So, I was the odd-duck and listened to Fire by Kristin Cashore first, which is the companion novel to Graceling. I can tell you that it is safe to read them out of publishing order, though I did have to check with my reading buddy on one name that I think would have been an obvious connection to me if I had read them the other way around. In any case, I had been hesitant to grab Graceling on audiobook because it has a different narrator than Fire (and I loved Fire’s narrator), but I just put some time between the two and didn’t have any problem adjusting. Even better, Graceling is a full-cast audio, so each of the characters has their own voice actor :D.
His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….
Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.
Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.
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. – Goodreads
- The whole Grace magic system is really interesting and Katsa and Po’s graces are no exception, especially since everything is not as it initially appears ;-).
- This is the first full-cast audiobook that I’ve listened to, and I had to get used to it, but once I did, I really loved it. I solves the problem of the opposite gender voices never quite sounding right, and helps make sure all the characters (even minor ones) are distinct.
- Katsa is a bit of an odd character, but she develops well towards the end of Graceling.
- The narration got a wee bit overdramatic at times. If I was reading the dialogue in a physical book, I would have pronounced the sentences much different, and I think I would have enjoyed the tense scenes between Katsa and Po towards the end of Graceling much better.
- For some reason, the romance between Katsa and Po just didn’t make me swoon as much as others have. This might have been due to the previously mentioned overly dramatic narration, or perhaps it was because Katsa was just a little too cold for me even when she starts to thaw. I’ll need to try reading Graceling after the memory of the audiobook has faded to decide.
While I liked the companion novel, Fire, better than Graceling, the world and magic system are still freaking awesome. The characters of Po and Bitterblue easily made me smile, and while Katsa didn’t win me over quite as thoroughly, I still very much enjoyed Graceling. I’m looking forward to seeing what Cashore comes up with as she matures as an author, because so far she has thought up two really interesting countries separated only by a mountain range. I can’t wait for whole new worlds :D. I’m also very excited to get my hands on a copy of Bitterblue, since that little princess is adorable!