I LOVED this book! Katsa is such a great heroine and I thought the whole universe was refreshingly original. As was the concept of Gracelings.
Katsa is a girl who feels very strongly about things, she loves people with all her heart if she lets herself and believes in justice. Which is why she hates every minute of acting as her uncle's thug and hurting people for something she doesn't think is right. She doesn't put up with nonsense and is a real tomboy. I think this quote shows her character perfectly:
"I'm not going to wear a red dress," she (Katsa) said.
"It would look stunning, My Lady," she called.
She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face."
I'm always happy when the heroine isn't a weepy female, but a strong yes-I-love-you-but-I-can-take-care-of-myself-and-kick-some-serious-butt kind of girl. Katsa is superskilled in fighting, and I appreciate the author sticking to this and not having her turn for help to the nearest male in a situation she can perfectly handle on her own.
When Katsa meets Po, it's a confusing time for her. Because she is Graced with fighting, a lot of people are afraid of her and she almost never lets anyone come close to her. She's also determined not to marry or have children of her own. Po manages to worm his way into her heart and at first she doesn't accept this.
Po is a wonderful character, he's a goodhearted and sensitive man. He takes Katsa for who she is and doesn't try to change her. He's willing to let her decide where their relationship will take them. He has some secrets of his own and fights for what he believes in. He's brave to a fault, but he's not too proud to let Katsa do the things he knows she's better at, like hunting for food.
I loved the interaction between them.
I thought the concept of Gracelings was really original, it's something you're born with and not all Seven Kingdoms accept Gracelings as easily. You're gifted, but can also be an outcast because of that. I also enjoyed that somewhere along the book Katsa tests the extend of her abilities and learns that even she has a limit (though it takes a lot to get to it). I also love that Po and Katsa both learn to see their abilities in a different light along the journey.
All in all, I really loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading Fire by the same author and I've heard there will be a sequel, so that'll go on my to-read list as well!
My rating: 5 stars