Jan. 18th, 2009

Graceling

Jan. 18th, 2009 05:02 pm
lady_schrapnell: (Default)
Not so much a proper write-up of Graceling, as a) I'm lazy; b) I'm on [livejournal.com profile] steepholm 's computer (hello from Bristol!); c) this book is - deservedly in my oh-so-humble - being talked about a LOT. If I weren't a) and b) atm, I'd be able to find a lot of links of awards/shortlists and blogs, reviews, etc.

So, super-briefly, Katsa was born with a Grace, which is an inborn talent for something or other, from cooking to weather-sensing to fighting, inevitably marked by having eyes of different colours. In her country - one of the Seven Kingdoms of this world or part of it - people with a Grace are used but regarded at best as different, and probably as unchancey outsiders. She's used as an enforcer by her nasty uncle/King, as her Grace is seen to be for killing. Secretly, she's running a kind of Scarlet Pimpernel organization which aims to help anyone unfairly treated by the powers that be, across several of these small kingdoms. Enter Po, a prince from Leinid, who has come to try to find his grandfather, kidnapped by some unknown person for no obvious reason at all...

I loved the book -- loved Katsa, loved Po, loved the friendship and then romance that grows between them, love the other characters, the setting, and the Graces. It's very well-written and intelligent and definitely has a strong, independent heroine. For the sake of the one person on my friends' list who hadn't already read or ordered it but was thinking of doing so, I'll put this very carefully: it's not The Queen of Attolia, and if you read expecting that, it's likely to be a disappointment, but I do think there's something of the quality of emotional punch that that has. If that makes any sense.

There isn't a real 'but' coming about the book, as such..
Despite really liking the character who will rule after the villain-who's-killed, and liking the fact that Katsa not only trains her in fighting skills so she won't be as vulnerable, and goes on to train as many girls as she can -- I still felt a little bit unhappy that there was no way for anyone - male or female - to be safe, except to be good at fighting or to be protected by someone else who was.  This was reinforced by the fact that there was NO way to defeat the villain except by killing - and it couldn't be any kind of 'fair' fight, as that couldn't have worked.  I did like that Katsa felt bad about the way she killed this villain, as to my mind, it worked with the interesting consideration of control, both of self and of/by others.  And this just is the way this world is, I guess, whether it's my favourite kind of set-up or not.  But I am very hopeful for another book...  and extremely hopeful that one of those two acknowledgees in the back will be able to tell me that there will be another one.  Too many great characters for this to be all.  And if it weren't for the fact that they'd almost all be spoilers, I'd love to do an intertextual count comparison with someone who's read it!  

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