Katsa is renowned throughout the seven kingdoms as a killing machine. The telltale sign of her two differently-colored eyes is just an afterthought to the reputation she has earned since she was young for using her Grace for killing. But rather than reveling in her strengths, Katsa despises the gift she has, and how she is used by her less-than-kind uncle, King Randa. She feels she has no choice but to follow his every command to intimidate those who don’t obey him with a little torture.
Then Katsa meets another Graceling, Prince Po, from the kingdom of Leinid, who is quite a talented fighter himself. Po’s grandfather has been kidnapped, and even though they are able to rescue him, the mystery still remains as to why the old man was taken — and precisely by whom. The two train together, become friends, and set off in search of information. What they find out is surprising for both of them.
The somewhat wild young woman slowly learns to trust and to be a friend to someone aside from her beloved cousin, Prince Raffin. She finds the changes in herself a little unsettling, but watching her slow transformation is satisfying.
Graceling is a fine debut — an entrancing and enthralling book that begs to be finished in big gulps. It has adventure, mystery, friendship and romance.
Rated: Moderate (if it were an adult novel, it might be a strong Mild). There is almost no language, maybe one or two very mild uses. The violence is a little graphic and detailed. Katsa chooses not to marry, to simply “have a lover,” a lifestyle I cannot recommend, especially for young readers. However, there is very little detail given. In fact, the romance is kind of just in the background to all the adventure.