'In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is 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.' (Summary via Goodreads)
Note: This review will be spoiler free.
Before beginning this, I was really excited about it. I'd read the summary and watched a few reviews on youtube and the book really sounded like something I would love. At first, I was slightly disappointed. Although I was a fan of the writing style, the story in itself was slow at first. I was determined not to let this bother me, and the whole idea of 'Graces' and this new world kept me interested enough to power through. After the first 100 pages or so, the story picks up considerably and I must say from the moment Katsa and Po decided to leave the Middluns together I was loving it.
I loved Katsa, and it's actually a big deal for me to like her because I usually don't take to female lead characters, but she was written amazingly well. I really enjoyed learning about her situation and seeing more of her personality as the book progressed. She's imperfect, which is exactly what makes her so likeable. The romance between Katsa and Po was completely believable, you could see why they worked and why they fell for each other and I was rooting for them the whole way through. I loved how they started as friends and actually remained friends for a period of time before anything started to develop.
There were a couple of things I had a problem with though, the first is Bitterblue. I liked her as a character throughout the book, and by the end I loved her. However, my problem is not with the character, but how her dialogue was written. I just couldn't picture any 10 year old child speaking the way she spoke, not even in the 'Graceling' world. The second issue I had was the world-building, except for Lienid all the other kingdoms seemed to mesh into one for me, as we were barely told of any cultural or landscape differences. I hope that the other books in the series allow us to see all of these differences, I think it would make the world much more convincing and real.
As for the ending, I thought some of it was rushed but when I finished reading I felt content with how things had turned out. In a way, this is a good thing as most books that are part of a trilogy or series tend to leave many problems behind that need to be solved in the next instalment. The bad news is I am so happy with the ending that I don't even know if I want to continue the series because things can only get worse from now on, otherwise there would be no plot at all!
In the end, I did like this book, but I didn't love it. The story and the characters were intriguing enough to keep me reading to the end, despite pacing or descriptive problems.