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  • kjoannerixon


I think I liked GRACELING more re-reading it a decade later. I liked it the first time I read it, but I also thought Katsa was a stupid, impulsive jock and a Strong Female Character in an annoying way--always arrogant, always right. With the benefit of a certain amount of years under my belt, I see Katsa as having more flaws, but I'm also able to forgive her for those flaws.

Katsa is thoughtless about her own personal safety, and the safety of others. She pushes people to do dangerous things. She pushes her horses to the point of permanent damage. She hurts people, too, sometimes on purpose and sometimes accidentally, or at least without thinking it through first. Her Grace is killing, or at least that's her understanding of it at first, so there's a feeling that her violence isn't quite her fault. But her growing understanding of her Grace means that in hindsight her violence is, actually, hers to own and atone for.

It turns out, on re-read, that Katsa isn't a stupid jock, she's just a battered child who lives on a hair trigger and doesn't understand her own feelings half the time. On top of that, she can't sit still. She can't stay in one place--and not just in one chair, but like, she can't stay in the same country for long. She's on the move, always, restless, unattached from even the people she loves the most. Loving Katsa is like loving a moving train.

See, not simplistic at all, actually. Not a flawless Strong Female Character, although she is strong, and violent, and a feminist character. She has deep flaws, and it turns out this is what I love about Cashore's writing. The Graceling Realm books are, broadly, about the marks abuse leaves on a person, physical violence but mainly psychological. Katsa is only the first entrance into the story, because violence is the simplest and easiest to process part of abuse. But the story goes on and it gets more and more complex as it goes.



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