For those of you that are fans of fantasy, mysticism and magic, Graceling by Kristin Cashore is an excellent read! In a time of kings and queens and betrayal and politics lives a girl Katsa who has a very useful Grace. Gracelings are blessed with amazing beauty along with a special talent and identified by the mismatched colored eyes. Many gracelings possess gifts like, storytelling or dancing but Katsa is graced with the gift of fighting, one her kingdom covets and wants to control. Manipulated into service for the corrupt king, Katsa is sent as a henchwoman to do the king's dirty work and punish those against the king and to counter and calm her guilt, she forms the Council that acts secretly for justice and fairness for those accused.
We meet Katsa on a mission to rescue the Lienid King's father and joins forces with Prince Po, the captive's grandson that sets the path for the two on a very dangerous, exciting and romantic journey. Each and every character is wonderfully developed and Katsa is a heroine to fall in love with. She has struggles of her own to overcome and does grow and change as she learns more about herself throughout the pages. The romance laced throughout are not the main plot but definitly has it's place. That being said, Graceling, has one of the more true relationships than those in many of the YA books. I must warn that this romance can become more graphic than I have seen in other books as well and I would suggest the age suggestion of 14+. This is a beautifully told and adventure packed story of love, fantasy, magic and romance. It is clear that Cashore has a grace of her own - Excellent Storytelling!