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Graceling Paperback – 22 Jan 2009
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|Paperback, 22 Jan 2009||
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Cashore's prose is smooth and unobtrusive. But for all its lightness of tone, Graceling is not a simple novel. indeed it deals with some very difficult subject matter. Its inevitable love story is sweetly unconventional and unabashedly feminist. Katsa herself is a rich character. The growth of her trust and self-esteem is the understated heart of the novel. This is always Katsa's story and enjoyable fast paced it is too. An immensely fun, good-hearted read. (Nic Clarke SFX)
[Thi] exquisitely drawn romance . . . will slake the thirst of Twilight fans, but one measure of this novel¿s achievements lies in its broad appeal. Tamora Pierce fans will embrace the take-charge heroine . . . and while adult readers will enjoy the author¿s originality, the writing is perfectly pitched at teens struggling to put their own talents to good use. With this riveting debut, Cashore has set the bar exceedingly high. (Publisher's Weekly)
Cashore creates believable characters with enough depth, subtlety, and experience to satisfy older readers . . . An impressive first novel (Booklist)
An assured fantasy debut.... Katsa is an ideal adolescent heroine, simultaneously confident of her strengths yet unsure of her place in the world. Every character is crafted with the same meticulous devotion to human comprehensibility.... In a tale filled with graphic violence and subtle heartbreak, gentle passion and savage kindness, matter-of-fact heroics and bleak beauty, no defeat is ever total and no triumph comes without cost. Grace-full, in every sense (Kirkus)
The story flows at a decent pace with a story that gradually builds in intensity and a mystery that unravels at just the right speed to keep things interesting. Cashore knows what makes a good spectacle and, even though you know that Katsa absolutely has to win through, writes set piece scenes that buzz with excitement and action. (GRAEME'S FANTASY BOOK REVIEW)
For a debut novel, Graceling is well-written, nicely-structured and easy to read. The characters are well-drawn and the storyline intriguing enough to draw the reader along at a good speed. The notion of Graces, although not hugely original, is nonetheless explored in-depth throughout the book with some nice, logical extrapolations of the abilities on show. (THE WERTZONE)
A major strength of the writing is the imagery presented throughout the novel. The book is filled with very vivid descriptions of almost everything from castles, landscapes, courts, and the journeys that the characters go on. Kristin Cashore's ¿Graceling¿ is a great start by a developing writer and I definitely look forward to seeing this writer grow with future novels as she shows tremendous potential. (FANTASY BOOK CRITIC)
It¿s a great debut novel that will suit those who like their Fantasy unabashedly romantic. (SFF WORLD.COM)
Graceling really does have something to offer everyone. An adventurous and enjoyable read. (DEATHRAY)
Sometimes nothing but a Grace can save youSee all Product description
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On the whole, I liked the concept, of people being Graced with different abilities, ranging from impressive abilities such as mind reading to the small, being able to hold your breath for a long time. The story started off well and I was hooked, so I thought it held a lot of promise. However, about half way through I felt like there was no real plot and the characters were just coasting along. I didn't sympathise with them and to be honest I don't even see why the bad guy was so evil as it was never explained fully, we are told he hurts animals and can control people's minds but why does he do this what is his endgame? So I did get frustrated, as so many questions are left unanswered.
Also sorry to say, but Katsa was such a Mary Sue she can do anything and is the best at everything. She was also annoying as things had to be her way or the highway (bring on the hissy fits and temper tantrums)
I have to say, Po is the only reason that I could stay engaged with the story, I really liked him. What I liked most is that he grows as a character and changes throughout the book, which made it easier for me to root for him.
Overall, it was an ok read but I felt like it's potential fell through.
This review is also posted on my Goodreads profile but I am still the one who wrote it :)
This book is rife with awesome characters, a pretty well developed set of Kingdoms and a decent villain too. It's also pretty dominated by girl power. Which is cool. Sometimes it's a little too deliberate actually, but I like the idea so I'm rolling with it.
Katsa is Graced. This is evidenced by her distinctly different eyes, as it is with all Graced, but unique to her (her Grace if you like) is her ability to be a warrior. She is a gifted fighter, which also makes her the Kings, her Uncle, chosen assassin or punishment deployed. Katsa is made for more. So she rebels against the King and sets off on a mission of her own, with a more worthwhile cause and a handsome Graced accomplice, to stop a crafty King of another Kingdom.
I love the characters. Katsa is headstrong, intelligent and entirely her own person. She isn't easily swayed by a pretty face, and she doesn't do as she's told - how refreshing. Her accomplice Po adds weight to the book, providing that handsome (expected) love interest but with his own back story and intrigue to make him worth reading about. My favourite though is a young Princess Katsa meets along the way - she's perfect, you'll love her too.
Saying anymore will absolutely ruin the story. There are many plot twists which weren't actually the ones I expected - this book took a fairly typical route but then swiftly changed course and definitely for the better. I thought I knew this story, but I shouldn't have underestimated this author. Along the way further forks in the road made me stop and think as well; this book is anything but the norm.
The pace is fast and full of mysteries. I absolutely recommend it. My only slight complaint is perhaps the romance - I felt this story would have worked better if that had been developed in a later book, but it took an interesting turn which I think made up for it. There is also an abundance of silly names, so named as to sound fantastical I presume, but they really were silly. I'm excited to see what's in store for book two - Fire.
Do read if you like romance and empathy with your sword and sorcery. Don't read if you like macho action, horror or great originality.
It's pretty much a self contained story, but allows room for more tales in the world where it is set.
It runs for three hundred and seventy pages. It's divided into three parts. And further into thirty nine chapters plus an epilogue.
There's a map of the setting at the start.
It's pretty much suitable for readers of all ages. There's some mild violence but nothing more.
The land in which this takes place is called the Seven Kingdoms. Seven realms all with monarchs. And many people with graces. These are special abilities that they have. Just one for each person who is graced. You can tell they have a grace thanks to their unusual eyes. You could have one that makes you good at swimming, or cooking, or sewing, or many of the other little things of life.
Such as killing.
Which is what Katsa, our main character, is very skilled at.
Having discovered that skill from an early age has set her apart from most. She exists in service to her monarch and has to carry out his orders. Which put her skill to good use.
She has far more skills at killing than she does with socialising, thus she's not really good with people, and has no idea how to be like that.
All of which changes when, whilst hunting for a kidnapped royal, she meets a man who is just as good at fighting as she is. And she decides she's done with things.
But at the same time, a great evil is slowly taking hold.
Good fantasy really needs to be strongly character based first and foremost. You can create great settings, but if your reader doesn't care about the characters, then they won't be involved. This manages to do all that by focusing on Katsa from the off. Although it starts by throwing you into the middle of the action you're not confused, and short occasional flashbacks do quickly fill in the blanks.
Po, the hero of the piece, is someone we don't know too much about initially, and since we only ever see him through Katsa's eyes, you have to wait a while to learn more and get used to him. But you do.
Katsa is such a sympathetic character and it is involving to watch her slowly learn and manage to break out of her habits and conditioning and do and be something more.
Plotting wise this is also more skilled than you might expect, because it does feel at a point in the middle as if it isn't going to focus on the evil of the tale quite as much as it needs to, and you do wonder for a little bit where things are going. But long journey scenes work better than they do in some other books because they allow time for the characters to bond. And the final quarter of the book does have very good direction and knows exactly where it's going and what it's doing, throwing any preceding doubts away.
The ending does go on a bit, but it does manage to make it a bit more realistic than it might be otherwise.
A good bit of fantasy and character drama and an engaging romance. All in all a definite four out of five book. But a nice read and one that should make you want to look at more from the writer. Who has done other tales set in this world since.
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