The Graceling Realm Series By Kristin Cashore

5099602“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”

About 4 years ago a friend recommended I read a fantasy book she had stumbled onto. I’ve always loved a good fantasy so I was very eager to read it, especially when I saw the amazing cover (yes, I’ve judged many a book by it’s cover).  I borrowed the book from her and once I picked it up I just couldn’t put it down. Graceling ended up being my favourite book (second only to the prequel Fire) and I ended up buying my own copy of both just so I could read them again… and again… and again.

Book 1: Graceling

What it’s About:

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. So when the father of on of the land’s Kings is kidnapped she investigates, thinking in might just be her a way out. But there’s something insidious and dark lurking behind the mystery, and in order for Katsa to unravel the secrets, and free her world from an unknown tyrant, she will have to work with someone who might just steal her heart.

What I thought:

This book is amazing! From the first page you are hooked. It’s quite refreshing to read something in this genre that’s not exceptionally long winded and a struggle to read. Cashore has a fantastic writing style and an incredible imagination. The story is easy to follow yet still very intricate and clever. I really enjoyed being sucking into the world of the Graced, I also really loved that, for once, the “superpower” wasn’t necessarily something you coveted. Don’t get me wrong though, if I lived in this world I would loved to be one of the Graced, but with some reservations.

The character of Katsa is well thought out and engaging. She is on my list of the best kick-ass heroines. I liked that she was a character that was not your typical old-school woman, she is tough and intelligent.  She has the support of men who might not think a woman could rule and strikes fear into the men who are too stupid to respect her. I fell in love with Po. His character comes out of nowhere and steals more than just Katsa’s heart. I loved the way he was with her, he’s patient with her and works hard to make her feel like a person and not a monster. Their relationship was so amazing, there are parts where you can feel their love seeping off the page, and it makes your whole body tingle.

I enjoyed every word in this book, the story is captivating down to the last page and you just can’t put it down. This is the kind of book you pick up every so often and reread it just for the excitement of the story, and because you miss the characters.

6250211Book 2: Fire

What it’s About:

The Dell is a land where amazing creatures called Monsters thrive. These creatures are beautiful with the power to control the minds of their pray. The majority of Monsters that live are animals, but deep in the Dell one woman stands as the last remaining human Monsters. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is equally hated and adored, she has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

The young king is clinging to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him, and Fire might be the only one able to help him. When a hansom soldier come to retrieve her for the king, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

What I thought:

Set several years before book 1, Fire is technically the prequel but can be read as a stand alone book (both can). I would definitely recommend reading them both though, as they are both equally incredible. I would suggest reading them in the right order as well, as there is one character that is in both books and while he might not be the most important character, knowing who he is makes the reading experience different.

I have to admit I enjoyed this one just a tiny bit more then Graceling. There was just something so captivating about Fire, her spirit and ability to keep cool when everyone around her would go mad at the sight of her, was infectious. I really liked the fact that she was all girly too (which is not usually my thing), she insisted on dressing like a lady and acting like one, even when at war. She’s also got a great sense of humour and she’s incredibly passionate. As much as I love Po, I love Brigan more. In the beginning his treatment of Fire is aggressive and harsh but there is so much more behind it and him. He has secrets and a past that’s full of pain, yet he’s still tender and kind, intelligent and a good soldier.

The story is so well written with some quirky lines thrown in and some serious action. Cashore isn’t scared to get her characters hurt and broken, which I really like. She also writes every character with a rich background and real life to them. I have to admit, every time I read this book I feel like a piece of my soul stays in the book at the end, and it’s worth every sacrifice!

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