Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
I don't remember why I initially put this book on my PaperBackSwap wish list, but I did. Then I missed out on getting a paper copy when I was on vacation and missed the email. But, I learned how to check out a Kindle book from my local library, so that was an unexpected bonus! Oh, and I have book 2 and figured this time, I would read a series in order!
This is classified as a young adult fantasy book. I guess that after Harry Potter and the Twilight series, the types of fantasy for children have gotten more mature. I didn't even realize this was a young adult novel until I looked it up after I read it. The writing was descriptive and clear, and the general story was engaging. In many ways it reminded me of Anne McCaffery's Harper Hall Trilogy, which I really enjoyed.
In this world, certain people are given “Graces” or in-born abilities to become an expert in something – sometimes that ability is useful, like cooking or music, but other times, it can be trivial. However, the main character, Katsa, was born with the Grace of killing. She is the niece of a king, and he uses her for his dirty work. However, she begins to question the ethics of her work, and she starts a secret society, called the Council, to protect people. During one of her missions, she runs into another person Graced with fighting ability and eventually finds that he is investigating the same thing she is, the kidnapping of an elderly member of the royal family of a neighboring kingdom. The kidnapped victim turns out to be the fighter's (named Po) grandfather. Katsa and Po work together to find the plot and realize that a king with evil and cruel ambitions has been Graced with the ability to control people's thoughts. They rescue Po's niece and struggle to kill him, which Katsa eventually does. In the process, Katsa discovers that her Grace is actually survival, and Po loses his sight, but develops his real Grace, the ability to sense the things around him. The story ends with a clear set up for the series, Po returns to his kingdom, Katsa continues to work for the Council, and the niece begins to rule her new kingdom.
I'm looking forward to picking up the next few books in the series.