by Kristin Cashore
January 22nd 2009 (first published 2008) by Gollancz
Hardcover, 352 pages
Placement in the Pile:
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. (Goodreads)
I loved this book. Katsa and Po are such great, strong characters, and I loved their story. (though why did she have to name him Po?) Po is just amazing, (despite his name, ha ha!) I totally am in love with him. It is a sweeping ride, from the beginning to the conclusion (although I am hoping for more). The writing is moving and emotional. I don't want to give any spoilers, so just go read it!
It would be rated borderline PG-13/R for the violence and some sexual content, but it wasn't too over the top, considering her grace is killing - and she is very good at it.
The "prequel-ish" book FIRE was just published on September 24th, and I am interested to read it. It is not a true prequel, it involves a different world from what I can tell, but there is one crossover character. I do hope we will get more of Katsa and Po soon. There is a book called BITTERBLUE on goodreads, but there is no information on it yet, so I'm not sure if it is a true sequel or not. (Bitterblue is a secondary character in GRACELING)
It is definitely worth the read!