Katsa is the niece of King Randa of the Middluns. She is also graced with the ability to kill. She works day after day to control her grace, rather than allowing it to control her, but her uncle is all too eager to use her abilities to suit his nefarious purposes. Katsa allows herself to be used, but she also uses her position with her uncle to found a council that works to help the oppressed in all of the seven kingdoms. When the father of a nearby king is kidnapped, Katsa and her council plot to recapture him. Their investigation into who orchestrated the kidnapping and why leads to more questions than answers, and prompts the discovery of a treachery more heinous than Katsa could possibly have imagined.
The story starts slow, but as the readers begin to make discoveries along with Katsa, the pace begins to quicken. Katsa's connection to Po, another royal graced with incredible abilities, keeps the story strong. The evil they fight against is truly appalling, and the desperation with which Katsa must fight made me root for her with all my might. This was an excellent piece of storytelling, and I can't wait to read more of Cashore's work.