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By Singing Light

Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.

Currently reading

The Lost Tools of Learning and the Mind of the Maker
Dorothy L. Sayers
The Seventh Bride
T. Kingfisher
Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit
Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee
Midnight Thief
Livia Blackburne
The White Hart
Nancy Springer
The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Jim C. Hines
Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
Sarah Gristwood
Graceling - Kristin Cashore http://bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/graceling-a-review/

by Kristin Cashore

Also known as the book that saved me from reading doldrums. So obviously this review will be positive.

I'm not going to give a lot of the plot here. For one thing, if you really want to know, it's all over the internet. But I didn't remember much of what I'd read about the plot when I started the book and I found that worked very well for me. It kept me engaged and interested because I didn't have many expectations about what would happen next.

I was interested to find so many conventional fantasy devices here--the hero or heroine with the unexplored and misunderstood power, the tyrannical king, the names that are slightly like ours but not exactly. I could keep listing them. But somehow in Cashore's hands they never felt tired or overdone to me. While I noticed them, they didn't bother me. I think it's because they felt sincere. Cashore wasn't trying to imitate someone else, consciously or unconsciously. She made the right decisions for her story and if they happened to be the same decisions others have made, that's okay too.

And now I'm going to ramble on a bit. Be warned. Katsa, our heroine, was a fascinating character. In an odd way, she reminded me of Irene/Attolia, from the Queen's Thief series. It was a bit like seeing the world through Irene's eyes. They both are fantastically strong characters. They're also ruthless when they need to be, natural leaders, and find it difficult to believe that anyone could love them. In fact, I first noticed the similarity when Katsa was having trouble believing that Giddon could love her--much like Irene with Dite.

Or maybe I'm just overly fond of the Queen's Thief series.

At any rate, I would highly recommend this one to anyone who likes fantasy. Be warned, there is a bit of fairly non-explicit sex. And a considerable amount of violence.

Book source: University of Washington library


I read this one very late and with high expectations given the reviews and reactions I had seen around the internet. It didn’t disappoint. The story made me think without feeling preached at and, as I said in my original thoughts, although there are a number of fantasy conventions here, they never felt old or cliched. (Jan 2010)