Today is Friday, which means I'm linking up with Heather and Katie for Book Club Friday!
It's hard for me to describe how amazing Graceling is without giving away any of the major plot points. The protagonist, Katsa, is basically the fantasy fiction pre-cursor to Katniss of The Hunger Games. Except Katsa is more badass. And never wants to get married.
Cashore has created an incredible world without magic and without religion. Instead, the world of Katsa includes some humans Graced with certain talents, and scientific discoveries include herbs to prevent pregnancy.
Katsa is a complicated protagonist, as are her friends and enemies. Even minor characters are fleshed out and given nuanced personalities.
Cashore's second novel, Fire, is a prequel or companion novel to Graceling, taking place in land distant of Katsa's home. A single Graced character is present in both novels. Once again, Cashore has written a strong female protagonist. In a world of monsters, beautiful creatures who manipulate the minds of others, Fire is the last human monster.
As a feminist, I particularly admire Cashore's ability to write strong female characters who are so vastly different. Whereas Katsa mostly exhibits traditionally "masculine" characteristics, Fire is, in many ways, the ideal "feminine" character. She is an accomplished musician, she longs to have children, and she loves animals. But both women make personal sacrifices for the good of their kingdoms, both believe strongly in doing the right thing, and both are fiercely devoted to their friends.
There is so much more I want to say about Fire, but with a plot as intricate as this one, I don't want to give anything away. Just trust me when I suggest you read these two novels.
Cashore's third novel debuted this summer, but I have yet to read it. Clearly I need to visit my local library!