Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Review by Librarian Rachel from the Healdsburg branch
Katsa was born into a royal house in a time and place where some people possess an extreme skill, called a Grace. Katsa’s unfortunate Grace is that of killing. She is lightening fast, needs little sleep, is incredibly strong, and has endurance few can imagine. Her uncle, King Randa, is an unscrupulous ruler who uses Katsa’s Grace for his own ends. But Katsa is not content to be a pawn in her uncle’s games. She and her band of friends, called the Council, use their talents and influence to right the wrongs perpetrated by King Randa. It is during a Council mission that Katsa meets another Graceling, Po. This chance encounter sets in motion an adventure that takes Katsa over mountains in a blinding snowstorm and across seas to a rival kingdom. While Graceling is a book full of high adventure, Katsa herself is not a heroine soon forgotten. I find that I enjoy best books whose characters are truly flawed. Katsa must learn to control her Grace, a skill very difficult for someone whose very essence is to kill. The relationship between Katsa and Po is great because they are equals – the boy never rescues the girl and the girl must not out wit the boy in order to win his respect. Fans of Tamora Pierce’s books will love Graceling.