their eyes: each one has a different color. Katsa is Graced with killing skills, so don’t expect her to be any ordinary girl. She works for her uncle, the King Randa, even though she doesn’t agree with his orders.
Katsa believes she can do some good with her killing skills, as part of a secret Council, something her uncle can never dream of. She takes off in secret missions trying to help people, and that’s how she runs into a Graceling gifted with Fighting Grace. This encounter, as you can imagine, will change her mind and life.
Graceling is a book about feelings. Cashore took time and effort on describing them in her narrative. The story’s pace is slower than we’re used to, which can make you feel a little bored. While the book caught our attention, it didn’t fully develop a love for the characters and the narrative. The book is about feelings, but it’s difficult to feel something about it. Even the villain doesn’t appear much, and you can’t truly hate him in two brief glances.
Graceling suffers of the same disease of other first books in series: it’s an introduction, not a full developed story. Althought it makes us want the next book, Fire, the story leave us wishing it could be more. Let’s hope Cashore found a perfect set for the follow-up.
Our favorite quotes on this book are bellow.
“What can be so funny,” Katsa said, “to a prince who’s turned his hair blue?”
“You look like you’ve been in a fight,” he said, “for the first time in your life.”
“You’re in fine temper,” Raffin said.
“Your hair is blue,” Katsa snapped back.
A monster that refused, sometimes, to behave like a monster. When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?
She had truted him. She had trusted him, and she should not have. He had misrepresented himself, misrepresented his Grace. And that was the same as if he’d lied.
She wanted to cause him pain for taking a place in her heart that she wouldn’t have given him if she’d known the truth.
“I love you,” he said. “You’re more dear to my heart than I ever knew anyone could be. And I’ve made you cry; and there I’ll stop.”
She cried like a person whose heart is broken and wondered how, when two people loved each other, there could be such a broken heart.
She couldn’t have him, and there was no mistaking it. She could never be his wife. She could not steal herself back from Randa only to give herself away again—belong to another person, be answerable to another person, build her very being around another person, build her very being around another person. No matter how she loved him.
“I never should have brought you here.”
“You didn’t bring me here. We came together.”
“She has a knife, and she’s willing to use it.”
“Good for her.”
“Wonderful,” Po said. “It’s quite boring really, the way you beat me to death with your hands and feet, Katsa. It’ll be refreshing to have you coming at me with a knife.”
“Was he Graced?”
“No. He wasn’t Graced like you. But he was mad like you.”
In the end, (…) should have stuck to his lies. For it was the truth he almost told that killed him.