Friday, April 24, 2009
Katsa is "graced" with the ability to kill, a magical gift that is manipulated by her uncle, the king of one of seven kingdoms in the realm. Katsa hates acting the thug and starts an underground group of do-gooders, called The Council, to counteract the evil of her uncle and others like him. When a secret rescue mission for The Council brings Katsa into the thick of sinister happenings in a neighboring kingdom, she'll need the help of Prince Po, who is also graced with a great skill for fighting. But Po is hiding something, and Katsa is dangerously attracted to him.
I devoured the first half of this book because the character dynamics are great. The interchange between Katsa and Po is snappy (and often made me laugh out loud). Katsa is an interesting character, rough around the edges but likable, admirably skilled but with mixed feelings about her grace. The sinister mystery that catalyzes the plot drew me in, but ultimately had no real bearing on the storyworld, which was a bit disappointing. But this is more of a character story, and the characters are very well done.
The second half of the book didn't interest me as much. I skimmed over much of a long trek through the wilderness where the character dynamics didn't have as much opportunity to play out. Another problem I had with the book was that I didn't buy some of the most important character motivations: why does Katsa let her uncle control her, and why does Po feel such a great need to keep a secret? We're given reasons, but they don't go deep enough to be convincing. Still, I really liked the story and I'll be keeping an eye out for the two companion books.