Sunday, August 13, 2017

Graceling by Kristin Cashore: Book Review

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Publication Details: September 7th 2009 by Graphia (first published October 1st 2008)
Genre: Fantasy, young adult


A deadly grace. 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 Graces 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...

(from Goodreads)

A gripping, adventurous story about identity and embracing one's strengths and weaknesses.
Plot
The story started with the introduction of the fantasy heroine, Katsa, displaying her bravery and prowess in fighting. Though typical, it was still gripping, and it set the mood for the whole book. I liked how it started with an action-packed scene making me want to know what happened next, then easing the focus to the introduction of the world the story is set in.

Graceling has the usual fantasy elements (and I inevitably compared it with Throne of Glass and Red Queen), but it was still an enjoyable read. There's a balanced play of action, adventure and narrative at the beginning toward the middle. Though there were predictable bits, it did not make my reading dragging.

One thing I cannot wrap my mind around in is how the people look down on the 'Graced' ones. I think in reality people would have praised them instead. Lol I don't know. 😁

There's also a political element in it which makes the book more intriguing. The friction between the kingdoms was not explored well so I'm looking forward to more enlightenment in the next books.

The ending part especially Katsa's final encounter with King Leck was quite anticlimactic. I was expecting it to be more action-packed, but I guess the focus of that scene was in the character development.

One of the things I also liked about this book is the happy ending. Though there's a resolution for Katsa's and Po's life, the ending is open enough for many other possible adventures. And there's a lot more to explore! 😁

Overall, I think Graceling set an interesting introduction to the succeeding novels.

World-building
The Graceling world is the usual medieval fantasy setting. It has 7 kingdoms, each one with different culture, tradition, motives and secrets. Though again it's not a unique element, it still gave additional intriguing factor to the book, especially how each kingdom will contribute to the conflict of the story.

They weren't explored well in this first book, but I am looking forward to how each will affect the other kingdoms and the main plot and characters.


Characters
Katsa: Katsa, the main character, is your typical fantasy heroine actually. I liked that she's strong, has great fighting skills, and is sure of herself, but she also knows her limits and weaknesses.

I liked how despite her Grace and the perception of her, she still has a heart to do what is good and stand up for what is right.

I don't think I will be reading more of her. Hopefully, I will.

Po: Despite of his Grace, skills and being a prince, Po is humble and very supportive of the heroine. He is determined and brave but towards the end I saw a vulnerable side which makes him more realistic and relatable.

Bitterblue: Bitterblue is one of the secondary characters I am very much looking forward to read more of. She's a very brave 10-year old girl. She is not Graced but her character is interesting and intriguing. I hope I'll read more of her! 😊

In general, the characters are okay. Though most weren't explored well, I still enjoyed reading their interactions with one another. Even the villains were intriguing enough for me to look forward to their appearances in the next books.

Writing
As I've mentioned a few times, the plot elements in Graceling are not really unique. However, the author was able to deliver an interesting story. And I had an enjoyable reading experience despite the predictable bits.

I liked that there's a balanced play of action and narrative, and how there's no dragging part. The flow of the story is also okay. And the plot can be easily understood.

-o-

To summarize, I think Graceling is a good, enjoyable read. If you're up for a fantasy read with three-dimensional characters and well-placed action, you might want to consider Graceling.


from Goodreads
Kristin Cashore grew up in the northeast Pennsylvania countryside as the second of four sisters. She received a bachelor's degree from Williams College and a master's from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College. She has worked as a dog runner, a packer in a candy factor, an editorial assistant, a legal assistant, and a freelance writer. She has lived in many places, and she currently resides in Massachusetts.

Kristin Cashore's debut novel, Graceling, grew from her daydreams about a girl who possesses extraordinary powers- and forms a friendship with a boy with whom she is insurmountably incompatible (from Graceling inside back cover).

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