I love books that have strong female characters. Recently I have been reading a lot of books in the sci fi/fantasy realm that has strong female protagonists.  I couldn’t get enough of Katniss in Hunger Games and Dru from Lili St Crow’s Strange Angels series has won me over as well.  Now let’s talk about my newest favorite heroine – Katsa from Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. 

Graceling is the story of Katsa, a young woman who has is graced with skill of killing.  Interestingly enough, Katsa’s name in old Greek means pure and torture.  A lot of people in her world have Graces and most of the time these people are feared. You can tell a Graceling from other folk by the color of their eyes.  Graceling’s have two different eye colors – Katsa has one blue and one green.  But Katsa is more than just an assassin we come to learn through the pages as she struggles with her own insecurities while still maintaining her inner strength, courage, maturity, and loyalty.

 She lives with her Uncle Randa who is a king in one of the seven kingoms in this book.  Uncle Randa is not a nice guy and he takes advantage of Katsa’s grace  by making her do his dirty work whether she thinks it is right or wrong. It is an unhappy existence but one that she has come to accept. To counteract Uncle Randa’s missions, she and some others have secretly set up a Council and they work together to keep the seven kingdoms stable instead of being at odds.  

 On one mission rescuing a prince who has been kidnapped, Katsa meets Po. Po is Graced too and (which doesn’t hurt) handsome, agile and confident though some would say he is cocky. Oh and he is a prince too. I knew when they first met, with that first smirk that she had met her match. Po is as good of a fighter as Katsa. Their relationship from the git go fascinated me to no end. He challenged her in every sense of the word, totally infuriating her. He smoothed out her rough edges and believe me, Katsa has a lot of rough edges. I think he was a good influence on her. As in many epic romances, she hated him at first but soon, unexpectedly for Katsa, the hate turned into love. 

 There are so many reasons to like Graceling. The book was fast paced and original. It will appeal to both the people who crave action as well as some romance. Cashore does an excellent job with character development.  Katsa is such a complex being. She is strong and wild and at times tender. There is more to Katsa’s and Po’s Graces than meets the eye. Graces are not stagnant, as in their case and they continue to grow and evolve throughout the story. The fantastical world complete with kingdoms she presents in this book just reverberates with excitement and suspense. All in all it’s well-written, quick to read, and thoroughly enjoyable book.