Books don't have to be new to be deserving of a review! On Fridays I flashback to some of my favorite books of all-time.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Katsa's differently colored eyes (one green, one blue) indicate that she has a grace, a special ability. Sometimes, a "graceling" has the ability to predict the weather or predict the future. Katsa's grace is killing. Ever since she was a little girl her uncle, the king, has used her to defend and expand his kingdom by disposing of anyone who stands in his way. Now that she's 16, she's decided to take matters into her own hands in defiance of the king. With the help of her new found friend, Po, she forms a council to bring justice to the seven kingdoms. In doing so, she uncovers levels of deceit and corruption than she thought possible and finds herself on a dangerous mission.
Uglies was my first venture into the world of science fiction and Graceling was my first "high" fantasy novel (I'd already read all the Harry Potters). What a book to kick things off! Cashore's world building (which she discusses in this Horn Book article) is impressive, the descriptions of the kingdoms and the terrain over which she travels in her quest, evoking vivid imagery. The map in the back (my personal favorite feature of fantasy novels!) is also really helpful in orienting the reader through Katsa's travels. The characters are so richly drawn and the plot so tightly woven that despite it's almost 500 pages, you'll want to read it in one sitting. (I read it in two during my winter break from grad school several years ago.) Now that it's been a few years, you can also quickly follow up your reading of Graceling with companion novels Fire and Bitterblue, in which familiar characters make cameo (and sometimes much larger) appearances and take the reader to other parts of the kingdoms.
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