The Graceling Realm Trilogy
By Kristin Cashore
I first read this YA series a few years ago. I can't remember why I picked it up (I think someone else on Shelfari liked it a lot), but I do remember getting hooked from the very beginning.
This is a YA fantasy series. There are three books: Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue. Each book in the series has a strong female protagonist, and all three are linked to each other in some way. The premise involves two separate lands divided by a large, virtually impassable mountain range. Each world has magical creatures, or humans with magical abilities. In the world of the Seven Kingdoms (Books 1 and 3), there are some humans with special abilities or extreme skills, called Gracelings. Each ability is unique to the individual, and a Graceling is recognized by the fact that their eyes are always two different colors. When a child is discovered to be a Graceling, they are sent to the King of their respective kingdom as a servant, allowing the King to exploit their abilities for his own use. In the world of the Dells (Book 2), there are creatures called Monsters, which look like normal animals except for their bright, vibrant coloring. The larger, more dangerous monster animals crave human flesh, as well as the flesh of other monsters, and they use their beauty and mental control to prey on weak-minded humans.
So what is it about this series that makes it so much fun? Well, let's see here. A lot of YA novels that you read about nowadays promote individual strength, particularly in girls. I am proud to say I am a feminist, and I'm strongly attracted to stories with strong female leads. If you've read any of the stories I've identified in my favorites, you might have noticed that each of them have either strong women characters, or promote equality, or both.
This trilogy is no exception. Every protagonist in this series possesses great inner strength, and is capable of standing alone if the need requires it.
In the first installment, Katsa is a Graceling with unmatched fighting abilities. She is powerful, smart, and fiercely independent. When the situation calls for it, she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
In final installment (takes place after Graceling), Bitterblue is a teenage girl without any special abilities, but she is still very independent, even rebellious. She also has to work hard to help thousands of people heal from a terrible past.
These strong female characters are not the only attractive things about these books. The plot and premise are extremely creative, and very well executed. Cashore paid close attention to potential plot holes and the small details in order to make her world seem more real and attractive. While her fantasy world doesn't necessarily get as specific as those created by master fantasy novelists such as Tolkien or Rothfuss, it is still detailed enough for me to consider it to be well done.
Overall this is a very creative fantasy trilogy. I really enjoyed every aspect of it and I would strongly recommend it to readers who love YA fiction, particularly those who love stories about strong, independent girls and women.
For more information on the series, click on the links below:
Details From Shelfari
Details From Goodreads
Enjoy everyone! Happy reading!
-Lisa The Dancing Bookworm