Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Harcourt Inc, New York, 2008
Wow, I haven’t been taken in by a fantasy like this in a while. Cashore’s writing is tight and finely tuned and I loved the way she gets into her heroine’s head. The idea of “Graces” reminded me a bit of Ursula Le Guin’s “Annals of the Western Shore” but the story lines are very different and there is plenty of room for both on Young Adult book shelves.
I have to admit I have not read Tamara Pierce and there are those readers who swear by her. Hopefully I can read a couple of her books sometime soon so I can compare her with Kristin Cashore.
Katsa is a young woman “graced” with the ability to kill and is used by her uncle to extend and preserve his power. Cashore uses inner dialogue to help us understand Katsa’s feelings and I found the portrayal of her emotions to be finely drawn and very real. There are many things going on here. Katsa’s enjoyment of her own strength, her distancing from those around her by their fear and prejudice and her profound anger and disgust at being used as a weapon. She develops an underground organization, The Council, recruits people from all walks of life and takes a stand against the abuse of power. She meets another “Graceling”, makes a friend and leaves her Uncle’s city on a quest.
I guess I was just ready for this tale, Cashore creates a world of seven kingdoms, fills it with intriguing characters and tells a wonderful story of self-discovery. I am curious about a sequel.