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In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

She lives under the command of her Uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to carry out his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him. Breaking arms and cutting off fingers are her stock-in-trade. Finding life under his rule increasingly unbearable, Katsa forms an underground Council whose purpose is to combat the destructive behaviour of the seven kings - after all, the Middluns is only one of the Seven Kingdoms, each of them ruled by their own king and his personal agenda for power.

When the Council hears that the King of Liend's father has been kidnapped Katsa investigates ... and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap him, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced fighter who challenged her fighting skills, for the first time, as she and the Council rushed the old man to saftey?

Something dark and deadly is rising in the north and creeping across the continent, and behind it all lurks the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king ...


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Anne

Interesting idea but slow story

This is a good, solid fantasy novel. Katsa is a graceling - she has a supernatural talent or grace and as such she is feared and in the service of her uncle the king. Katsa's grace is that she can kill people very easily and as such she is used by the king to assassinate and otherwise deal with people who oppose him. Katsa doesn't want to do this any more but her grace means that she is too dangerous a tool to be allowed her freedom.

The idea of the graces is unusual and the author deals well with the possible consequences of these to society at large and to the holder of the grace. This part of the book is original and worth reading. The writing is sound and Katsa is an intriguing heroine although I never really felt that I got to know and understand her well. The society in which the book is set is pretty standard fantasy sword and sorcery territory and isn't terribly original or well developed.

Where the book falls down for me is the pacing. Not a lot happens and it happens very slowly. We get bursts of excitement such as at the beginning or when crossing the mountains but the passages between are long and don't move the story along fast enough - I actually don't think that there is quite enough story here.

I will buy the next connected book in the series but I want it to move faster or to hold my interest more. A good idea is not enough.

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