My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this fantasy book despite not particularly connecting with the main character. Katsa can be harsh and unrelatable, but the plot of the book is interesting. I listened to the book rather than reading it, so I think that I noticed the writing style/grammar problems less than those who were actually looking at the words.
The premise was fascinating – some people grow into special abilities called graces although each grace is different. Katsa has a fighting grace, which her King has her use to intimidate and harm people. Despite hating it, she never fights against it and accepts her position as a killer. I understand the fear of the King’s anger, but cannot reconcile that with allowing oneself to be used and abused in such a manner. She is a fighter and strong enough that no one should be able to command her. Her freedom and her choices should be her own, but she allows herself to be manipulated for a long time.
Po, on the other hand, was very likable. He brings out a better side of Katsa and forces her to realize that she does not have to be the King’s puppet. He is intelligent, a revered fighter and kind. I also liked another character, but as they do not have a role until the later half of the book – I’m afraid that talking about them might spoil details.
The world building was decent and I hope that it is expanded in future books, as this is not a standalone. The journey Katsa goes on is chronicled beautifully, but I don’t feel like I know the world itself or its monarchies well. There are seven kingdoms and I would not be able to detail customs, names or climate of many of them.
Overall, the plot is relatively predictable although there were a few points that weren’t expected. The pacing was steady throughout, but some scene changes and plot progressions seemed to jump forward when the plot would have been better served if they were expanded upon. For example, the conflict of the plot built and then the climax and “resolution” was mere moments so if you weren’t paying close attention you may have missed it.
I would recommend this to young adult/teen readers who enjoy fantasy books – and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.