My Rating: * * * (3 stars/5)
So I will start with a short summary, and then get to the point of my review. If you are interested in having your novel reviewed by me, feel free to drop me a comment. Anyways, the summary...Basically Katsa is a girl who can kill people with the nail of her small finger. She has a grace of killing. Graces in the novel are more like specialty talents that are portrayed when somebody's eyes change color at a young age. 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.
Love the idea. That's why I bought the book, but to me the execution and plot was dull. Katsa is somewhat an annoying character. I know Kristen Cashore tried to make her a very strong female lead, but I found her to be very Mary Sueish at times and angry for no reason. Anger management, dude. Seriously. Her grace is a bit confusing to me and I find that if I wrote this I wouldn't call it the grace of killing but maybe of like fighting or something along those lines? Maybe strength? Because everyone has the ability to kill, its just the way she does it...She does though find out later that her grace is not killing, but survival. The fights were very swift and to me I found they were described too shortly. Like she just hit men with her boot and bam! Ten men down. What confused me was that how in the world she overcame graced fighters so easily.
Now, there were great things in the novel but let me continue my ramble...She is king Randa’s slave and when she meets Po, he tells her that she shouldn't be his slave. Ok, thinks Katsa, I’m going to go kill him if he doesn't let me leave. Randa fears her, for she can dodge arrows, but I am sure if he wanted her dead than he could arrow her down with a thousand or so men. I am sure it’s impossible to dodge that many arrows. So with Po who is the grandson of the stolen Lienid grandfather, she leaves to search why in the world the grandfather was stolen in the first place. Po lets her beat him up every day and I am surprised he hadn't gotten a hematoma from her punches to the head. I mean I was in a car accident and I hit my head....2 months off, brain bleed. Eeek! I think Po is a well described character, I liked him, but he takes allot of things that I really don't know if a real guy would take from Katsa. Actually he is probably the only one she is really nice to and I liked how she slowly evolved into a more humane girl throughout the novel.
Another thing, the whole giant back-story description of the kingdoms was confusing. I skimmed. It was like Wester, Nender, Ender, Blender and I was like what??? And all of those kings and queens and yikes! I think it would have worked better if it was weaved into the narrative. So anyways, she and Po leave to find why the grandfather was stolen. Their travel lasts forever and through that travel they get to know each other until, more than halfway through the novel, they find that king Leck stole the king and he is playing with minds. Did I mention Po (whose real name is Greening) is a mind reader? Oh, and I felt their romance was somewhat off and undeveloped...So they find Bitterblue who is running away and is the daughter of Leck. I think this could have been done better because a scene or two later, when Po sacrifices himself, Katsa kills Leck with a dagger. Easily. and I don't feel the defeat and victory that I should feel when an antagonist is killed. Of course they travel with Bitterblue to get to Leck (there is allot of travel) and when they get to Po's castle, guess who's there...Just guess...Leck! She kills him and they find Po who went blind and live happily ever after with Bitterblue as the queen.
Overall thoughts...I loved the idea. I enjoyed the read, but I thought there was allot of back-story, telling and not enough action to amaze me and engage me. Graceling didn't exceed my expectations but it served as entertainment and I think that it was a fun read overall. Katsa was interesting...Po was a very beta male I will do anything kind of person. So overall you should read it if you haven't! Cheers!