I forgot how much I love this book! I first picked up Graceling by Kristin Cashore when it came out back in 2008 (a month after The Hunger Games was published, to put it in perspective for you!), and I have read it numerous times since then. It’s been several years since the last time I read it, though, and with the buzz around Kristin Cashore’s new book, Jane, Unlimited, I decided I was overdue for a reread. It was so much fun to have it all come back to me as I started reading!
Gracelings are blessed with the ability of an extreme skill and are identifiable by their mismatched eyes, but Katsa’s Grace is more dangerous than most: she is Graced to kill. The niece of a king, she is frequently used to mete out the king’s punishment. But then Katsa meets Po, a prince and Graced fighter from another country who is searching for his missing grandfather. He challenges Katsa in ways that no one else has before and gets her to think more about her role in the king’s court and the powers of her Grace, setting off a chain of events that change Katsa’s life forever.
I think a large part of the reason I love this book so much is Po. I remember at the time I first read Graceling how unusual it was to have a male character who was not only at ease with the female protagonist’s considerable strength, but reveled in it and encouraged her to be the best she could be without worrying about hurting his feelings. He’s just such a dynamic and engaging character who really jumps off the page at me and has a lot of personality, and I really enjoyed him. I would definitely say he’s my favorite part of the book!
The premise of Graces is really interesting too, and they’re a large part of what attracted me to this book in the first place. It’s a really unique form of magic, and I find it fascinating that it’s indicated with two different eye colors. I do wish, though, that the book went more in-depth with the history of Gracelings and maybe why they exist, or even what lore the Graceling Realm has explaining their existence. It’s just such a fascinating part of the book for me that I want to know everything.
Katsa is a great character, too. I loved how strong she is (both physically and mentally) and watching her grow into her Grace and realizing it’s more than she knew. And of course, the tension between her and Po was such a page-turner.
I will say, though, that I wanted to better understand why Katsa listened to Randa and didn’t stand up to him sooner when she didn’t want to be his thug. She’s clearly powerful enough that she doesn’t have to listen to him. I think a lot of it had to do with her age and repeatedly being told that she isn’t capable of anything other than physical violence, but I didn’t think that was spelled out enough.
I also thought the end of the book dragged a little bit. I’m not sure how it could have been done better, since the part I didn’t like was necessary to the plot (and I suppose to Katsa’s character development), but it was still slow. I think maybe it was because Po wasn’t there? His relationship with Katsa definitely sustained a lot of the book for me.
So overall, even though I was a bit more critical of the book this time around, I still thoroughly enjoyed rereading Graceling. It’s such a great story and world, and I definitely still consider it to be one of my favorite books.
Have you read Graceling? Let me know in the comments what you thought of it and what books you’ve been meaning to reread!