Saturday 10 October 2015

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

“I'm not going to wear a red dress," she said."It would look stunning, My Lady," she called." She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face.

 I was barely about fifty pages into Graceling when I knew I was going to read the entire series. I loved everything about it. The writing style, the main characters Katsa and the little I knew about the story. By the end I had learned to love the rest of the characters, despise the villain and I definitely wanted to know more about that world.

Katsa is a Graceling, which means she has been 'graced' with a special power. Although at the beginning of the story we find her regarding her grace, the ability to kill anything and anyone, as more of a curse than a gift. She is forced to lend her abilities to the whims of the King, her uncle, who uses her has as his personal thug to enforce his will upon his subjects. Until one day she decides she's had enough.

This is barely scratching the surface. There is the secret Council that Katsa started, which is a network of people around the Seven Kingdoms, who help the helpless and right all sorts of wrongs. The council was one of my favourite things about the story.
Then there are all the other wonderful characters. Po, with this kindness and humility, and Bitterblue with her stern and quiet wisdom. And Raffin and Bann who are sooo gay for each other. And Captain Faun. And Oll.

But most of all Katsa. She's going to join my realm of beloved ass-kicking heroines, with Buffy and Katherine Tremontaine and Sam Carter and Starbuck...
Although I have to say, in a fight with any of them, she'd come up on top, no contest. She's basically invincible. And aside from her impulsiveness and her temper, she's kinda flawless. Which in someone else's hands could make for a boring character. But Katsa is the opposite of boring. Because she is quite vulnerable when it comes to love and because she keeps facing extreme challenges in order to defend the people she cares about, and because...I don't know, because she's awesome.
In a way, she's a stereotypical female action hero, because she despises everything "feminine" and has vowed never to marry or have children, but I have no problems with that. I am open to all sorts of female heroes. Those who like dresses and balls and drama like Katherine, and those who want to stay single and let their hair flow in the wind as they ride through the glen firing arrows into the sunset, like Katsa (and Merida). Also I love that she gets to represent those women who never felt the need for children but are made to feel unnatural because of that. Katsa is lucky because she has the luxury to choose her own freedom over the bondages of marriage, but she also lives in a fundamentally patriarchal society, so her choices are defined by that. She doesn't think she can have a relationship that won't limit her freedom, until she meets Po who show her that she can have both. But I am glad that she hasn't changed her mind about having children, or about getting married.
And how awesome is it that she starts teaching women to defend themselves. So awesome.

I have just started Fire and I am already missing Katsa and Po and Bitterblue, but hopefully I'll warm up to the new characters soon enough.