Kristin Cashore - Graceling
Graceling is Kristin Cashore’s debut novel and the first of a trilogy about the series’ titled Graceling Realm. The novel’s story is preceded by Fire, set 30 years before the events of Graceling and published afterwards, in 2009. (Graceling was published in 2008.) The third book, Bitterblue, was just published in early May, and its story takes place eight years after the first novel. They’re often referred to as companion books rather than a series. In her work, Cashore creates a multi-dimensional fantasy universe that reveals itself layer by layer, character by character, and plot line by plot line.
Occasionally, in the world of Graceling, a child is born with different coloured eyes. These eyes denote someone with a “grace”, or a highly advanced skill. These Gracelings, once discovered, are turned over to the king to be used as tools. It is both a blessing and a curse. Those graced are ostracized and shunned from society. In the words of Cashore, they are both “feared and exploited.”
The characters in Graceling are particularly compelling. There is Katsa, the heroine, who is graced with killing, and Po, who is graced with fighting. The reader quickly discovers that nothing is as it seems in the world. The world is so shaped by the characters in it, molding the elements into a cohesive story. The author brings elements of our world into theirs, injecting themes such as justice, love, and loyalty. The characters are made human and relatable despite their overpowering physical prowess, which would have otherwise made them seem superhuman, through their personalities. The emotional growth and development of the characters is refreshing to watch, as well as strikes a chord with us readers.
Graceling and its companion books are listed as the young adult/romance/fantasy genre. For those wanting break from university textbooks, these books may be deserving of the top spot on your to read list. They hold veins of politics, romance, and adventure for a broad appeal, but its winning traits include its originality and its realistic portrayal of youth struggling with their talents and sense of self. In this way, the novel appeals to a wider audience. Graceling holds some very adult themes but Cashore writes in a simple and lucid style that makes for a strong and engaging narrative, making it simpler for younger audiences.