From the author's website:
Graceling, my debut novel, is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms, and none moreso than Katsa, who's expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.
I fell in love with this book right away because the premise was so new to me. Gracelings were fascinating to me, especially Katsa and her Grace. (She definitely falls into the Chicks Who Can Kick Our Asses file folder.) Graceling is set in a fictional world filled with evil kings, funny and sweet princes, and, of course, a swoon-worthy guy. He first shows up as a "mysterious stranger," and who among us doesn't love that?
One of my favorite things about this book was watching Katsa's extremely tough exterior start to break down as her relationship with Po (mysteriously stranger no more) begins to unfold. But even as she gives in to love, she does not lose her strength or her self. She never gives up, and I love that about her character.
In addition to a strong heroine and a sweet love story, this book also has a good story at the base of all of that. Filled with intrigue, mystery, and deceptions, it will definitely keep you turning the pages. So, if you love a good fantasy book, definitely add Graceling to your list. And, you might as well add Fire, also by Kristin Cashore, for all the same reasons. They are both great reads.