Graceling has been on my shelf for two Christmases now. I bought it as a blind date with a book at Malaprops bookstore in Asheville, NC in 2015, and I forgot about it. I would see it on my shelf and move it around. This book has had many the home in my room.
I’ve steered clear of the audiobook that’s been taunting me from my public library because I wanted to read a physical copy of the book. I finally caved when looking for a good book when I accidently let my other expire without finishing it.
At first, the book scared me. I say scared because this is a full cast audiobook, and I didn’t realize what that entailed at first. One minute the narrator was speaking (a male voice), and the next Katsa’s voice echoed through my car’s speakers (a female voice). The words were there: full cast audio—I saw them, but I didn’t understand them. If you’ve never read (listened) to a full cast audiobook, be prepared for an experience similar to the late night radio show/stories that I remember loving as a kid. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it through the book at first. It was strange and different than any other one I’ve encountered. But the more I listened to it, the more I fell in love with it. I was even a little disappointed that book two, Fire, wasn’t a full cast audiobook, too.
On the actual story, the first half is slow. Not achingly, waiting for Rose to let go of Jack, even though she promised not to slow, but slow. I didn’t understand how everything tied together at first. It took me a bit to get the importance of the council, but after it all fit into place, I loved it. To break it down: the first half of the book was three stars, whereas the second half was five stars.
Katsa was amazing. She knew what she wanted in life, and could protect herself against everything and anything. I had one problem with her character: her resistance to ever get married. I know some will think it’s fine that she never—and I do mean NEVER because she stated very plainly it wasn’t happening—wanted to marry someone. Sure, you’re a strong woman and don’t need a man, but I think she missed something in translation when in came to marriage, especially if that marriage involved Po. It was the biggest problem that I had with her. She was too stubborn. In the end, her refusal to ever marry didn’t seem like a choice to own herself, but a stubborn decision she made and refused to part with purely because she made that decision and was sticking to it.
Most importantly, I loved when Katsa showed her fun side. She was lovable and kind, and even though she had a bad reputation, she didn’t let it weigh her down completely. There were moments when her spirit was infectious. On the surface, she might have killed a man at only eight, but her heart was good. She wanted to protect herself and others.
I loved the romance (minus that tidbit). Po was fantastic, and I loved how they challenged each other. They fit so well, and I honestly don’t think there is anyone else in any other kingdom that would be as wonderful for them as each other.
Bitterblue is introduced in this book, and I loved her. Even at only eight, she already had a strong backbone and a determination that some people never find. Her character made me excited for the next book in the series, even though her book isn’t until book three. I liked this world, and I loved Cashore’s writing style. I’ve already started book two, as I mentioned before, and love it, too.
If you’re looking for a strong female lead, look no further. If you love fantasy, especially in the traditional (i.e. voice) sense, then this is the book for you. I loved how the characters spoke like they were in a fantasy realm, not 2017. I couldn’t wait to listen to more and learn more about the characters. It’s a must-read.