I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book; I honestly don't. Maybe I expected some complicated fantasy world that I would have trouble being comfortable in. But no, Graceling by Kristin Cashore is every bit as good as everyone else said, or maybe even more.
Eighteen-year-old Katsa, the niece of King Randa of Middluns, has been able kill a man since she was a young girl. She's a Graceling, a person who is extremely skilled at something and recognizable because they have eyes of two different colours. Katsa's Grace is killing, and her cruel uncle uses her as a weapon against his enemies.
When Katsa meets prince Po of Lienid, whose Grace is fighting, she realizes she doesn't have to do her uncle's bidding, and decides to leave the court with the Lienid to find out who kidnapped his grandfather. Katsa is about to find out the truth about her own Grace, as well as a secret that could destroy all the seven kingdoms.
I loved Graceling so much more than I expected. It's a perfect book, filled with adventure, mystery, and a love story - because I'm in love with prince Po! I loved it when Katsa asks him about his tattoos and he tells her that they don't have any specific function, but they're there to make him attractive to his wife. She's all embarrassed and asks him if he's married. Lol!
Katsa is a kick-ass heroine. She's regarded by most people as a cold-blooded assassin, after at eight she unconsciously killed a man who tried to molest her. While at first she thinks she needs to obey her uncle's orders, since all Graceling of the kingdom are property of the king, she also founds a secret organization which helps people who are victims of injustice. She doesn't want to get married or have children, because she doesn't see herself fit to be a mother. Her courage and ability with a cross and bow sort of reminded me of Katniss from The Hunger Games - even the names are sort of similar.
Actually, I read the Italian translation of the book and the main character's name in there is Katje, not Katsa. I guess it's because the original name sounds almost like an Italian swearword. (But it wasn't that evident, at least not to me: I thought hard about it and this is the only possible explanation). It happens with names in children's fiction. For example, I remember that in A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Gemma's friend Pippa becomes Pippi (as that word in Italian is slang for, ahem, a hand job). But let's not digress.
I loved this book! Heavily recommended when you're in the mood for a great fantasy world and cute love story! I certainly will be continuing with the series. Actually, I have already read Fire, so now I'm looking forward to Bitterblue. It's a good thing to start a trilogy years after the first book was published - you get to read it all without having to wait.Cover attraction:
I only have one word for it. Epic!