Thursday, April 16, 2009

Graceling, Kristin Cashore

I always feel a little chagrined when I try to describe fantasy books. No matter how much I enjoy a particular book it always sounds silly when I try to sum it up, so I won't try. But I really liked this book, much more than I thought I would. It has such an interesting and clever premise. Katsa is a fiercely strong heroine but never in an offputtingly militant way. This is one of those stories that I truly had no clue where it was all going... it made me nervous, in a good way.

I think I am too much of a traditionalist and a romantic to be perfectly content with the ending but it is a testamant to Kristin Cashore's writing that I'm not angry about her ignoring the words of the songwriter, "evry happy plot ends with the marriage knot". I am looking forward to her next books.

"In the course of her dark and eventful tale, Cashore plays with the idea of awkwardness, how at a certain age gifts and talents are burdens, how they make it impossible to feel comfortable in the world. And in this she writes a fairly realistic portrait of teenage life into the baroque courts of her outlandish kingdoms."
-New York Times review of Graceling

"Graceling is a ... direct fantasy story, ...with its roots in abuse. Katsa is Graced; that is, she possesses magic, revealed by her odd-colored eyes. All such children are raised by their kings until they show whether their skills are useful. All her life Katsa has been told she is a savage killer, no better than a dog. The king, who is her uncle, sends her out to kill for him. The story is wrapped around the idea of a girl, trained only to cruelty and abuse, discovering her own humanity and ability to care for those who have befriended her and those for whom she comes to feel pity. She is active in her redemption; it is her choices which dictate the story, and her growing humanity that helps her to face threats to everything she comes to value."
-Tamora Pierce writing in School Library Journal's Battle of the Books

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