Back in 2009, I actually met Kristin Cashore at the Sirens Conference. I hadn't actually read the book even though the paperback version came in before I left for the conference. But it was still fun because Kristin is just a fun, cute person and definitely is very nice. She signed my copy of Graceling, which is always fun. I have the other book, Fire too, and I'm looking forward to Bitterblue.
About the Book from Goodreads: "Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone."
Overall: I liked this book. It has many characteristics that I'm fond of when I read a book. It's a fantasy novel with a strong female main character who knows how to take care of herself along with an interesting plot and world. The story was a little slow in spots, particularly near the beginning, but in the end I enjoyed reading the book.
Characters: Katsa is a decent main character. She has her flaws, her moments but overall she is a strong female who isn't afraid to take a risk. And she grows during the story. Her character really develops as she discovers things about the conflicts going on, the other characters and much about herself. Having her interact with the different characters like Po and Bitterblue really did help. Speaking of other characters, I did end up liking Po. It's good to see a male character who interacts with a strong female without being too overbearing or cocky. I'd really like to see more of Katsa and the others in the future. I know the third book follows Bitterblue but if any came that would follow Katsa I'd probably check it out.
Story: This is one of the stories I couldn't quite predict. There are a few points I could see coming but there were plenty of surprises too. The world is well developed and what starts off as a somewhat small sounding conflict grows to a bigger even with a whole different villain that first expected. I enjoyed reading for the plot and seeing how the characters made their way through.