Yes, I know, that’s a really tenuous link to the letter ‘R’ but I had to get this series in somewhere!
The Graceling Realm is a trilogy by Kristin Cashore consisting of the books Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue. They don’t follow on from each other but rather tell different stories in the same realm across a time span of a few years with a few characters crossing between books. (I reviewed Fire a while back.)
It is the Graceling Realm itself I am mostly in love with – the characters are all rich and the friendships and romances are really good, the storylines are all strong and powerful but the world. Oh, that world is just stunning.
Vast across the Seven Kingdoms, there are all sorts of trade alliances and politics going on and all sorts of terrains from glorious ocean kingdoms and cities to mountains and everything in between, the Graceling Realm has such variety that each story has something new to offer as well as familiarity.
I love the concept of the Gracelings themselves – humans born with unusual but powerful gifts, marked out by their eyes being different colours. These gifts can be anything from remembering every word ever read to being able to play any musical instrument perfectly to being able to read minds or even control the minds of others – and those gifts can be used for great good or evil. It is mostly these that create the centre storylines for the stories and the way each Graceling character handles their gift and the sides they choose to wield them for make each book an exciting ride.
Love is an important theme through the novels – how it can be used against people and manipulated, how it can cloud judgement, make people reckless, the happiness, the joy, the loyalty, the fear, love between friends, lovers, the love shared by children and parents – it’s all there and, if you are anything like me, results in tissues being required.
A bold mix of emotion and action and adventure, the Graceling Realm series is one of my favourites. They have gorgeous covers, too.