I received an ARC of Fire by Kristin Cashore at Comicon in 2009. I was immediately drawn to her characters and the world she created in the prequel to Graceling. Now, two years later, I’ve taken the time to enjoy Graceling and I’m sorry I waited so long.
In Graceling, Kristin Cashore paints a strong main character in Katsa. A fiercely independent and determined young woman, graced with “killing.” In Katsa’s world, certain people have Graces, evident by their mismatched eyes (in her case, one green and one blue). She is controlled and ruled by her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, who utilizes Katsa’s abilities for his own by making her an assassin. She is asked to torture, kill and injure those who defy the King.
But Katsa, disgusted with being Randa’s henchman, is part of a secret Council that watches over the seven kingdoms and brings justice to its people. A new mission introduces Po, a Lienid prince Graced with combat skills, and Katsa is matched in skill for the first time. As their friendship grows, they begin to investigate a mystery with deadly consequences and face a truly terrifying enemy. King Leck of Monsea is a sadistic, twisted villain, determined to regain custody of his daughter, who Po and Katsa are protecting from the King’s sinful intents. In all honesty, King Leck of Monsea made my skin crawl in this book, just as he did in Fire.
Katsa and Po’s relationship grows naturally and isn’t overwrought with phony star-crossed lovers syndrome. Nor are they soul mates. They come together naturally overtime through mutual respect and admiration. Refreshing. However, the sexuality in this book is definitely more suited to those on the older side of the YA audience. This is a stunning debut novel, in true fantasy style.