Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Fantasy books are incredibly difficult to review. Either you love them or you hate them. There seems to be no middle ground. And somehow every plot sounds the same. So how am I going to tell you effectively about good this little book really is. Little by fantasy standards, only just over 300 pages.
Katsa was born ‘talented’ on a world where ‘talented’ people are viewed with great suspicion and forced to live at court and serve the king. In that way they can be closely supervised and supposedly the king is wise enough to use their skills for the greater good. Katsa’s grace, or talent, is killing. When she inadvertently kills a baron during a court dinner, she immediately is cast in the role of the King’s personal assassin. She is forced to spend her life breaking bones and removing heads all at the whim of the king.
Katsa is very uncomfortable with this role. And in reaction she sets up a secret council who works to help the helpless not only in her own kingdom, but in each of the seven kingdoms in her world. This council hears of the kidnapping of King Liend and Katsa begins the search and rescue. Thus begins the adventure.
I loved Katsa as a character. She was strong and caught in a violent profession, but somehow she maintains her humanity. She cares for others, even to the extent of trying to avoid her King’s commands. The scene where she declares her independence is absolutely wonderful. I felt like cheering.
OK so the names are silly, and they get sillier. That is a common fault with debut fantasy authors. But otherwise there is very little to fault in this captivating adventure story. Certainly it was the cause of a very late night because there was no way I was going to sleep before I found out what happened.