I realise I'm a few years behind the curve here, seeing as the last instalment of the trilogy came out at least a year ago. But I had heard really good things about Graceling, so I figured I'd do what I normally do: check out the hype long after it has died.
In the world of Graceling, the title word refers to individuals who are born with an exceptional talent for something, identified by their heterochromia (known as differently coloured eyes to those of you who have better uses of their time than I do). The main heroine, Katsa, is one such individual, who has the unfortunate Grace of Killing; as a result, she has been raised to be the strong-arm of the King of Middluns. Despondent about the way her life is going, she decides to investigate the seemingly motiveless kidnapping of an old man from the Lienid royal family. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she finds that the evil mind behind it could threaten the entire world as she knows it.
I'm rather sad that I didn't get to this earlier. I honestly can't think of anything that Graceling does wrong. The characters are complex and incredibly sympathetic, the most obvious, spoiler-free, example of which is Katsa herself. On the one hand, she is incredibly proud of her ability to defend herself, but she's just as scared of that ability and the potential that she could abuse it. The romance that's included is touching, very subtle and, for once, plot relevant. The plot itself is really well-written, to the point that the tag line on the cover, stating that Graceling "will slake the thirst of Twilight fans", genuinely bothered me; the two books are in such different leagues that it ceases to be funny. I really want to express how much I loved this book, but everything that I love is something that people should discover for themselves.
A fantastic book. Definitely something that I would recommend as a gateway into the fantasy genre. It also has one of the coolest heroines I've read in a long time. 5/5
Next review: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima