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I’m having a hard time summarizing this without either giving away the story or making it sound like something it’s not. Katsa is a fighter with almost supernatural abilities. This is the story of how she grows into her power and herself.
Not the greatest summary, but at least it doesn’t sound like a book about a woman who does nothing but fight. That’s what I got from the “official” summary, and that does this wonderful book no justice. I’m so glad I listened to Allison and gave this a shot!
I loved Katsa. What a great name for this character! She seems to be so strong and self-reliant, but really she’s kind of clueless, insecure in some things, and afraid of herself. I loved watching her grow past all that and realize that she’s more than just a fighter. I loved seeing her realize that she was living her own legend. Whether it was a good story or a bad story was entirely up to her.
And then there’s Prince Po. Wise, funny, mostly humble, lovable, sometimes cocky, Prince Po. I adored him. My one problem? His name. I could not get past Po in Kung Fu Panda. I did finally stop seeing a fat panda in my head whenever I read his name, but that was replaced with Chow Yun-Fat. Not too bad, but I got the feeling that Po was supposed to look more Spanish, or maybe even like a gypsy. Not so much Asian. But I could not get past that name.
I did have a few minor problems. Katsa’s amazing fighting abilities come from her Grace. Not everyone in this world is Graced. I would have liked something, even if it was some sort of mythology, explaining why some people have an ability that makes them almost superhuman in at least one respect.
There’s a brief history of the Seven Kingdoms at the very beginning. There were too many names in too short a time and I got confused. I kept about three of them straight, and luckily those were the only three that really mattered.
And this is an issue that I have with a lot of books–why do these “wild” women always have curly hair that is easily tamed by a good brushing? Curly hair is not tamed with a brush. Curly hair is inflamed by brushes, assuming you can get one through it in the first place. If you don’t have curly hair, don’t write a character who does. Sorry. A bit of a rant there.
But really, I loved the characters in this book, I loved the action, I loved the story, and my complaints are really just tiny ones that I only noticed because I loved everything else so much. I’ll definitely be picking up this author’s work as fast as she can write it.
Reviewed May 31, 2009
Read an excerpt.
Find author Kristin Cashore on her blog.
Buy Graceling at
Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.