I have waited so many years to read the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy or Graceling Realm and finally my love affair has begun. Within the Seven Kingdoms live Graced people, these are people with various qualities that make them different and unique whether it be an excellent cook, seamstress or fighter. As the book goes on Katsa begins to question her Grace and if it is more than just strength and violence that makes her able to kill a man with her bare hands.
Katsa stole my heart. Due to her Grace she has few friends and because of this she doesn't think, act and respond to situations like a unGraced person would (you or I). I love her bluntness, her way of thinking is straightforward completely logical, but would offend or upset others because of how we're taught in society. Her personality is just right, I've never read a book where the main character is like this and it's because of this I enjoyed reading her developing friendship with Po. Seeing Katsa letting her guard down and how she is when she has to spend time with another person. She isn't afraid to ask about him, his family and what his life and the Kingdom of Lienid is like.
Po is unafraid of her and her strength, in fact he enjoys challenging her. He urges her to stand up for herself, to be a free person and no longer a weapon for King Randa. He tells her how she is more than a caged animal, her only use in life isn't to be savage and violet when ordered to. Katsa'a reaction to Po's Grace tugs at your heart. She feels betrayed by him, but I feel this betrayal is felt so strongly by her as she doesn't open up her feelings and thoughts to anyone yet to him she is almost like an open book. But as she grows to understand his Grace she's not afraid to experiment with it and use it to challenge herself when it comes to their fighting lessons.
But the thing I loved the most about Katsa was she never changed. Yes she developed with the help of Po when it came to controlling her emotions around the King and standing up for herself, Katsa knew who she was and what she wanted in life. She never wishes to marry or have children, and regardless of what happens between her and Po she doesn't get swept along by romance and suddenly changes as a person. Despite her ways Katsa has a huge caring nature, it is evident with her childhood friend Prince Raffin, he's not like his father he doesn't see her a pawn to use for his own gain. Other examples include when she is trusted with the care of a princess and take her across the Kingdoms to safety. It is clear that the young girl grows on her but even this experience doesn't change her mind on having children which part of me was expecting to happen.
The King of Monsea was rather underused I feel, but I can see why, it could have made for slow reading considering Po could only be near him. I did guess a few things about him, but it didn't spoil anything, in fact it made me more interested in him and his "perfect" Kingdom. I'm glad there was a map at the start of the book as they travel a lot and it helps to visualise where they are heading and how far they are from places as well as the neighbouring kingdoms.
I've been wanting to get into more fantasy books and this was book to start with. Most definitely worth the wait, Katsa is the perfect hero, her story doesn't revolve around finding true love and, she doesn't let her relationship with Po cloud her judgement or get in the way of job that has to be done. Although at points she wants to follow her heart and stay with Po she knows logically she must continue on regardless.
Graceling was an absolutely brilliant read, I would highly recommend.