Reading this book was a test of patience and endurance I did not expect. I barreled through the first fifty pages and put it down. I came back and tried again. Another twenty pages. Still, no spark, no magic, no connection. I started getting impatient. It was well written. The characters were at times humorous and poignant. There was good and there was evil. And yet… I was not invested.
Thirty more pages. Now I was losing hope and interest. Really, there had to be something to this book. Why has it gotten such buzz, such acclaim? What am I not seeing? And then, around page 147, it struck so fast, I was blindsided. It was like lightning. All of a sudden, I couldn’t put it down. I thought about it even when I wasn’t reading it. Suddenly, I had to know what was going to happen.
And boy am I glad that I stuck it through until the end. The payoff far exceeded my expectations! What a book! What a fascinating and overwhelmingly lush world, Cashore has created. She took us from the comforts of royal life in the Middluns to the harsh cold mountains of Monsea to the breathtaking beaches and clifftop palaces of Lienid. And I couldn’t get enough.
The protagonist Katsa, while at first somewhat whiny and unsympathetic quickly grew on me, thanks to the addition of Po. He softened her, made her feel much more human, and in turn made her much more likeable. The slow reveal of the true villain, his power, and his history were both disturbing and brilliantly done.
I’ve decided to read Fire, if only to get more history on the man and how he came to be who he was in Graceling. And I have a newfound respect for worldbuilding thanks to Miss Cashore. This book is just as fantastic as everyone said, if not better. She has just earned herself a new fan.
If I have any complaint its in how long it took me to really become invested in the story. If I had given up when I wanted to, back around page 100, I may have missed out on all the magic the rest of the book contained. I know some of it was worldbuilding and history and character development… but I can’t help but wonder if there was a more concise way of doing things. Because of that, I have to give the book a B+ rather than an A. I mean, over 100 pages and still nothing…. that may just be too much.