Graceling by Cashore - The End!

Batty About Graceling.egg by mselke on Aviary
"Batty About Books" discusses Graceling  by Kristin Cashore -  the final chapters.  –

As with our previous posts, my blog is hosting my initial thoughts with Kathy’s responses (aka @thebrainlair). Her blog - The Brain Lair -  will host her initial thoughts with my responses. This is our last Graceling post, and then we’ll move on to A World Without Heroes! If you haven’t read the book – this is your formal SPOILER ALERT!

Maria: I can’t believe it’s the end! I feel like the ending was one big rush (not in a bad way) and that I didn’t write down nearly as many thoughts and ponderings as I did in the first three sections.
Kathy: Same here.  Even after I went back to reread, I didn’t have much to write down.

Maria: Okay, so I did have some thoughts. I’m not one to hold back on my observations and opinions, right?
Kathy: Ha!

Maria: I love the loyalty that Katsa inspires. When she arrives in the town and ask that storekeeper for help, there is no doubt that they will do everything they can to help her. What seems funny is how surprised she seems by this loyalty. With all that she has done, when she visits Osiris her soul is sure to be lighter than that feather – no matter what her faults have been.
Kathy: I think she still holds the belief that because she was Randa’s strong arm, she is a monster. I’m hoping that her going around training young girls in the art of fighting, will give her a sense of redemption. Randa really did a number on her, especially strong since they fear the Graced in the Middluns.

Maria: One thing I question is the fact that she still seems leery about letting those who love her assist her. Again, I’m brought back to the many superheroes I love.  Many of the women heroes (Buffy, Barbara Gordon, etc.) seem to understand that teamwork is the way to go. Katsa still seems to avoid letting others help her. I know she wants to look out for them, but I hope as she matures she grows in her ability to accept help for herself, and allow those who love her to choose their risks.
Kathy: Mostly I attribute this to her disbelief in her “superhero-ness”.  She has no faith in her own innate goodness and wonders that anyone would want to help her. Even in the council she was used as the weapon to subdue guards.  She’s only known people who want something from her.  Also, I even find it hard to accept help, or to admit I need it.  I was raised believing help is for the weak. It’s difficult for me to ask for it and even more difficult to accept it un-solicited! I have to downplay it, make a wisecrack, and only assent to a small portion of what I truly need! Hmm.. Must think about that!

Maria: Cold hearted, skeptical me … I still teared up when she learned about the significance of him gifting his ring to her. It made me wonder if we were going to go back and find him dead. Then I reminded myself that this isn’t Game of Thrones, and that I’m sure he was still alive! I find small symbolic items like that so powerful, and it’s a big part of what I love about fantasy novels.
Kathy: Sucker! Just kidding. My favorite part is when she tells Skye she’s going to beat Po’s reason for giving her the ring out of him.  Yes! Loved that!

Maria: Back on the Female Mentoring kick – I’m so pleased with the way Katsa has taken on her role as a leader and mentor for Bitterblue AND the other young women she encounters. This is a major plus for me as I read this with my newly rediscovered feminist glasses.
Kathy: Agreed!! She’s going to send Helda to Bitterblue and she’s going to all the Kingdom’s to teach the girls how to fight! That will also help her understand and appreciate her Grace as a gift, not a curse. She will also feel redeemed for the hurt she caused under Randa’s regime.  That could be another book, or at least an ebook short story! Are you listening Kristin Cashore?

Maria: The Leck resolution – Okay, I was disappointed with this part. It was just SO abrupt. I suspected something was wrong. Then BAM! It was over. I do like the fact that her contrary nature helped save them all (like Meg in Wrinkle in Time), and that it was the desire to protect Po that broke her free from Leck’s spell. So maybe that was the key – the pin – that kept Ashen and Bitterblue free of Leck’s manipulation? Though I can’t imagine that others didn’t also have the same motivation. I need more here, to really feel like this issue was fleshed out. I hope that the new novel gives me more backstory on this, because I think this is one of the few areas that I really found lacking.
Kathy: I wanted to know how he got Po’s family to come to castle. Also, how long does his influence last after he’s spoken.  I expected them to break immediately out of the spell, but it seemed to have many lingering effects. And yes, it was way too quick after such a build up! I think we spend more time in the mountains!

Maria: Then there is Po – safe and mostly sound. Yes, I did pick up very quickly that something was still wrong. Again, I think Cashore sprinkles clues lavishly – but the book is not really made for almost 40 year olds, right? She doesn’t do it heavy handedly, I don’t think, though I’d love to get an actual YA’s perspective on that. Okay – can I just say…. Po is DAREDEVIL! Yes, this is my superhero background kicking in full force again. Just like Daredevil, his blindness kicks into high gear all his other senses and gives him even more power. (Though Daredevil didn't have any superpowers before he lost his sight.) No, it’s not a bad thing. I don’t think there are a ton of heroes that use this plot device, and she does manage it well. I like his transformation as he learns to accept his new awareness, and how he stops fighting it.
Kathy: PO! So happy he isback. On the foreshadowing,  I think once I noticed what Cashore was doing, I really started to pick up on the clues because I was looking for them! The students haven’t once told me they felt it was predictable.  I think it’s a story you would normally read in a rush because it has great action and suspense.  We may have picked up things more keenly because we were taking notes! And, yes, we are a touch older. :)  I wonder how this heightened awareness will play out in Bitterblue.  Is there some sort of good reason that he has lost his sight or is this just a plot device?

Maria: The big questions when you come to the end of a book, though (especially when you know there is a sequel about to hit the bookstores) are about the “loose ends”.
1)      Will we end up with more about Giddon? I thought we’d moved past his parts of Katsa’s tale – but the fact that he was brought up again at the end makes me think that he may still have an impact on her life. Maybe he hasn’t really given up his pursuit of her. That’s sad, though, because it seemed obvious that he believes he can change her.
Kathy: Yes, I noticed that too. Why did Oll make a point to mention Giddon unless he is going to play another role.  They also said he spends more time at his estate and Randa’s looking for him a wife.  Is Bitterblue too young?
2)      What was Leck’s deal? It sounds like we hear some of this in Fire, but I find characters like this fascinating. What exactly makes a person so deeply evil? One of these days I’ll write a backstory tale for some of my favorite fairy tale villains too (like the witch in Rapunzel).
Kathy: I have read Fire and will not speak of it until you read it.  You are going to read it right? I remember loving the romance in that one...I hope some questions are answered in Bitterblue.  Maybe we can look this over again we read it!
Maria: I have Fire on my shelf! Yes, I think we should do a followup discussion once we’ve read Bitterblue and I’ve read Fire.

3)      What is the deal with Bitterblue? Why was she so very important to Leck? I’m hoping we get a lot more of this in the novel that releases in May!
Kathy: I have the ARC of Bitterblue and actually pre-ordered a copy because Cashore said the artwork is amazing. I do wonder what he wanted with her besides what was hinted at.  Does she have some latent superpowers? Not only was she super important to Leck but Katsa and Po are completely taken with her maturity and grace and mentions that she’s not like others.
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Maria: For the record, here’s how I’ve kept track of my ideas as I read this book. The first few sections I used sticky notes. Sometimes I jotted notes on them, and sometimes they just held a spot. For the last section, I didn’t have any with me. So I resorted to the time honored tradition of jotting things down on an old envelope. 
Kathy: I will do more of that for the first book, actually, will Kindle the whole book so will take notes that way.  This time, I actually read the section, then went back and read the section again with pen in hand! I have a few of those moleskin like notebooks everywhere and I just pick them up and start writing as I’m reading. I may purchase some just for Batty.  So, technically, I’ve now read the book 3 times! This is what took me so long with my responses! I read the section twice in the week!!
Maria: So – are we moving on to A World Without Heroes next? This has been great! It’s such a different experience to read a book knowing that someone will be chatting with you about your impressions.
Kathy: A World Without Heroes is our next choice, yes! I haven’t had a chance to pick up the physical book yet and map out the reading.  Just set reminder to do that tomorrow! My ebook doesn’t have a table of contents.  It says it’s about 469 pages though! We may have to stretch this one to five weeks because I MUST start reading for my YHBA committee! 

Maria: Fridays absolutely work for me. I’m always working on comic reviews (and Wednesdays are new comics day, so I try get them done in time for release) and I write a Star Wars post for Thursdays. So Fridays would be great :)

So, my lovely readers (if, indeed, anyone is sharing this journey with Kathy and me)... what do you think? Did you enjoy Graceling? Leave us some thoughts about what you'd like to see us read after A World Without Heroes!


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