Author: Kristin Cashore
Published: October 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover: 480 pages
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight; she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po's friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace, or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
Cashore's tale is enchantingly written. Katsa is a strong yet, unsure woman who has grown up believing it is her destiny to be a killer. As she matures, she finds another purpose in life; to help others as she and committee determine are able to be saved, without the committee being revealed. She is determined to live a life of solitude, never marrying and never having children. Enter Po - a Leinid prince and the only person alive who can fight against her and still live. She is intrigued by his combat skills and they train to strengthen each others skills. He is confident and sarcastic and a wonderful character. Their connection in the story is believable as well as heart-wrenching. As the story progresses and you learn of the secrets hidden in other lands, their relationship strengthens.
The story can be slow moving at points, but its also necessary to set the tone of the story. The world created is magical, yet realistic. I found myself entranced from the beginning to the end and I would recommend this book to anyone. 5 stars.