Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Graceling”

Jen K’s #CBRIV Review #52: Graceling

Just under the wire. Picked this one up based on some recommendations from Pajibans/other Cannonballers. I’m surprised by how much quality literature is being churned out in the YA section of the book store. Although it helps when I’m only picking up novels after reading lots of raving reviews from intelligent adults with discerning tastes.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #32: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Title: Bitterblue
Author: Kristin Cashore
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Series: Graceling|Fire|Bitterblue (you are here)
Review Summary: Unlike Fire, this is definitely it’s own, very enjoyable story with unique new characters.  I loved the first half at least as much as Graceling but the ending was very anti-climatic.

Although Bitterblue follows Fire in publication order, this book is actually a direct sequel to Graceling.  Young Princess Bitterblue has taken over as ruler of Monsea following the defeat of her evil of father.  Despite her advisers’ desire to forget her father ever existed, Bitterblue is doing her best to help her kingdom recover from his crimes.  She eventually begins to sneak out of the castle on her own to learn more about the state of the kingdom.  As she does, it becomes clear that her advisers’ have not been telling her the whole truth and may have ulterior motives for burying the crimes of her father’s reign.

Read more here…

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #29 Fire by Kristen Cashore

Fire is the prequel novel to Kristen Cashore’s amazing debut novel Graceling.  It takes place slightly earlier in her worlds timeline and covers the background history of Graceling’s powerful villain, Leck.

Fire is both the title of the novel and the main character, a beautiful human/monster hybrid with brilliantly coloured hair, special gifts and the burden of the legacy that her monster father,  Cansrel, left behind.  Cansrel had not only been infamous for his physical beauty, but for his cruelty, his twisted appetites and his ability to control weaker minds including that of the former king.

For the rest of the review, wander by and read it on my Book Hoarding Dragon blog.

Paperback format, 461 pages, copyright 2009, 2010, 2011 by Firebird Fantasy.

Even Stevens’s #CBR4 review #5: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has known since she was young that she had a Grace (a special ability and one that is marked by two different colored eyes) different from everyone else in her kingdom.  Some are graced with athletic talent, others are great cooks, but Katsa’s talent has always been the ability to kill.  Graced with speed and strength, there is no man, or any number of men, that can outmatch Katsa’s skills. Katsa ‘s uncle, King Randa, uses her skill set to enforce his law and punish anyone who crosses him.  As a mysterious kidnapping plot is unraveled, and a stranger named Po comes into her life, Katsa’s life takes a turn and she begins to question the role she has filled for so long.

The person who recommended this book to me boldy stated  “Katsa > Katniss.” As a big fan of The Hunger Games I was skeptical of this statement, but also intrigued, as there are few things I love as much as a kick ass heroine.  I don’t know that I would agree that Katsa is greater than Katniss, but she is certainly worthy of being called an equal.  Graceling is set in a world where Kings and kingdoms exist, and though it’s a fairly typical fantasy setting, Cashore manages to eschew most of the stereotypes of the genre.  The book starts right in the middle of the action, with Katsa rescuing a kidnapped prisoner, taking down several men in the process.  Cashore creates some great action scenes, but also constructs really interesting characters with depth and dimension.   Katsa is by no means a mindless killer, and from the beginning questions the morality of using her Grace to harm others.  I really liked that she was a strong character with an equally strong personality, but was also able to step back and consider situations and consequences.  Katsa is a a believable and thoroughly  enjoyable protagonist.

I was also a big fan of Cashore’s prose and storytelling.  She strikes just the right note, mixing action, mystery, and relationships, but never uses a heavy hand.  There is a love story, but her depiction of Katsa and Po’s relationship is balanced, with Katsa and Po being equals in all aspects, and while the relationship is important to the story, it never overwhelms it.  This book is a solid mix of adventure, action, and strong characterization and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a fun, intriguing read. It is technically fantasy, but like the best stories, it transcends its genre to tell a great story about its characters and how they handle the challenges they are faced with.  I can’t recommend this book enough.

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #22 Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Reviews for books #18-21 can be read on my BookHoardingDragon blog.

Graceling is the last of the novels that I picked up last fall at a Scholastic Book Fair.  When I complained to my oldest child that I didn’t know what to devour next, she pulled it off her shelf.  I was a bit skeptical as I started into the story by debut author Kristin Cashore.  Fantasy writing seems to divide itself into one of 2 categories, stories where the characters drag you in to a world that just happens to be made up and stories where the author takes a bit too much of a reader’s time to describe the details and setting of the marvelous and unique world they’ve created.  I was a bit afraid that Graceling would fall into this “map-based” category.

Graceling’s heroine, Katsa, lives in a world with seven kingdoms, where sometimes people are born with eyes that are two different colours.  This visible physical feature indicates the inner presence an extreme degree of talent, known as a Grace, that gifts such people.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as an extreme skill at baking or healing… but in other cases, it can herald a much darker purpose.  Katsa is Graced at killing, so she is feared by almost everyone as she does the bidding of her uncle, King Randa of the Middluns kingdom.  When she meets another Graceling with skills that seem to almost match her own, she is both challenged and unsettled, especially as they are both caught up in a deepening mystery that could threaten all of  the Seven Kingdoms.

Graceling caught me by surprise and drew me into the story far deeper than I expected.  The plot twisted in ways that I couldn’t predict, which I am often able to do with beginner novels.  The main characters grew and developed as the pages turned until I came to care deeply for what happened to them.  Though the ending was not what I expected, it was still  one that I could live with and add to in my own mind.  I far prefer this to the current marketing trend of leaving everything hanging to sell the next book.  In other online reviews for Graceling or her second novel, Fire, Kristen Cashore  seems to draw criticism for a radical feminist viewpoint.  I’m not sure that refusing to wrap up a tale with a Disney-like Happy Ending necessarily makes her a feminist… I just thinks it make her a writer that lets both her characters and the readers decide their futures for themselves.

Hardcover format, 471 pages, published in 2008 by Harcourt Books

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