Doesn't the plot sound absolutely kick-ass? Yeah, I agree. Unfortunately, the plotline overall failed to meet my expectations.
Let’s start with Katsa, though. Meet the protagonist: young, beautiful, powerful—and controlled by her cruel uncle, the king. The premise is just reaching to tug your heartstrings. And it does suck, the situation she is in, because she finds it difficult to stand up for her own self and be independent. That said, she is also one of the most clichéd characters I have ever read. Cashore tries too hard to make her unique, and in doing so, makes her completely ordinary for YA books these days. A girl who rebels against the norm, by not wanting to get married, not wanting children, hating dresses and makeup and hair, preferring practicality over beauty. Add in to that the fact that her Grace – her natural born talent – gives her the ability to kill, and you’ve got the typical, against-societal-expectations, bright, independent girl, whose main flaw, after the first third of the novel, is that she’s got a bit of a temper and that she doesn’t think she actually is all that.
Mary Sue, much?
Other than Katsa, the characters range from average to awesome. Unfortunately, two of my favorite characters, Oll, Katsa’s mentor, and Raffin, Katsa’s cousin, only show up in the first third of the novel before Katsa goes on a road trip, so to speak. Po is a great character, though, and of course, he’s in pretty much the entire book. He’s kind, but unlike a lot of the boys on YA shelves these days, he’s not a bipolar, mysterious young man whose only attraction is his sulkiness. At least, not for most of the book.
The plot was really just great, and intense. I was almost always at the edge of my seat, wanting to know what’s going to happen next… almost always. There happens to be this one stretch of pages that just goes on and on and on and on about how COLD it happens to be in this extraordinary leg of adventure of Katsa’s and it really just talks about how cold and how tired Katsa is for about twenty pages. Needless to say, it killed the suspense.
I also wasn’t a fan of the climax. After all of that traveling and worrying, the main antagonist is defeated in roughly 0.2 seconds. A little bit of a disappointment, as it sort of just happened, and it barely registered because of the lack of focus on it.
The ending was sad, but not heartbreaking. It was wrapped up cleanly and neatly, with no loose ends, so you can just stop and not read the prequel, or the sequel that is coming out later this year. It didn’t leave me any desire to read any more books by this author, unfortunately. Fortunately, I have the fortune of having friends, who highly recommended the prequel Cashore wrote to this book, Fire, which, believe it or not, I actually loved, especially compared to this bore of a book.