Graceling

Graceling - Kristin Cashore Amazing. Quite possibly one of the best books I've ever read. I loved the characters, the story, the adventure, the romance. I simply could not put it down.

Katsa is a Graceling, a human gifted with a special ability. Hers is the ability to kill. Her fighting skills are unmatched, and she's lethal with every weapon. Unfortunately, Katsa's uncle, King Randa, uses her deadly skill to bully his subjects, punish those he feels have wronged him, and to gain victory over his enemies. Katsa hates being feared by everyone who sees her, but she feels powerless to change her fate.

Then Katsa meets Prince Po. Po is also a Graceling, imbued with the ability to fight. At first wary of Po, Katsa respects his fighting skills, begins to trust him, and soon the two become friends. Together they set out to discover who and why someone would want to kidnap Po's grandfather, and on their journey Katsa discovers things about herself that she never knew as well as unearthing a horrible secret that could destroy not only Katsa and Po but all of the people of the Seven Kingdoms as well.

Katsa is a true kick-ass heroine. Po is a hero worth swooning over. And the danger that they come up against is truly spine-chilling. I've never read a book in which I was so afraid for the characters. At times, I didn't know if I could read on because my concern had reached a fever pitch.

If I had to find one quibble - and it is nearly impossible for me to do so - perhaps it's that the names given to the imaginary places of the Seven Kingdoms are kind of simplistic for such a well-formed world.

This joins the short list of my all-time favorite books. Amazing.