Author: Kristen Cashore
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Series: The Seven Kingdoms, book one
Source: Purchased book, audio from library
About the Book: 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.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
My Thoughts: I read this book when it came out and was blown away. I hadn’t read anything that impressed me so much in a really long time. (Sidenote: A couple weeks later I read The Hunger Games when it was released and could not believe I had found two amazingly awesome books so close together! It was a good month!) I told everyone I knew all about it and how awesome it was. You should have seen me trying to explain gracelings and acting scenes out. It was pretty ridiculous but I just couldn’t help myself!
Fast forward to the end of 2011 and I am dying to read Bitterblue, the third and final Seven Kingdoms book (note: I have now read it and it is so worth the wait!) In anticipation of Bitterblue I decided to listen to the audiobook of Graceling. Everyone kept telling my how amazing it was and I am always up for a good audiobook! It’s a full cast audio which was pretty amazing to listen to. Still, it was hard for me because I had read the book so many times I had very specific ideas of how each character sounded. It’s not that the narrators were bad. They just weren’t my voices for the characters. If you’ve never read the book (or just don’t have the very strong attachment I have to it) the audio is a great way to experience it.
Graceling remains one of my all time favorite reads. It’s such a wonderful fantasy. I love the world that Cashore created. The descriptions of the Seven Kingdoms and their rulers, the landscapes, the political tension, and the characters. Ohmygoodness the characters. Katsa is so physically strong but really just finding out who she is beyond her grace and the king’s use for her. I was so interested in seeing her grow and change. Po, dear Po. Katsa can beat him at any physical test but his inner strength is so much greater. I don’t want to say too much about him for fear of spoiling the story. I could go on and on about all the characters… even the secondary and tertiary ones! I still remember them all vividly. They are that memorable.
If you’ve never read this book I highly suggest you fix that. You then need to read Fire. It’s a prequel and I usually don’t like prequels. In this case however I may have loved it even more than Graceling. These books are the rare kind that I could read every couple of months and not grow tired of them.
Note: If you plan on reading Bitterblue I can’t stress how much more you’ll get out of it if you’ve read both Graceling and Fire beforehand.