In Katsa’s world, some people are born with a grace: a surpassing talent that sets them apart from normal people. As a young child, Katsa’s grace made itself known when she accidentally killed a grown man. She became a feared and unnatural person: a girl with a killing grace. Now, at the age of sixteen, she can kill a group of adult soldiers without even thinking. Her uncle, the King, uses his graceling niece to instill fear and quell dissent; for him, Katsa has killed and tortured many men who defied the King, but she loathes the cruelty. Disgusted by the way she must use her grace, she secretly begins to rescue and defend innocent people. When she sets out to rescue an elderly man who has been kidnapped by a neighboring King, she meets a graced fighter like herself who both offers a new perspective on her abilities and gives her the first even fight of her life.
Graceling is an excellent story. Katsa has a temper and an unsurpassed skill, but she is also committed to justice and kindness. The way in which Katsa is used by the King is interesting, as is the way she manages to undermine his power. The story has a little bit of everything: romance, fantasy, political intrigue and adventure. Once you're done Graceling, check out the companion book Fire.