I’ve had Graceling and Fire on my shelf for a while, but waited read it until I had cleared my review schedule a little. I was absolutely right in moving this book right to the top of my to-be-read list. Graceling is the heartwarming story of Katsa, a young girl can’t make friends or develop close relationships because she is Graced with killing. It has wonderful characters, a fast paced story line, and believable political intrigue, all set within the framework of a vivid new world. However, her few friends are fast and true, and I loved her relationships with them all. Her bond with her cousin, and the respect and equality she achieves with Po before falling in love with him are refreshing to read. I loved that she wanted very much to be her own person while being in a relationship with him. I think she is great, fiercely independent, and while stubborn, not bullheaded enough to endanger those around her. The best way to describe the story is that it hurtles towards it’s conclusion. Like an avalanche, the book starts with small, seemingly unrelated events that quickly snowball into an epic adventure full of deception and danger (and a little romance along the way). The plot line is supported by a sweet romance and intricate politics, but they do not take over the story, which I liked. Since the plot takes precedence over all the other elements of the book, it is gratifying that all the characters are able to distance themselves from their personal issues to tackle larger, global issues.I feel that the writing in Graceling can be improved. The speech of the characters feels forced; they use archaic syntax but a modern vocabulary and this was jarring for me to read. Cashore also begins a lot of her sentences with For, probably to imbue the story with a quality of story-telling, but this simply breaks the rhythm of the story and makes it difficult to concentrate on the story. Despite this, I feel that Cashore is a talented writer and I look forward to seeing how her work has matured in Fire and Bitterblue.You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic.