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#52 Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In Kasta’s worlds, Graces are people blessed with incredible skills. Someone blessed with a cooking Grace may be born with the abilities of a master chef, or someone with a swimming Grace will swim as quickly as a fish. Kasta’s Grace is something more dangerous. She is an incredibly efficient killer. As a result, her uncle the King sends her all over his country to do his dirty work. Kasta feels that she is nothing more than a brute, and feels trapped her in current lifestyle. That is, until she meets Po, a young man Graced with fighting skills who makes her realize that she has more control over her life than she believes. Will Kasta be able to break free of her Uncle’s control?

Graceling is the type of book that reminds me why I love fantasy so much. Tough Kasta is an incredibly sympathetic protagonist. I enjoyed the fact that she was so self sufficient, and didn’t have to constantly depend on others to get her out of trouble. I liked how we got to see her grow from a gruff killer to a more complex character. The secondary characters, such as Po, are equally interesting and complex. The storyline is very action packed, filled with plenty of fight scenes, but also possesses surprising depth and feminist themes. The issue of free will is very important here, as Kasta struggles to gain her own freedom from under her uncle, and from a second king with disturbing gifts. Kasta’s rejection of traditional woman’s roles (she does not wish to get married and have children- although she doesn’t reject the idea of romance), reminds me a bit of how Alanna started out in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet, which is one of my favorite series.

I would recommend Graceling for people looking for well paced YA fantasy read with interesting characters, a strong story, and a little romance. A companion book, called Fire, will be coming out in October. Fire is not a direct sequel to Graceling. Apparently it’s more of a prequel with a completely new cast of characters, except for one. In a way, this makes Graceling something quite rare, a stand alone fantasy novel.

Rating: five stars
Length: 471 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
TBR Pile: 144 books
Similar Books: The Song of the Lioness Quarter and the Beka Cooper Series, both by Tamora Pierce. Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel
Other books I've read by this author: None. This is currently Kristin Cashore’s only published novel

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