is a book I want to call ADORABLE but not in a cutesy way, it's more like . . . sweet, maybe. Katsa is a strong -- flawed, irritating at times, but ultimately sympathetic -- heroine, Po is engaging and a good balance for Katsa's toughness, and I love the world that Kristin Cashore built around her characters; the whole Grace thing is great, and I thought it was interesting that Gracelings have to figure out the particulars of how they're gifted, instead of the Graces being passed down or made obvious by eye color or something.
The romance is predictable but that didn't stop me from cheering it on like I was being paid for it. I thought it was sweet and refreshing.
Katsa's obsession with not being like ~other women~ and never getting married gets a little old after a while, but I can see what Cashore was trying to do. It's just that it gets heavy-handed at times, as if she didn't trust that the reader would get it without a frying pan attached.
I dug the plot twists and, for the most part, liked the pacing. Some important things happen very quickly, but I liked that, it worked for me. There are a couple of slow spots, like all the time Katsa spends in the mountains with Bitterblue -- Cashore really wants us to like Bitterblue, but she didn't click with me for whatever reason. (Imagine my sadness when I realized the next book is told from her perspective. The sample chapters in the back of Graceling seemed okay, though.)
I loved the secondary characters as much as I loved Katsa and Po, and I miss them all already. I'll definitely be picking up the sequel.
Irrelevant to the book itself: the Kindle version of this book has a handful of formatting errors and typos. They got annoying after a while.