«Hay gente en estas tierras que tiene poderes extraordinarios a los que llamamos gracias. Una gracia puede tener un valor infinito o puede ser totalmente inútil. Una gracia puede hacer que alguien sea veloz como el viento, o que sea capaz de predecir el tiempo, mientras que otras sOlo harán que hables al revés sin pensar o te subas a los árboles. Mi nombre es Katsa. Soy un instrumento que mi Rey utiliza para castigar a sus enemigos. Mi gracia es matar.»
In a land of seven kingdoms, people with special talents, called Gracelings, are identified by their eyes Katsa s are green and blue, one of each although she s eight before her specific Grace is identified as a talent for killing. (While in the court of her uncle, King Randa, she swiped at a man attempting to grope her and struck him dead.) By 18 she s King Randa s henchwoman, dispatched to knock heads and lop off appendages when subjects disobey, but she hates the job. As an antidote, she leads a secret council whose members work against corrupt power, and in this role, while rescuing a kidnapped royal, she meets the silver-and-gold eyed Po, the Graced seventh son of the Lienid king. That these two are destined to be lovers is obvious, though beautiful, defiant Katsa convincingly claims no man will control her. Their exquisitely drawn romance (the sex is offstage) will slake the thirst of Twilight fans, but one measure of this novel s achievements lies in its broad appeal. Tamora Pierce fans will embrace the take-charge heroine; there s also enough political intrigue to recommend it to readers of Megan Whalen Turner s Attolia trilogy. And while adult readers, too, will enjoy the author s originality, the writing is perfectly pitched at teens struggling to put their own talents to good use. With this riveting debut, Cashore has set the bar exceedingly high. Ages 14 up.