Ok so a Grace is basically a superpower, and some of them are ballstothewall useless, like being exceedingly good at darts, but Katsa’s Grace is in Ass-Kicking. She can literally kick all the asses. And does so, at the behest of her king who is sort of (himself) an ass.
But then secretly she also kicks ass in the name of good deeds, and one night while she’s off kicking ass and rescuing a kidnapped oldster (who kidnaps old people? New low, guys) she meets another Graceling Graced in fighting and with one thing and another she is like No thanks, I will break no more fingers for you to the king and she and the Graceling Po are off to figure out WHO KIDNAPS OLD PEOPLE!??! Oh yes also, the oldster is Po’s grandfather. *motivation for quest*
And, ok, I love that Katsa is the better fighter, and that Po has zero problem with this and is like, I will let you protect my skins against hoards of strong men, because that is sensible. Sensibleness is highly underappreciated, particularly in YA.
And Katsa is Seriously Bad Ass. She kills a fucking mountain lion with her hands (and a small knife). At one point she is RUNNING through a MOUNTAIN PASS in WINTER with a TEN-YEAR-OLD CHILD strapped to her back wearing SNOWSHOES and it is RIDICULOUS, but by this point her excessive strength and total powerhouseness has been so ingrained in you that you are like, Sweet.
And I wasn’t going to like this at first. It was just too Here is some Action™ and here is alotta backstory and now we are going on a Quest. I was on the fence for MOST OF THE BOOK, but Tests Of Endurance That Involve Very Much Cold seem to get me (see also, The Left Hand of Darkness, but not The White Darkness because that book had me at hello).
Also, while the cover is all badassery, the inside flap is like ROMANCE AND SWOONS and while yes ok fine she and Po hook up, it is not like your usual all-consuming hook up because Katsa is like, I do not want to marry you and have your babies as I would like to continue being badass.
My loneliest beef is that the aforementioned ten-year-old, Bitterblue, sounds like an adult. Not even a mature ten-year-old, but a grown-ass woman.
I hear that Fire is a ‘companion book’? What do these words even mean? I will totally read it, because I enjoyed this with a muchness.