Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I just finished and am overwhelmed with how wonderful this book was to read. Cashore created a world of kingdoms ruled by kings where two people, Katsa and Po, meet and become friends in the truest sense. Both Katsa and Po are graced with a special talent far beyond what others can imagine. Katsa, orphaned at a young age lives with her uncle, King Randa, who has control over her and uses her killing grace to his advantage but through her own rebellious feelings she forms a council to right some obvious wrongs. On one of the council's missions she meets Po, a prince from one of the seven kingdoms, and things begin to change in her world as Po teaches her that no man, especially Randa, can control her; that her control always lies within her.
I don't want to go into detail as much of what was great about this book took me by surprise; points I don't want to now hand to you, if you haven't read it. I like fantasy and I thought Cashore built a believable world with very likeable characters. I liked how the characters from part one were not forgotten as I liked Raffin and Helda. I want to know more about Po's family, Katsa's decisions and Bitterblue's struggles.
Last night we drove for two hours home from a music fest and I couldn't put the book down, even though my head was nodding, begging for sleep and I was reading with a tiny book light. I woke up this morning, picked the book up again, read, made breakfast, read until I turned the last delicious page. I think I will probably be at the library when the doors open tomorrow morning to get Fire.
After Thoughts: I'm a little perturbed because I did some research about Fire, the "sequel" to Graceling and it's about a different character and as much as I can gather does not further Katsa and Po's story. (How many of you already knew this...?) I will still read it but am not racing to the library to get it.
I also read a few other reviews and want to comment. The whole relationship issue was believable to me...this is something many people grapple with today and marriage is complex. Can you marry someone and not feel a little "owned" even when you love that person? Yes, but it's not always easy and the book makes that argument. Katsa and Po are not high school teenagers either and Katsa hasn't had any positive guidance in this area either. She knows she doesn't want someone to be in charge of her life. I think it is a worthy debate and thought the example of love was done well; showing depth from both characters.
I did think the book ended quickly but I didn't think it let the story just drop off. I was ready to read about Katsa's lessons with Bitterblue and Po's journey home. I think Katsa and later Bitterblue offer strong female characters for readers and great examples of friendship and self-esteem exist in the book.
Find Kristin Cashore at her blog, This Is My Secret.
Find Graceling at an Indie Bookstore near you.