Why Are There All These Blank Spaces?

You may notice that in some of my posts there are blank spaces in the reviews. These are spoilers that I've written so I can remember important details of the books when I want to read the sequel. I've made the text a beige color to blend in with the background so you won't accidentally see something you don't want to. If you want to read it, just highlight the section to make the text appear - although you should really just read the book yourself! :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


by Kristin Cashore

Yesterday I finished reading Graceling, Kristin Cashore's debut novel. I found this book while looking up a different book on Amazon. A reader mentioned Graceling in his or her review, so I looked it up and immediately put in on hold at my library.

The beginning of the book was a little confusing, and I found myself having to think carefully about who was who, where the different kingdoms were located, and who was doing what and why. However, after a short while enough background story was revealed to allow me to put the pieces together.

The story takes place in a land where some people are born with an special skill called a "grace". If a baby has a grace, shortly after its birth its eyes will "settle" in two different colors. Their grace however, may not obvious until years later. Katsa's eyes are blue and green, and at the age of 8, she discovered that her grace is killing. Ten years later we find her serving as a "hit man" for her king. However, she also participates in a group she created, known simply as "the Council" which travels throughout the seven kingdoms to right the wrongs of the various kings.

Later we meet another graceling, Prince Po, whose eyes are silver and gold, and who possesses the grace of combat skills.

I find it interesting that the back flap of the dust jacket on this book mentions that the author first imagined this story as one where a girl with extraordinary powers "forms a friendship with a boy with whom she is insurmountably incompatible". Funny, because it seemed to me that these two were actually distinctly compatible. They share common views, both are gifted fighters, and through the entire book we learn more and more about the two that makes them seem even more like they were made for each other. So what makes them "insurmountably incompatible"?

I really enjoyed this book and found myself talking about it to anyone who'd listen. It was well paced, there were some surprises in the later half that I was pleased with.

However, I have a few reservations about it. First, Katsa has an extremely negative view toward marriage. She believes that if she marries, she loses her freedom, and even if her husband were to give her all the freedom she wanted, it would not be her freedom, it would be his to give or take and therefore it wouldn't be the same. It's hard to understand where this view comes from. Katsa's parents died before she could even remember. She has not observed anyone's marriage to get this perception from. Secondly, because of this belief, Katsa and Po make a decision to be together as lovers and yet not marry.

So because of that I would not recommend this book to just anyone. It's a great story, and a fun read - just not so great for people that would be too easily influenced or offended by Katsa's bizarre views.

There's already a prequel in the works called Fire, and then there should be a sequel. Looking forward to both, but I wish the sequel would be first! And I'm hoping that maybe Katsa will change her mind and marry him!

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