February 01, 2009

Katsa, Full of Grace -- and Choices

This book is a 2008 Cybils Finalist for Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Katsa is used to being alone. Her mismatched eyes announce that she is a Graceling, singularly Graced like many in seven kingdoms, but particularly Graced because Katsa can kill anyone, and anything. She is a killer, and killed her first man when she was eight. She is her uncle, Lord King Randa's, enforcer, his royal thug.

And she hates it.

But Katsa knows how to be no one else. She has a useless Grace, a power she never asked for, and which can only be used by the word of her King, and by the wildness of her own temper.

Other people are intelligent and can get along in the world. But Katsa is a animal-girl, wild and raging, full of unintelligible emotions and not good enough to be with others. Randa reminds her of this often. She has no knowledge, and should thus have no opinions, and do nothing but what she's told. Katsa follows these rules successfully -- but Randa is a bully, and using his enforcer as an instrument of torture is his favorite way of keeping his kingdom in line. Until the horror begins to seep in too deep, and what Randa asks is too much. Then Katsa casts about to find another way to live, a way that enables her to do her job, but to undo some of the harm in the kingdoms. A way for her to be a person, and to live among people.

Katsa begins to make a sort of peace with herself and with the world, until she meets another Graceling, a Liend prince. And then, everything begins to slide out of balance.

Everything.

But Katsa is a fighter. If she cannot kill this prince, she can at least figure out a way to keep her life the way she needs it to be.

One way or another.


Kristin Cashore has written the perfect kind of book that will make a reader refuse meals and bed in order to just keep reading. I appreciate the way Cashore is true to the character to the very last, and when readers turn the final page of this book, they, like me, will heave a huge sigh, and hope plaintively for more. It's truly a thing of beauty, and I don't say that often or lightly.

Buy Graceling, and pretty much anything else this woman writes, from an independent bookstore near you!

9 comments:

biblauragraphy said...

Oh, this was so flipping good. Where is that cover from? It's pretty kickin'.

tanita s. davis said...

It's the UK cover -- isn't it awesome!?

Em said...

I've been enjoying all of your cybils reviews. It's driving me crazy waiting to see what y'all pick! :)

Charlotte said...

I guess you liked it!

Jen Robinson said...

This was one of my very favorites from last year. I'm so glad that you liked it, too.

Alexa said...

I absolutely loved this book, especially the end. I'm so glad she stayed true to who Katsa was.

Although I much prefer the USA cover.

tanita s. davis said...

...have to admit that after it was pointed out to me that the laws of physics would have to be suspended in order for her to heft that there sword with her teensy waist -- I have decided that maybe just the sword cover would have been better!

Charlotte said...

well, but she's Graced. So that means the laws of physics don't apply...

Em said...

This is such a great book. It was one of my favorite Cybils reads. :)