I've been wanting to review this book for a while. Now I don't have any homework (what a miracle!), so I'll take advantage of this time. The book is Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I heart the cover really!
Of course first of all, here is the synopsis
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.
She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.
She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
When I read the review I immediately wanted to read it. I read the first few pages, and I was feeling rather confused. I guess it's because of the whole medieval setting of the story and the early action, which is great, don't get me wrong, but it took a while for me to really get in the book. I got through the confusing part and I became even more and more immersed in the book.
So Katsa (I love her name, it's so unique) is a Graceling. One of those people in the kingdoms which possesses a special and sometimes extreme skill of their own, they have a special characteristic to define them. That characteristic is the different colors of their eyes. Some of these talents vary, like physical skills, hunting, fighting or emotional skills such as influencing people and reading their minds. Katsa's skill is a very extreme one, which is the ability to kill someone very easily. This talent of hers was put of use by her uncle who is the King to carry out her killing skills to various activities among the seven kingdoms. To put it in a simple way, if anyone crosses the King, or meddles with his political status, he'll order her to wound that person to very extreme extents. So other people respect her, they fear her too. Katsa doesn't always like this, and as the book progresses, her dilemmas about her uncle's use of her power will continue to surface. Alliances will form, and other good stuff which I enjoyed tremendously. I really liked Katsa's character, she is very determined, sheltered. Although she is a bit insecure about her powers, she's not used to people looking into her eyes.
It was definitely a page turner, and the plot was played out really well. The setting of the story was very enjoyable, which is in this not so distant medieval time, with the fantasy twist delightfully thrown in there, it was also detailed but it didn't trail on with a bore. I was able to imagine the setting very nicely in my head. I love the never-ending adventure of the story.
Then she meets the Leinid prince, Prince Po, a Graceling himself equipped with excellent combat skills. He's very charming, open and likeable, then they both get closer, and their skills seem to match each other, so perfectly. Katsa was really thrilled that she has found someone that will give her a good challenge. He isn't afraid of her, and they began to practice fighting almost every day. Together, Katsa and Po teams up to solve a mystery that threatens the seven kingdoms. I love how their friendship gradually blooms into something more, and turns into this heart-throbbing romance that I couldn't get enough of in the story.
Katsa and Po's journey really involves a lot of action, suspense, mystery and adventure. I was biting my nails because of some of the action-packed aspects of the book, and it really deepened especially as it grows to the end. The romance was very enjoyable, vibrant and refreshing. i liked how Katsa and Po are so comfortable around each other, and they don't have to pretend. Other supporting characters in the book was superbly well-drawn and described and that is a big, big plus for me. I love how the characters grow within the story. I also liked how Katsa, in this book, is basically on the journey of becoming a young woman, dealing with her powers and emotions, and all that melted along with her relationship with Prince Po.
I extremely enjoyed the radiance of this book, definitely one I will treasure.