Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
I was a bit worried that I had built this novel up in my mind to be better than it actually was, but the second read through did not disappoint. As I have recently begun watching Game of Thrones, this series popped into my head as I had it labeled in my mind as the less sex/boobies obsessed fantasy novel similar to Game of Thrones (and without all the ridiculous, unnecessary drawn out dialogue).
One of the things I love most about this series is that we have a young, independent, and all around BA female lead character in Katsa (similar to Katniss from Hunger Games, and I don't just make the comparison because their names happen to be similar). Sure, there is still the element of romance in the novel with the dashing young Prince Po, but Katsa's action and the novel in general do not revolve around a relationship for Katsa. The romance is more of a side aspect of the novel (similar to the Katniss-Peeta-Gale relationship(s) in Hunger Games).
I love a good fantasy novel, and Graceling certainly fits the bill. Katsa is a pawn to the elite, sent as a punisher thanks to her unique skills in fighting and even killing. But Katsa isn't happy being used in such a manner, and when opportunity arises to escape from this world, you can hardly blame the gal for trying. And while this opens up the opportunity of a relationship with Po, the story really focuses on the kidnapping of his grandfather. Katsa, yearning to escape from her life, agrees to go with Po as he searches the seven realms to solve the mystery of who kidnapped his grandfather and, more importantly, why. While the struggle in this series between the seven kingdom isn't for the king's throne, it is for power and control, and the dynamic and the unique kingdoms that Cashore creates are breathtaking.
The novel holds your attention all the way to the very end, and leaves you wanting more. Onto Fire!