Next up: “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore
Cashore has three books in the Graceling universe; this is the first. They aren’t exactly sequels of each other; they’re connected, but can each stand alone. Because of this, I’m reviewing them separately.
This is the story of Katsa, a young woman who happens to be Graced– possessed of a special talent and eyes of two different colors. Unfortunately, her Grace is a terrible one: She is an exemplary soldier and assassin. If it has to do with killing, she is wildly skilled at it. This has lead her to be used by her uncle, King Randa as, essentially, a thug. To help assuage her guilt for what he makes her do, she helps with a covert organization called the Council, which works to right the injustices Randa perpetrates.
Through some actions of Council, she meets a man named Po, a Prince apparently Graced with combat skills that might rival her own, and together they must solve the mystery of Po’s grandfather’s abduction. This mystery carries them across kingdoms and unveils an enemy with a terrible Grace and ambitions of power.
The plot is actually more involved that the summary above, but it’s really hard to describe without spoiling things. But that’s the bare-bones of it.
I didn’t really like Katsa. She’s a little bit of a cliche; nothing about her really sets her apart from other similar characters. There’s not really a subversion of the ‘girl assassin’ trope here. I wanted Cashore to do something more with her character, but it just never happened. I actually didn’t get invested in any of the characters, really, I always felt really divorced from their emotions. I just wasn’t feeling it.
I did like the idea of Graces, and that they are marked by heterochromia iridum is aesthetically nice. I’ve personally been really intrigued by heterochromia since pretty much forever (it’s kind of really cool to think about, genetically), so I was digging that from the get-go. The wide-range of Graces is also something that tickles my interest, and I spent a good amount of time while I was reading wondering ‘what if someone had a Grace that…?’ or ‘what sort of limits would this-or-that Grace have?’
I like the other books in Cashore’s Graceling world better than this one, because of my ambivalence toward the characters in this one and its slightly less interesting plot.
Child abuse. Implied rape.