Kristin Cashore’s Graceling

**spoiler alert**
gracelingI was sucked in immediately. I always appreciate a strong female character, and Graceling didn’t disappoint on that front. I loved the relationships between her and the other characters. All characters and relationships were different, and all were delightful in their own way.

All the same, it bugged me that she never settled into herself. Like many good protagonists do, she goes on a journey about self-discovery that is beautiful, and complex, and totally fun to follow. Then at the end, when she’s mostly figured herself out, instead of making the sacrifices necessary to be with the one she loves, in order to grow together with him, she decides that she’s going to continue her journey alone and basically kicks his butt back to his house.

To be fair, she announces her intentions to never tie herself to anyone, all through the book. I thought that once she didn’t need to focus on herself so much that she might be able to give to someone else. I guess I was just hoping for a less selfish ending to an otherwise delightful book.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mali Subbiah on October 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I liked the way you talked about the book without giving away anything about the book. This book reminds me of Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Woman.” Seeking a meaningful relationship and failing to find one in her lover, the protagonist of the poem decides in the end that there is nothing wrong in going it alone by herself. I haven’t read the book; may be it does something different than the poem.


    • Actually the two characters remain in love, supposedly devoted to one another, but decide to part anyway. I don’t know. That just doesn’t seam like devotion to me. I know people choose their careers over love all the time, and it’s beyond reason to me. But I would (and have) sacrificed all else to unite with my true love. Perhaps I am prejudiced by my own experience.


  2. I love to see strong female characters as well. It’s something that I look for when I read a book or watch a movie. It sounds kind of like a let down at the end though. I don’t know. I am similar to you on this Lyn. I would have a very difficult time parting with someone that I truly loved. Heck, I don’t like it when my husband has to travel for work. I wonder sometimes if that is an inherent personality trait of mine or something I assimilated from LDS culture.


  3. I recently re-read this book because it’s our book of the month in November and I needed a refresher. I loved it as much this time as I did the first.

    I do understand your point about Katsa. I was frustrated with her as well the first read through. How could she not love him enough to devote her life to him? (Not naming any names to remain spoiler free) To me “He” is one of the most amazing characters I’ve ever met. I have a tendancy to fall in love with whatever character I’m currently reading about but there are some that stick with me and he is one of them. To me he ranks right up there with Mr. Darcy, Gilbert Blythe and Ian O’Shea. So I when Katsa behaved the way she did I wanted to shake some sense into her.

    But on this latest read through I tried really hard to see things from her perspective. She has been controlled, abused emotionally and used as a killing machine for her entire life. She has never had an example of a functional, loving family. The combination of those two things makes her actions more understandable. She’s finally free of the abuse and control and her need to share the ability for others to defend themselves against that is the strongest motivator for her right now.

    I think one of the things that I love about the relationship in this book is that they don’t need each other. They love each other and are happy when they are together but are fully capable of being apart and still being happy. I think that my single status is partially to blame for me seeing it this way. I’ve had to learn to not need anyone that way so I can see how it works for them.

    I do hope that in her next book “Bitterblue” that Katsa will discover that as a continuing part of her healing process that the logical step is a permanent committment to another person. Knowing what I know about the author I don’t know that she will ever have them get married but I do hope for a permanent committment. I think that Katsa will finally see that she is truly complete and healed when that happens.

    Wow! That was a lot longer than I planned for it to be and I’m not sure it makes sense outside of my head but I tried 😉


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