I read this book a while ago and have been holding onto the recommendation. I can not really explain why I waited so long. All I can say is that I was worried my words would not be able to do the story justice. It is that good that I feel intimidated to even write a simple suggestion that you rush out and get this book (but go get it anyway!).
Graceling is set in another time or another place where the wealthy live in castles and travel is on horseback. In this world a few rare people are born with often feared powers called graces. The special skill they have can be something unthreatening like swimming, baking, singing and even dancing. A grace can also be more of a supernatural skill worth fearing like the ability to read minds. The graced or gracelings, who can always be identified by the fact that they have two different colored eyes, often live solitary lives. Their skills cause so much anxiety that few are willing to get close to them.
The protagonist of this story is a graced teenage girl named Katsa. She is the niece of one of the seven kings in the region of nations mapped out in the book. Her skill was discovered when she was just a child living at her uncle’s court. A man she was distantly related to wouldn’t leave her alone so she hit him in the face. When it killed him the king wasted no time in using her talent to control the people around him. For years Katsa is forced to do his dirty work, often hurting and even killing people. Finally she stands up to him and sets out on an adventure where she will find out who or what she and her grace really are.
Basically this is a coming of age story, but I found it to be more unpredictable than some books I have read. I pride myself on knowing what’s going to happen in most stories or movies. This book had so many twists and turns that I kept finding myself surprised.
I also want to mention Kristin Cashore’s writing style. She uses very descriptive words, but they’re not flowery or overpowering. I found them to have a striking elegance which made reading this, her first novel, a pleasure. In fact, it moved me.
Graceling is the first book of a three part series. It is followed by first Fire and then Bitterblue. You can read more about the Graceling Series at http://www.gracelingrealm.com/index.html
Kristin Cashore’s personal blog is on blogspot: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/
She in herself is worth following.