Katsa is beautiful with her one blue and one green eye, but the different colored eyes mark her as a Graceling, one Graced with special talent. A Grace can be anything from the ability to dance magnificently, tell fascinating stories, or swim with great speed.
Katsa’s Grace is her undefeatable ability to fight. She and the world discovered her grace unexpectedly when at eight-years-old she accidentally killed a man. The leering lecher reaching for her leg may have deserved to die, but she had not intended it.
A Grace of such power attracted the attention of Katsa’s uncle, king of one of the seven kingdoms. He swiftly had her trained by his best fighters, and by the time she was sixteen he’d retained her as a henchman to enforce his tyrannical laws and whims.
This was not the life Katsa would have chosen for herself, and as a secret act of rebellion she formed the Council to defend those unfairly persecuted. As the book opens she is rescuing the kidnapped elderly father of one of the other area kings, though why he’s been kidnapped no one knows.
Graceling’s characters are deep and conflicted. Katsa is so physically strong and able to take care of herself that she has difficulty with friendships, and she cannot even comprehend such a thing as marriage. Any sort of dependence on another person is out of the question.
Then she meets Prince Po, the grandson of the man she has just rescued. Prince Po is also a Graceling, with his own secrets, and demons. He’s almost as good a fighter as Katsa, and as they spar every day, sharpening their skills, they grow ever closer, even as Kats struggles to remain apart.
Between political intrigue, romance, action and adventure this book had me riveted from page one. The strong, intelligent Katsa trying to find her place in a world made mostly for men is an interesting study as well.
Graceling is recommended for ages 14 and up. Due to violence and romantic themes, it is for the older YA (young adult) crowd and even adults who enjoy fantasy adventure.