Book Review – Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

The blurb expounds:

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.

I like the fact that the book has a strong female main character.  It worried me a bit that her special abilities made her so strong that she ended up having a more masculine attitude, but the author handled it well.  By the end of the book we know the character well enough that she just is who she is, without needing to be labelled in a particular way.

The fictional names in the book weren’t perfect – they don’t roll off the tongue, they’re not very easy to remember and they don’t feel like they have internal consistency.  They weren’t terrible, just not great.

The book is paced a bit oddly – the start was exciting, but then it slowed down a lot and never really picked up again, and the end was a bit anticlimactic.

Another problem I had was that there’s only really one major twist in the book and it was unfortunately pretty predictable.  There’s also an impossible coincidence in the book that’s just glossed over which added to the amateurish feel.

I was made a bit uncomfortable by the fact that two of the characters fight a lot and then sleep with each other – sex and violence gets conflated in a way I didn’t like.