~ Audiobook Review: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) ~

Published October 1, 2008

Author: Kristin Cashore

Narrator: Emma Powell

Audiobook Length: 12 hours 5 minutes

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.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

Graceling (#1)
Fire (#2)
Bitterblue (#3)
Winterkeep (#4)
Seasparrow (#5)

Graceling is the first novel in the Graceling Realm series where I have seen a huge range of feelings from those readers that love it and those that cannot stand it. The story itself starts right in the middle of the action, which immediately threw me a little, but I appreciate Cashore’s attempt at doing something a little different than others of this genre. Gracelings are children born with an unusual skillset (graces) where they are sent to the royal guard and the king chooses which to keep closer. Kasta has the grace for killing, which makes her a great weapon for her uncle, King Randa. Soon Kasta meets feeling warrior, Po, who searches for the person Kasta rescued, which set a series of events in motion. The series itself focuses on different main characters weaved together by graceling abilities. In this one, readers follow Kasta who is on a self-discovering journey.

Kasta is not a fan of classic feminine things like dresses or marriage. The writing does not fully make it clear if she is against them in general or just for herself, which can make it read differently depending on which way you interpret it. Her character is written where she is more impulsive with some tendencies toward anger, yet she does have a more vulnerable side. Unfortunately, she is also judgmental of others, and it does come across as femininity is anti-feminism. I don’t think this was the intention of the author, but I think the writing needs a little more work to get the point across better.

The land in this novel is divided into seven kingdoms: Lienid, the island kingdom, Monsea, mountain kingdom, Middluns, the middle kingdom, Nander, the northern kingdom, Estill, the eastern kingdom, Wester, the western kingdom, and Sunder, the southern kingdom. The world-building is simplistic, which I think worked well for the story as it kept the focus on the characters and plot. There is a divide between the graced and the non-ones, which was nicely laid out in the story. The novel was easy to follow, and I enjoyed Po and Katsa getting to know each other. I am not quite on board with shipping a romance between them, but I did enjoy them together. I liked the idea behind the entire concept of the story and characters, but I think it needed a little more polish to come across better to me as a reader. As-is, some of the message gets lost, but there is enough for me to be curious to continue the series in the future.

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