In a land of seven kingdoms, some people are born with a Grace, an enhanced ability. This ability may manifest within days or years of birth, revealing itself suddenly and marked by differing eye colors. Some Graces are for swimming, cooking, archery, etc. And others are less obvious: mind reading, persuasion.
Katsa is just a child when she reveals her Grace by accidentally killing a man attempting to fondle her. After learning to control her Grace, she becomes the punishing hand of her King, King Randa of the Middlins. Unhappy but submissive in her brute role, Katsa performs her King’s commands.
When Katsa meets Po, a Graced fighter from the island kingdom of Lienid, the possiblity of a free life emerges. She breaks free of Randa’s grip, fighting for the weak. When She and Po embark on a mission to discover the truth behind a kidnapping, they learn horrors and face a danger that will test both their Graces.
Katsa is a herion as strong as Tamora Pierce’s Keladry (Protector of the Small series). Cashore weaves action with reflection and romance to acheive a well-balanced, exciting plot. She is a wonderful storyteller that reuses ideas (Xmen, Heroes, etc. echoed here) in a fresh exciting way. I couldn’t put this one down and look forward to more from the new author.