Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: Kristin Cashore
In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.
Katsa never really had a chance in what she did with her life. I was immediately aware of this, from beginning to end. From the moment her Grace, her ability, manifested, she was doomed to be used as a tool as long as she remained with her uncle, the King of Middluns. It took her years to begin to rebel, by building the Council and going "undercover" in a roundabout way, but she remained the King's "lady killer" to everyone else.
It was only when she met Prince Po of Lienid--and I couldn't help but think of Kung-Fu Panda every time I read his name--that she began to realize how much power she really had.
This was a very enjoyable read. Katsa grew over the course of the story, and each step in the plot made sense. At one point, I was on the verge of tears, and when that area, for lack of a better term, was revisited, I was right back to nearly crying.
I think I would've liked more interaction between Katsa and some of the other minor characters, such as her cousin, Prince Raffin. One thing in the later part of the book that really bothered me was Princess Bitterblue. She was described as very young, but her speech and ability to comprehend seemed far older--closer to Katsa's late teens than a small child.
I liked the fact that this book didn't shy away from the "issue" of pre-marital sex. I thought the author did a very good job of incorporating it into the relationship between Po and Katsa without it becoming a major plot point or something that the story obsessed over. I was oddly glad to see that the author didn't reveal Po's secret to his family--I had half expected there to be a tearful family moment involving it. The ending was surprising but in a good way.
This was about changing circumstances, owning yourself and your actions, adapting to situations. It's a whole new kind of coming of age story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rating: 4 Stars