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review 2019-12-20 04:02
Psycho-social Development in Fantasyland
Graceling - Kristin Cashore

Graceling is a YA Fantasy novel, but the fantasy elements are extremely underplayed. Besides the pseudo-medieval setting, the only fantastical element is that certain rare individuals possess graces that give them special abilities. Gracelings are feared and hated for their powers. The tone is less Harry Potter and more Mutants from Marvel Comics.


Graceling is prime example of the contradictions of YA fiction. Its vocabulary and storytelling is so simple it could be aimed at younger teens, but it includes scenes of violence and deals frankly with sexuality in a way you would expect to be reserved for an older audience. Katsa, the main character, ticks off all the boxes of young adult psycho-social development in the course of the novel, achieving identity, independence, intimacy, and responsibility one step at a time. The author clearly feels that plot exists for the sake of character development, not as an end unto itself.


Despite the fact that its YA fiction scaffolding is very visible, I enjoyed Graceling. Katsa is an engaging character and I enjoyed watching her evolve from a feared thug into someone who genuinely cared about other people.

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review 2019-05-10 00:00
Fire - Kristin Cashore I liked the story and actually enjoyed it more than the first one. Probably because I liked the main character better.

Still I can’t separate this book from its views on feminism and other things, it’s all just not right.

Also, why the endless talk about Fire’s period? I mean all women get them and usually it doesn’t bother us all to the extent of needing to talk about it in a book about our lives. One or two references could be relatable, this was too much.

Will I read the next? Probably because I really like the story when it’s trying to pass the author’s agenda on.
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review 2018-08-18 15:02
Excellent third part of this trilogy - worth the wait.
Bitterblue - Kristin Cashore,Ian Schoenherr

This third volume is mainly concerned with Bitterblue (of the title), now Queen of Monsea, 18 years of age, trying to make sense of her role as ruler and picking up the pieces after the demise of her father's wicked reign. All of the main characters from Grace appear and play an important part and contribute to the extensive plot. Bitterblue, quite rightly, does not know who to trust and meets some other interesting characters in the city.

Quite complicated and often less-than-uplifting plotting leads to a reasonably happy conclusion and an optimistic future. It's a great read although I would advise reading the first two volumes beforehand (Grace, Fire). Aimed at the young adult reader, all lovers of fantasy should enjoy it.

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review 2018-08-02 15:19
Good second part of trilogy - original and recommended
Fire - Kristin Cashore

The second part of a trilogy, this volume centers around Fire, a "monster", whose characteristic is to bewitch those around her through her beauty. It takes place in a land to the east of the action in "Graceling" and Leck is the only common character to both books. Fire's life is changed when her power is seconded to the kingdom with dramatic consequences for all, especially those who love her or who she loves. She encounters many interesting characters, all of which are well-developed. A good yarn, this follows up nicely from the previous book and is well-told, engaging and original. It stnads alone but might be best read as part of the trilogy: I'm ready for the third part!

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review 2018-07-22 11:18
First part of fantasy trilogy for young adults - engaging stuff
Graceling - Kristin Cashore


I enjoyed this fantasy novel which deals with Katsa, a young lady with a Grace, which enables her to fight with a great deal of success. She gets involved in other Graced people from different nations, all with different abilities. She discovers a good deal about her Grace and is forced to get involved in plots and conspiracies.

There's a lot of interesting characters, well-developed, and a good deal of action keeping the reader involved and wanting to know how the story ends. Despite being aimed at the YA readership, any fantasy lover should enjoy this - although it can get a bit "soapy" at times. Recommended


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