This is a Young Adult novel, the first in a series, which was recommended by one of the bloggers I follow, Jesi Lea Ryan, Diary of a Bibliophile. Graceling is a very good book, and may be the beginning of a very good series. I am not going to be the one to tell you, though. While there are certainly Young Adult novels that I really enjoy, I encountered most of them while I was a young adult myself. I also enjoy fantasy novels, which this is, and it’s a pretty good fantasy also. It’s just a little too young and the fantasy world is a little too formulaic for my tastes.
Katsa is a young woman in a world where some people are “graced”. Being graced is rather like having a talent on overdrive. At the tender age of eight, Katsa defends herself instinctually and kills the predator stalking her. From that point forward, it is assumed that Katsa’s grace is killing. As the niece of the king, she quickly becomes his executioner. But she is smart and motivated to help others and really, really dislikes being used to intimidate, hurt and kill the king’s enemies. She finally develops the maturity and insight to realize that she holds the real power here, not the king. She refuses to do his bidding and leaves the kingdom.
But she does not leave alone. A young man, Po, has come to her uncle’s kingdom searching for his kidnapped grandfather. When Po leaves to continue his search, Katsa accompanies him. They come to know and trust each other as they face the perils of their journey. They both possess graces that everyone around them interprets incorrectly. Together they discover the true depths of their graces. They eventually fall in love.
They determine who is behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather, and in their quest to discover and understand the motives for it; they encounter Bitterblue, a princess of a neighboring kingdom and Po’s cousin. She is grave peril, and Katsa and Po must risk everything to save her and expose the evil that is spreading outward from her kingdom. Grandfather is rescued. Bitterblue is crowned queen, and the young lovers return to their cabin in the mountains to await the next installment in their story.
This really is a good story. It is just directed at too young an audience to keep my interest. By all means give it a try, and encourage your kids to try it as well.