" In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age the darkness of her Grave casts a heavy shadow over Katsa's life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid's father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivaled her own?The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out - but little does she realize, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyes king..." - Book Cover
Graceling takes place in a medieval era where Kings are gods and dictators. In this strange world some kids wakes up one day with eyes of two different colors, they are Gracelings and they are feared by their pairs. A Grace can be as insignificant as swimming or cooking abilities, but some like combat skill and mind-reading are seeked by Kings to exploit.
Katsa's life changed the day her Grace manifested itself: she killed her cousin with bare hands. And from that day, nothing has been the same. She trained hard with the King's Spymaster and by age 10 she was a dangerous weapon sent by the King to punish his people.
As Katsa grow up, she questions her uncle's decision (the King) and create a secret movement. The Council's mission is to secretly fight for the greater good and that's how Katsa ended up saving an old Lienid and met Po, a Prince Graced with fighting.
Katsa will have to make some life changing decisions in order to fight for her beliefs, and it won't be without consequences.
I loved, Loved, LOVED this book! This kind of fantasy isn't my usual kind of read but I love Kristin’s writing. She has an incredible world building ability and you get sucked into the story from the very first page. The whole Grace idea is fantastic, totally original and it leads to a lot of depth from Graced characters.
A Grace isn't clear as black and white, and it's not always what it seems. A Grace can have an impact on many abilities the characters possesses which provides a whole new element for character's growth.
Being seeked and used, being feared by your family and neighbors is something that builds character and can strengthen or weaken you depending on your personality.
I really loved the characters Kristin created, they are all unique and I found myself fond of almost every one of them, I mean I'm not gonna fall for the villains will I?
Katsa is extraordinary by her internal debates, her self perception and her fight to become a better person, she takes some really heart-breaking decisions along her journey, but her strength and determination will help her make it through while trying to protect the ones she loves.
I have a very soft spot for Po, he is so special, a great person and such a great complement for Katsa. He is hiding a big secret that threatens to destroy life as he knows it at any moment and you find yourself praying everything goes well.
I liked the end, at about 80 pages before the end I was scared it might not wrap-up like I wanted cause it seemed there so few pages left and so many things to do but Kristin managed to cook us a very nice end. It's not your typical happily ever after but it was very credible.
This novel is definitely a must read, I read Fire (the second book published in this series) before this one, and I am amazed once again by Kristin's ability to tell a marvelous story. I have high hopes for Bitteblue, but I'm really sad I'm gonna have to wait until April 2011 to have more of Kristin Cashore's fine writing.
The Seven Kingdoms series:
Bitterblue (April 2011)
Paperback, 352 pages
first published October 1st 2008
Book Source: Personal Shelf