Graceling by Kristine Cashore
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...
After finishing Bitterblue yesterday I decided to go back and re-read Graceling since I didn't really remember the story. I didn't remember the characters that were in it, and I didn't like them in Bitterblue. I wanted to see if I had changed in my thinking or if I just didn't like how they were portrayed in the last book.
I still really enjoyed Graceling. It is not my normal kind of book to read, but I quite enjoyed it. I really liked Po and Katsa's story, and I liked both of them. They complimented each other nicely. It starts off with Katsa saving someone who had been kidnapped. On the way out she runs into Po, though she doesn't know it is him at the time. Katsa is working with the underground movement she started to help people. She normally travels around hurting/killing people for her uncle. Since she was tiny and accidentally killed someone to get away from him most people have feared her. They think she has a killing Grace and so she grew up with that is what she is, a killer. That and not many people wanting to be around her for fear that she will hurt them. So she does what her uncle says, although recently she has been questioning if she really should. What would really happen if she were to stop working for him?
Then Po comes to town and man Katsa does not like him at first. They quickly bond when they start fighting each other. It is the first time either of them have had a real opponent, although Katsa is still better than Po and he agrees to that. Po was just so...I really liked him. He is really sweet and kind and doesn't care that Katsa can take him. Katsa doesn't need anyone, and she doesn't like to lean on others. She likes to be by herself and only count on herself. She has some issues when she first realizes she likes Po, and when Po tells her this. She doesn't want to get married and at first can only see the marriage or nothing options. Po loves her enough to do whatever she wants. Not get married but be together when they can be, but not see other people or anything. It works for them. They just go together so well. I loved it. They are really perfect together.
The overall story, trying to find who kidnapped the guy from the beginning and what is going on with Leck, I enjoyed as well. Trying to come up with a plan to take Leck down that might actually work was fun. Katsa is so headstrong and great in almost any situation. When someone needs her help she does everything she can for them, even if that means she suffers. I really liked her. A good, strong female lead.
Overall I really enjoyed this story. It is definitely in my re-read pile.