Katsa lives in a kingdom that is medieval in nature, but, of course, there are special people called Gracelings. They can be identified because they have eyes of different colors and each Graceling can have a different grace. A grace is the amplification of any skill; swimming, dancing, fishing, fighting, reading, or the playing of music. Katsa is “graced” with the skill of a tremendous fighter-sword, bow and arrow or dagger all are lethal weapons in her hands, as are her own hands and feet. Katsa lives in a castle with her uncle, the king. People fear her and she has but one friend, the son of the king. Despite Katsa’s own desires, she has to be the henchman for her uncle, hurting people to send his messages. To combat this, she has created the Council, which does good deeds throughout hers and the surrounding kingdoms. It is during one of these rescue missions where she rescues an old man, that she encounters a Leinid, someone that is from a kingdom that is farther away. He is also graced with fighting, but not as talented as she is. Slowly they become friends and then must go on a journey together to investigate the source of the kidnapping of his grandfather, the old man Katsa rescued.
This is a well written, complicated and fast paced novel with some raw violence. What I liked about it is that the main character is a fiery woman who is talented at fighting. We get to know her thoughts and her struggles with her violence, as well as her struggles with her role as a female in a male dominated world. At one point a man asks her to marry him and she can’t do it because it’s not within her character to submit to a man, and that’s what marriage means in the middle ages. As the story unfolds, watching her mature is a wonderful experience. The only thing I would change about this book is that there is sex. I can’t get around that and I can’t recommend this book to anyone younger than 14 because of it. It’s a shame because I really enjoyed the rest of the book.