When I first picked up Graceling, I was not expecting a kind of 'medieval-esque' storyline filled with Lords and Ladies at all as I was hoping for something different seeing as I'd only read Eragon a couple of books ago with the same kind of theme. However, I was truly, utterly blown away with the direction this book took a very stereotypical theme.
Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa's life. Yet she remains defiant: when the Kind of Lienid's father is kidnapped she investigates and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own? The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out - but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the myester. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one eyed king.
This book was an absolute pleasure to read, and this definitely distracted from the writing that has left something to be desired. Now I'll admit I'm not the most amazing writer ever, (but I don't plan on writing a novel anytime soon) but the grammar in this book wasn't as good as it could be. Don't let this put you off though, as the story definitely takes precedence in this amazing book. The twists and turns, the action, and the originality of the abilities of the characters created a world that I could not put down.
Our heroine Katsa was a difficult one, I didn't despise her and I didn't like her either. She's a strong, quite emotionless character that knows what she wants and does everything in her power to see it through. The fact that I have no preference of opinion over whether I like her or not makes Cashore's character development all the better as that is the type of character that I imagine she wanted to create - one of mystery, one that you didn't know quite what she would do or how she would feel and one that would surprise you sometimes with her actions. Her relationship with Po the Lienid prince was a joy to read - he had the presence that could calm her but could also infuriate her which made this relationship turbulent at times and this is what made it all the enjoyable.
I felt that the character development between Po and Katsa was well written, as it was a believable realtionship between characters of such different personalities and in some ways relates to the idea that opposites attract in many ways of life. I felt the relationship between the two characters to be so real that at one point I became emotionally attached to the book, and I admit a tear almost fell - this is something not many authors achieve with me as it takes a lot for a book to affect me emotionally (not with movies, I'm a complete emotional wreck in those).
The pace of this book was brilliant, time was spent well on each section of the book and not one in particular scene was spent too long on in comparison to the others. It wasn't a boring book in the slightest and my attention was always fully on the story at hand and wondering what would happen next.
When I was getting towards the end of the book I thought the ending was a little disappointing, but this was because it seemed to end a little bit too soon for my liking. I was proved totally wrong however, as the main ending would just be the beginning of the end - feeling the consequences of what had happened and an even bigger twist that shocked me completely. It ended brilliantly and I am so glad that the next book in the series doesn't carry on from this as I think that it held enough finality in the last few pages that it didn't warrant a sequel.
Cashore, despite the little issue of the grammar, is a spectacular story teller and I loved this book to the core. When I thought it would play out differently I shocked to see she took another turn for the characters. Brilliant.