Monday, March 16, 2009

Graceling review

To whom it may concern:

Hello all. How are you? Do you like being asked rhetorical questions? Do my pathetic attempts at humor bore you? My apologies, one more piece of evidence in the growing case file for why I should not write late at night. But on to more important things.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Summary from

"Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be."

Here's my take on it:

Fantasy is my favorite genre, and when I read a book like this it reminds me why. Graceling was a riveting read that I finished in the same session as I started. It was a deep yet engrossing journey of self discovery in a world where our problems seem trivial. It has the well deserved place amongst a very select group of books that I have laughed out loud and also teared up at while reading.

However, I must admit (since it can't be all sunshine and daisies) that it did take me awhile to get involved in the lives of the characters, because the names used (for both people and places) were, in a word, horrible. I found myself unable to take many of the characters seriously when they were laden with names like Po, Randa, or Bitterblue. Luckily the book was so good, that by the end most of the tragically odd names had become endearing, though I still found myself snickering at the expense of poor Bitterblue's name. On the plus side, if ... odd ... naming choices in a book I wrote were my largest concern, I would be quite happy with that. So, Kudos Kristin Cashore, and thank you for a great book.

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. Fantastic book. I give it four very magical stars. Heres why:

Two stars: A beautiful rich fantasy world that is painted for you in a way that only the imagination can provide. The idea behind the world is ingenious, a refreshing step away from the normal elements of fantasy, and it is carried out with an elegance and precision that should make any writer proud.

One star: A charming cast of characters that you quickly fall in love with. The kind of characters you can cry with, laugh with, and go on daring adventures with.

One star: A compelling, heartening story that never goes into the ridiculous, or tries too hard to entertain, and yet, manages to be surprising, exciting, and mostly free of the storybook cliches which haunt too many books.

Later guys,


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