Paperback | August 24, 2009

byKristin Cashore

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Kristin Cashore's best-selling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable yet strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa's is killing. As the king's niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace . . . and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonatedeeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world.Awards: Winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, winner of the SIBA Book Award/YA, Indies Choice Book Award Honor Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 2008 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, 2008 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year,'s Best Books of 2008, 2008 Booklist Editors' Choice, Booklist's 2008 Top Ten First Novels for Youth, 2009 Amelia Bloomer List, BCCB 2009 Blue Ribbon ListDon't miss the sequel Fire , also a New York Times bestseller and ALA Best Book for Young Adults, winner of the 2010 Cybil for YA Fantasy/Sci Fi and the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award.

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From the Publisher

Kristin Cashore's best-selling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable yet strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa's is killing. As the king's niece, she is forced to use her ...

KRISTIN CASHORE is a freelance educational writer who writes content for textbooks and teacher editions. She has written book reviews for The Horn Book Guide, and she has had articles published in The Looking Glass: An Online Children's Literature Journal and Children's Literature in Education . Kristin received her master's degree i...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 8.17 × 5.54 × 0.89 inPublished:August 24, 2009Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0547258305

ISBN - 13:9780547258300

Appropriate for ages: 14


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible! I absolutely love Graceling, and the whole series! This is such a refreshing take on ya fantasy, all the characters are very well written and strong, even the antagonists. I really like the idea of graces, it just adds another mysterious element to the entire story. Plus is doesn't hurt that the main characters are people of colour, about time fantasy stories include them.
Date published: 2016-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourite re-reads! There's just something about the story that captivates you from the start - and has you reminiscing once it's over. One that stands out, and begs to be read again once it's on your shelf.
Date published: 2016-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Great story. Captivating. Love it.
Date published: 2016-02-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Overrated, but still good This story has an interesting, although not entirely new, concept behind it: power is a blessing and a curse, and those born with it are feared and used. But just because this concept isn’t original, that doesn’t mean it can’t be the root of a great story, and it never really gets old. One really unique thing about Graceling in particular is that you never know what kind of power a Graceling will have; there seems to be a different gift for every one of them, and the extent of their abilities is anyone’s guess. Does that ratchet up the suspense or what? Really, it could have been used far more in this story. The fantasy world is effectively crafted (with a very helpful map), but I feel (as I often do) that there could have been more world-building in this story. More world-building and less emphasis on how completely awesome and invincible Katsa is. I’m tempted to use the term “Mary Sue,” but honestly, I’m not sure what that means anymore. I’m not sure anyone else does, either. What I do know is that Katsa is impossible to kill. She’s an expert fighter. She’s incredibly strong. Sure, she’s a Graceling and she’s supposed to be powerful, but the fact that she is so much more powerful than everyone else is, quite frankly, very annoying. Many authors want to write the kind of superhero character that they wish they could be, but what they sometimes don’t realize is that those characters are less compelling to readers. I might have forgiven Katsa’s absolute perfection if she were a nicer person. Instead, she gets away with being a snarky biatch. She also has the admiration of many people, plus the romantic interest of two men (of course.) Po, one of those men, is likeable, but he’s a bit too perfect and has feelings for Katsa for no discernable reason. He could have used a bit more backstory and his purpose could have been brought to the forefront of the story (and his personality) way more. I suppose I sound like I disliked Graceling, but I did like it. It was an adventure story filled with danger and nail-biting suspense. I do remember thinking that the story was slow for a long while, so be prepared for that if you plan to read Graceling. I guess aside from characterization issues, the thing that bothers me most about this book is unrealized potential. There could have been higher stakes, more political intrigue, more nail-biters early on, and, as I said earlier, more general world-building. Overrated? I think so. A satisfyingly action-packed fantasy? Once again, I think so.
Date published: 2016-01-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Intriging and facinating story
Date published: 2015-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling This book was spectacular. It was action-packed, funny, and more. It kept me turning pages and getting more and more spellbound!
Date published: 2015-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful A modern story for a very progressive time. Brilliantly written though I could have wished for more romance between the two main characters
Date published: 2014-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! A friend of mine introduced me to this series, and I'm so glad she did!!! I think it has to be one of the best series I have ever read! The world that Cashore created is so intricate, and as you read the next to books you will see how each kingdom intertwines. I could not put it down!! Now that I've finished this series, I'm finding it difficult to find another to read after that can even compare!
Date published: 2014-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful All three companion books (Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue) by Kristin Cashore are amazing. I will read most any genre as long as the book is well written. This book, all Cashore's books, made me laugh and cry. I hope there will be more to come from this wonderful author.
Date published: 2014-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I am a sucker for Young Adult Fantasy. The world building was well done and I am always a fan of a female protaganist who can protect herself in the mist of danger! I would re-read this book.
Date published: 2014-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful One of the best young adult fantasy novels that I have read in a long time. I actually first read this a few years ago out of the my local library and loved it so much that I have since bought my own copy and re-read it several times.
Date published: 2014-02-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful High spirited character, with an ability that no one should have, especially a young girl. Great story line and perfectly wonderful characters to love and loathe!
Date published: 2014-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful This was a good read, it took me a chapter or two to get into it but loved the story. The imperfect heroine is very well written. It gives a nice fresh theme touching on so many genres, a story and can be enjoyed by adults as well as teens.
Date published: 2014-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This book was amazing, so fast-paced and a page-turner. I literally could not put it down. I love the world created by Kristin Cashore and I found her characters had depth. She had a strong heroine who you really rooted for. Of course, I was also a huge fan of the love triangle.
Date published: 2014-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This book is amazing, once I started reading I couldn't put it back down. The author does a really good job at creating characters, and keeping the plot interesting!
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling: Trilogy Book 1 I adored the characters in this story. Their struggles were unique; something I had not read before. I am looking forward to see what happens to the next.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Graceling: Trilogy Book 1 This book had a great story line, but I felt the ending was a little too cliche "Battle against evil, wins against all odds and everyone lives happily ever after." I was actually disappointed in the ending because the story had too much potential to be ended so abruptly. I usually look forward to reading books again in the future, but this is one I wouldn't read again.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Graceling: Trilogy Book 1 I liked the original concept of the book. Most characters of the book are great. However, I just don't find Katsa a likeable character, which made it difficult for me to enjoy the book.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling: Trilogy Book 1 This book is incredible, written strongly and with depth and insight into the characters that you will love for a lifetime. This story follows Katsa, a girl who in a brief moment, would become the most feared fighter... until she would no longer bend to those who would use her grace as a tool. The graced are those with extraordinary abilities that others could never hope to match, with one eye blue and the other green, a physical mark of her grace, she is graced with a killers ability. With her friends guiding her along the way however she meets a strange man with a fighting grace, who is more than he seems. Traveling across the kingdom together to search for those who would hurt this man, they discover a lot more than they bargained for, not only with another's grace.... but between themselves as well. A brilliant story with a hint of romance, a lot if adventure and a dash of mystery. I guarantee you won't be able to put it down!
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This was a unique story that draws you right in. The characters are fascinating and I can't wait for more.
Date published: 2013-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite I love this book, One of my all time favourite Full of action and romance I wasn't able to put this book down! Its a one of a kind story
Date published: 2013-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling Very engaging story and its summary does not do it justice. Packed with action, twisting hearts, adventure and survival to save a kingdom that never knew it was in need of saving. A recommended read to anyone who wants to see a world changing its views and characters that constantly improve.
Date published: 2013-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from :D Very good :) read this at school and haven't been able to forget it eva sincee very goodd
Date published: 2013-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Graceling Smooth pace, great characters, interesting storyline. hope to read more of the adventures of Po and Katsa.
Date published: 2013-05-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Badass I loved this novel. Firstly because Katsa, the main character, is a Total Badass: she's tough, smart, brave, and an assassin with an ultra awesome Grace. Secondly because the writing is great and the plot and fantasy elements are wholly original and entertaining. If you're looking for a kick-ass novel with a strong lead and lots of adventure-action, read this!
Date published: 2013-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Grace ling I started reading this with Kira but she dropped off and I kept going. Very enjoyable.
Date published: 2013-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing Read! Graceling was such a great book! It had adventure, action and romance. It was descriptive and interesting, I couldn't put it down! I definitely recommend this book :)
Date published: 2013-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mesmerizing and unforgeable. Possibly one of the best book that I have ever read. This book had the tension and struggle I was looking for. The stuggle with either Katsa's own inner demon or with the wickedness from the ouside world, Cashore seems to be able to capture all of its magic with well trained hands and deliver. Katsa is "Graced." A Graceling is a person who is gifted in a certain skill and Katsa has probably one of the greatest Grace of it all. The Grace to kill. This book just flew by. I could not stop myself as the story deepens and Katsa is faced with many decisions and challanges. With the mysterious Po, Katsa is taken on this journey where her gifted Grace may not be able to save her. This magical book took me on a journey very much like Katsa's; decisions, decisions. It's 4am and there is school tomorrow. But this book is not letting me go off to bed. To read or not to read? Purely graceful.
Date published: 2012-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling I would have much preferred to read Fire first but then again this book was the reason I bought the second and third novels Can't wait for another.
Date published: 2012-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing high fantasy Where has this book been all my life? Ok maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit. I've had plenty of excellent high fantasy in my life. There's just something about high fantasy that gets me every time. But that doesn't diminsh how real and how deep my love for this book is. Kristin Cashore has created an amazing world within the pages of Graceling. It was so detailed! and she combined just enough elements from the real world to make it the believable. It never felt over the top or ridiculous. This is the type of world building I can only hope to aspire to one day if I ever get my butt in gear and write my fantasy novel. The world of the Seven Kingdoms come alive in my head when I was reading. And then there's Katsa. She's like the fantasy version of Katniss. Or maybe Katniss is the dystopian version of Katsa? Either way she's a kick ass heroine. She's strong, brave, and independent. She stands up for herself! I may have cheered out loud a few times, I was so proud of her. I also really liked her relationship with Po. It really felt like they were equal partners, which is definitely something you don't see enough of in YA novels. There isn't much more to add. This book is straight up amazing. Final recommendation: If you like fantasy or books with strong female characters this is a must read. Seriously, stop reading my blog and go check it out (and then come read my blog again). This and other reviews at Hooked on Books (
Date published: 2012-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review from Esther's Ever After Fantasy books were my first love when it came to reading, and I grew up on stories bursting with mythology, knights, and princesses (my favourites were those that had characters who could be both a knight AND a princess). Nothing gets my heart pounding and the pages turning like a magical, adventurous fantasy novel! I first heard of Graceling immediately after reading The Hunger Games a few years ago - I kept getting recommendations for it, but for whatever reason I didn't pick it up until recently. Waiting to read this book until now was one of the biggest mistakes in my reading history! I'm convinced that Kristin Cashore is a genius and this book is proof of that. Reasons to Read: 1.A richly developed fantasy world: This is a must for good fantasy books; I need to buy into the magical world and the best ones have a well-established world with its own rules and norms, but with enough similarities that we can relate to them. Plus, I like books that include MAPS of the fantasy worlds. That's pretty legit for me. And the names of places, things and people should be vaguely familiar but not so overdone that they come off as silly and fake. Graceling easily avoids any and all of these issues and stands as one of a few YA fantasy books that works so well! 2.Familiar problems & issues: I don't think it's much of a secret that Graceling delves into some questions regarding the role of women within a society and the obstacles in their way as equal members of society. What may be surprising, however, is how WELL Kristin deals with this and successfully weaves it into the story. I wouldn't call it subtle, but it is oh-so poignant. Katsa is a bit of an anomoly in her world, where women are often mistreated and lack the means to protect themselves; but as she slowly begins to recognize how problematic this is and ultimately questions if she can do anything about it. It's striking, and resonates so well because of how familiar it is to us. 3.Katsa & Po's friendship: I love Katsa, and I love Po! Even separately, they were fantastic characters that I found amusing and amiable. But it's the way that they played off each other and slowly grew closer together that truly sold me on them as characters and their role in the story. Here's a couple you can't help but root for the whole way through; and most of all, I loved seeing a respectful male lead who wants to encourage the heroine and do everything he can to help her in the way she needs and respect her decisions. So, I've now joined the ranks of Graceling/Kristin Cashore fans. I'm KICKING myself for waiting this long to have read it, and I've moved on to Fire already :) Graceling is a thought-provoking and addictive read, one that will leaving you craving more. I could honestly say so much more about this one, but I'm going to save it for a spoiler-filled review, coming soon :) Perfect read for anyone looking for a heartbreaking, emotionally touching, thought provoking read. This one has a well-deserved new space on my favourites shelf; and I can't wait to finish off Fire and then get started on Bitterblue (as soon as I manage to get my hands on a copy)! Thoughts on the audio: A few people had told me that I must listen to Graceling on audio because it was good- and they were right (again. Clearly I have awesome people recommending books to me). This would actually be a perfect book to introduce a new listener to audiobooks because it's Full Cast, although you'll also be spoiled by it for other books. Full Cast is fantastic because it's such a great quality; there are multiple narrators, all of whom are excellent. Plus there's a little bit of background music at times that helps create a good atmosphere for listening to the story. Hands down, the best, most addictive audio book I've ever listened to. WELL worth the cost of buying it! If you're new to audiobooks, or just haven't given this one a try yet then I HIGHLY recommend that you pick it up. Like now.
Date published: 2012-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from :D This is absolutely without a doubt my most favourite book of all time! It's the one book I don't mind reading over and over again. I love Kristin Cashore! She created a totally unique and brand new world where Katsa lives... and don't even get me started on Katsa! I love main characters who are all about girl power! Katsa takes this far beyond any other character I have read about (even Katniss!). My sister (who is also a book fanatic) and I always play a game where we choose one character from any book that we would love to live their story... and my choice is always Katsa. She is my hero!
Date published: 2012-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply amazing Just about one of the best books ever. It is captivating and interesting and it has a unique story line that pulls you along. I have read it multiple times now, and I will read it again and again! I simple can't wait for bitter blue!
Date published: 2012-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply brilliant Simply written but has a deep story that leaves one feeling a new sense of empowerment. The story pulls you in right away and doesn't let you go until it is over. This is one that I have read over a few times and will read again many more.
Date published: 2011-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Makes you hungry for more! A friend raved about this book so i thought i'd give it a try. I loved the Hunger games and this was probably a million times better! This book just gets you transfixed from the very beginning and you won't want to put it down. If you liked the hunger games then i'm almost positive you won't be sorry for reading Graceling! Graceling is extremely well written and you will fall in love with the characters instantly!
Date published: 2011-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling I found this book to be everything I expected. It was a page turner and a wonderful read. I highly sugest this book if you liked The Hunger Games serise. I found it competting with being better than The Hunger Games.
Date published: 2011-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from i loved iT I feel inloved with it right away! Katsa is an amazing young teen and Po (OMG) is overly handsome! Loved it!
Date published: 2011-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fiercely Marvelous Graceling is about a seventeen year old girl named Katsa who has the "gift" to kill people. And as the niece of a powerful King, her life is not as fabulous as it should be. Being the source of her uncles power, she was forced to do many horrible things. As she meets Prince Po, who is gifted with combative skills which to a point rival Katsa's own, to Katsa's surprise they become friends and allies. As the story progresses Katsa stumbles on a horrible truth which threatens everything in the world in which they live. This book held many great qualities. Each character was different in their own way and each had something great to offer to the story. The romance between the two characters jumps at you, making you feel what they feel, frustration, glee, woe, and the fervor that their heartwarming relationship brings about. At the same time the fighting and fierceness of each character pulls you along, making you feel their same determination, hope and strength that they foster. The turn of events that the book takes grabs your heart and stays with you, wishing that there was another based on the same characters to follow, sadly this is not the case. However still a great novel!
Date published: 2011-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was a pretty good book. This was a pretty good book. The Majority of the book is travelling in the forest. Pretty much 90% of it is. I could picture the entire story as I read. Good outcome of events. I have never read a book like this and I really enjoyed it. The special abilities because of the change of the colour of their eyes was cool. The love in this book was very heartwarming. Loved it!!! I will definitely buy the second book.
Date published: 2010-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great female heroine! Katsa is Graced with a special ability to kill. As a result, she’s used as a weapon by her King, a role that she does not want or enjoy. Eventually Katsa decides she will no longer be a pawn in a battle she doesn’t agree with, and begins to disobey the King’s orders. Then, on an unsanctioned mission she discovers a mysterious stranger in the night, and worries that by leaving him alive, she’s left herself in danger. But when this stranger shows up in her life again, they embark on a perilous mission in an effort to stop the greatest evil the 7 kingdoms have seen yet. Filled with interesting and original characters, and based on a very unique concept, Graceling is the first book in what looks to be an exciting fantasy series. Katsa is a strong heroine who struggles with her anger, but learns over the course of the novel to not let it form her decisions. She’s also strong in the literal sense. Her Grace allows her to kick some major butt, yet she always tries to avoid harming others unjustly. Romance takes a back seat to plot, which is a refreshing change in the YA fantasy genre. There’s definitely some romance in Graceling, but none of the typical teen angst and endless swooning. One of the things I loved most about Graceling is that it was never predictable. Each time I thought I knew what was going to happen next, something completely different occurred. And while the story felt complete at the end of this novel, the author has set up the next volume beautifully – I’m not upset because I was left with a cliffhanger, and yet I can’t wait to read more. I absolutely loved Graceling! The story sucked me right in, and I want to spend more time with all these characters. I’m very much looking forward to reading Fire, the next installment in the series.
Date published: 2010-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling by Kristin Cashore Blog for Book Reviews
Date published: 2010-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read I must say, It wasnt a book that I was hooked right from the beggining. The first few chapters had me wondering if I really wanted to continue reading it.. but once I hit chapter three or so it was a wonderful book. A bit too dragged out in some places, and the ending wasnt as dramatic as i'd hoped, but it was all together a worth wild read. I loved Prince Poe, though his name did give me a good laugh, and all the other characters were great too!
Date published: 2010-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning A remarkable story of truth, discovery and courage. It is -so- good to see a book out there not about vampires and werewolves (boring!). I recommend it highly to book lovers. The adventures and detail to Graceling are worth reading.
Date published: 2010-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from best read of a long time! This book was fantastic. I couldn't put it down. Something completely different from the usual young adult books. Definitely a must read!
Date published: 2010-06-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not great I bought this book because of the amazing reviews that it got. I was by no means amazed by it. It was good but I wold not put it up there with the greats by any means. The story was original, but the end just killed it for me. I was expecting more. I personally would not buy Fire (her next installment) unless I was desperat to read something.
Date published: 2010-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another Good YA Read While there are some definite similarities (at least between the main characters) to the Hunger Games series, I enjoyed Graceling. It was a different story, with some very original ideas and my favourite: a strong female hero. Full of action and lovable characters, it was hard to put down! Recommend for YA fans!
Date published: 2010-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Graceling Kristin Cashore's novel, "Graceling", was a book I bought only hours after first hearing about it; an action I am very glad I took. Set in an imaginary world where certain individuals have special talents, ranging from climbing trees to sword fighting, the story was immensely intersting from beginning to end. I found Katsa, the main character, to be extremely likeable and the relationships she has and develops with others fun to witness. The plot itself was smoothly written, focusing on details when important and fast forwarding when not. Cashore's portrayal of the characters' reactions to situations in the book were never unbelievable, and the world it is all set in felt like it could actually exist. Overall, "Graceling" was an awesome book and I will be buying the second one very soon.
Date published: 2010-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Read I picked up Graceling while I was shopping for someone else and thought that this sounded like something I could really be into. Graceling follows the story of a young woman, Katsa who is blessed, or cursed, depending on your perspective, with the grace for killing. She is capable and a great female heroine. I really enjoyed the environment created for the characters in this story, the creative idea of graces and the unexpected and ruthless antagonist. The only reason this book gets four stars and not five is due to my disappointment in the romance. The main male and female characters seem obviously bound to wind up in a relationship from their first encounter. However, the reason for their budding romance is never explained beyond physical attraction, and to me; that's really not enough. I found myself disappointed with the ultimate outcome of the characters relationship in the end as Katsa refuses to commit emotionally to Po even after everything they'd been through. It was as if she hadn't PROGRESSED. That being said, I will still check out the sequel to this book even though it promises an all new batch of characters, and hope for a trilogy that continues the story of Katsa and Po.
Date published: 2010-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Written I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I thought it had a good story line, even though the climax of it all was very short lived. The characters and the idea of Gracelings was a neat idea for this. I really couldn't put this book down. I look forward to reading "Fire," the companion to "Graceling."
Date published: 2009-12-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Poorly excuted This book is swimming with potential but I am sad to say doesn't live up to expectations. The author isn't able to end a chapter very well in the sense that I do not really feel the barn burning desire to read the next one. It is easy to put down and not think about. The climax comes with 70 pages left in the book but then quickly (and I mean half way through the next chapter) comes to an abrupt conclusion; thus leaving 50 pages of the author prattling on about things that could and should have been left for perhaps a sequel. This book was pretty boring overall and didn't have as much character development as one likes to see in these types of books. Sometimes it is very focused on the details but never the details you care about. Not worth your money.
Date published: 2009-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One Gifted Grace... When I saw one of my friends reading this book, I searched it up and saw how many people enjoyed it, so I decided to give it try...Which is one of the best choices I have made about a book! Honestly, this is my first time reading a book which has to do with castles and princesses and olden time romance. I did read half of Nobody's Princess, but it had no romance in it, and was very dull. Graceling has so much adventure and romance put all together in one book. And I love the idea for the Graced people to have one diffrent eye color than the other. I love the charcters, especially Po and Katsa I think they make a beautiful couple. This book has that type of romance that makes your heart warm up and also makes you smile. In conclusion this book was just beautiful! Definetly recommend it!
Date published: 2009-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing, Amazing, Amazing! In Graceling we meet Katsa, a Graceling who is forced to do her kings dirty work. In the beginning of the novel she is without humanity and it takes meeting Po to have her realize her potential in life and realize that she has many choices that she can make. Mix all of this in with adventure, action romance and you have a book that you will read well into the night. I couldn't put it down and I'm sure you will not be disappointed either!
Date published: 2009-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Novel Hovel Says, "Wow, that's all I can say!" All I can say is WOW! I loved this book. I found it really unique, like nothing I had read before. Special land, interesting people, almost historical in feel though with different kingdoms and prince and princesses. There is just so much adventure in this book and the way Kristin Cashore describes it made me feel like I was there. I would love to have a graced ability. Maybe not to kill, but some of the powers that these people have are amazing. I can't believe the imagination that Kristin Cashore has. Not to mention the lands in and of themselves like castles on mountains so high you need to climb ropes to get to them. Best of all about this book is the romance. You see this coming from the beginning, but it is really a unique romance because they are both so independent. You really can't ask for more out of a book: mystery, action and romance, not to mention a kickass heroine. Katsa the protagonist is definitely the strongest woman I have ever read about... not just because of her grace. But she is still a woman because she is still vulnerable and cares for her friends, you'll notice she still manages to cry quite a bit. Overall, this book was fantastic! It actually kind flew past my radar when I first heard about it, but then I saw that Kristin Cashores next book Fire was coming out in October I decided I needed to read this before that one came out. Man was I happy I did. Pick up a copy of this book before Fire comes out because you can be sure you are going to want to read that one as well! Katsa is a Graceling, one of a rare people in her land graced with special abilities and unique skills. Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was a young girl. Since the King, her uncle discovered this skill he has employed her as his thug. She is forced to go about the land as a bully for the king. Rebelling against this forced servitude Katsa creates the council which acts against wrong doings in the land. On one trip to rescue a kidnapped old man, Katsa runs into Po another graced fighter. Po is searching for his grandfather and the two of them eventually set out to find the truth behind his kidnapping. She never expects the secrets that she discovers.
Date published: 2009-09-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing!! Though this book had a lot of potential, I was left very disappointed with the quick and uncompelling ending. I love a happy ending, but found this book to rush through it's conclusion and feel it was a waste, when it could so easily have been better!
Date published: 2009-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I hate to write about things that have been already said... I normally don't bother writing reviews about books that have a million reviews already, especially when I have nothing new to add...but this is going to be one of the few exceptions, because I can NOT not say something great about Graceling. - The story starts off very action packed and doesn't waste time building up to the good'll be hooked from the very first chapter. - Good characters make for a good book...and Graceling's characters were phenomenal! I normally don't like over powering female leads (they often come off as trying much too hard), but Katsa is easy to relate to, likable and I actually understand her charm (she attracts people to her for a good reason, not just because the author wants her to be some kind of perfect twit). I won't say much about the other characters, but I'll say there was not one character I thought did not belong in the novel, every character that appears was necessary for the story to be as great as it was. - Although the basis of the story was not all that original (I found myself reminiscent of the Study series by Maria V. Snyder), I found Cashore still manages to surprise with enough plot twists that make the story unpredictable and worth the 8-9 hours it took to read. - Graceling has plain old good writing! I've read many failed attempts at boring "on the run from the law" type stories before, and I'll tell you that it's not easy to make days of "hiding out in the bushes" sound interesting (Even JK Rowling had me yawning at times in Deathly Hallows), but Cashore does it with style. At four AM in the morning I decided another 4 hours was reading was worth finding out what happens. Annnnnd this is the first book that I felt real tears falling for since junior high. In summary, there are a million and one reviews out there that will tell you Graceling is fantastic, and I completely agree. Give it a try, and if Katsa, Po or none of the other characters manage to make your favourite characters list...well no comment.
Date published: 2009-06-12

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CHAPTER ONEIN THESE DUNGEONS the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind. One that had so far proven correct, as Oll’s maps tended to do. Katsa ran her hand along the cold walls and counted doors and passageways as she went. Turning when it was time to turn; stopping finally before an opening that should contain a stairway leading down. She crouched and felt forward with her hands. There was a stone step, damp and slippery with moss, and another one below it. This was Oll’s staircase, then. She only hoped that when he and Giddon followed her with their torches, they would see the moss slime, tread carefully, and not waken the dead by clattering headlong down the steps.Katsa slunk down the stairway. One left turn and two right turns. She began to hear voices as she entered a corridor where the darkness flickered orange with the light of a torch set in the wall. Across from the torch was another corridor where, according to Oll, anywhere from two to ten guards should be standing watch before a certain cell at the passageway’s end.These guards were Katsa’s mission. It was for them that she had been sent first.Katsa crept toward the light and the sound of laughter. She could stop and listen, to get a better sense of how many she would face, but there was no time. She pulled her hood down low and swung around the corner.She almost tripped over her first four victims, who were sitting on the floor across from each other, their backs against the wall, legs splayed, the air stinking with whatever strong drink they’d brought down here to pass the time of their watch. Katsa kicked and struck at temples and necks, and the four men lay slumped together on the floor before amazement had even registered in their eyes.There was only one more guard, sitting before the cell bars at the end of the corridor. He scrambled to his feet and slid his sword from its sheath. Katsa walked toward him, certain that the torch at her back hid her face, and particularly her eyes, from his sight. She measured his size, the way he moved, the steadiness of the arm that held the sword toward her."Stop there. It’s clear enough what you are." His voice was even. He was brave, this one. He cut the air with his sword, in warning. "You don’t frighten me."He lunged toward her. She ducked under his blade and whirled her foot out, clipping his temple. He dropped to the ground.She stepped over him and ran to the bars, squinting into the darkness of the cell. A shape huddled against the back wall, a person too tired or too cold to care about the fighting going on. Arms wrapped around legs, and head tucked between knees. He was shivering—she could hear his breath. She shifted, and the light glanced over his crouched form. His hair was white and cut close to his head. She saw the glimmer of gold in his ear. Oll’s maps had served them well, for this man was a Lienid. He was the one they were looking for.She pulled on the door latch. Locked. Well, that was no surprise, and it wasn’t her problem. She whistled once, low, like an owl. She stretched the brave guard flat on his back and dropped one of her pills into his mouth. She ran up the corridor, turned the four unfortunates on their backs beside each other, and dropped a pill into each mouth. Just as she was beginning to wonder if Oll and Giddon had lost themselves in the dungeons, they appeared around the corner and slipped past her."A quarter hour, no more," she said."A quarter hour, My Lady." Oll’s voice was a rumble. "Go safely."Their torchlight splashed the walls as they approached the cell. The Lienid man moaned and drew his arms in closer. Katsa caught a glimpse of his torn, stained clothing. She heard Giddon’s ring of lock picks clink against itself. She would have liked to have waited to see that they opened the door, but she was needed elsewhere. She tucked her packet of pills into her sleeve and ran.THE CELL GUARDS reported to the dungeon guard, and the dungeon guard reported to the underguard. The underguard reported to the castle guard. The night guard, the king’s guard, the wall guard, and the garden guard also reported to the castle guard. As soon as one guard noticed another’s absence, the alarm would be raised, and if Katsa and her men weren’t far enough away, all would be lost. They would be pursued, it would come to bloodshed; they would see her eyes, and she would be recognized. So she had to get them all, every guard. Oll had guessed there would be twenty. Prince Raffin had made her thirty pills, just in case.Most of the guards gave her no trouble. If she could sneak up on them, or if they were crowded in small groups, they never knew what hit them. The castle guard was a bit more complicated, because five guards defended his office. She swirled through the lot of them, kicking and kneeing and hitting, and the castle guard jumped up from his guardhouse desk, burst through the door, and ran into the fray."I know a Graceling when I see one." He jabbed with his sword, and she rolled out of the way. "Let me see the colors of your eyes, boy. I’ll cut them out. Don’t think I won’t."It gave her some pleasure to knock him on the head with the hilt of her knife. She grabbed his hair, dragged him onto his back, and dropped a pill onto his tongue. They would all say, when they woke to their headaches and their shame, that the culprit had been a Graceling boy, Graced with fighting, acting alone. They would assume she was a boy, because in her plain trousers and hood she looked like one, and because when people were attacked it never occurred to anyone that it might have been a girl. And none of them had caught a glimpse of Oll or Giddon: She had seen to that.No one would think of her. Whatever the Graceling Lady Katsa might be, she was not a criminal who lurked around dark courtyards at midnight, disguised. And besides, she was supposed to be en route east. Her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, had seen her off just that morning, the whole city watching, with Captain Oll and Giddon, Randa’s underlord, escorting her. Only a day of very hard riding in the wrong direction could have brought her south to King Murgon’s court.Katsa ran through the courtyard, past flower beds, fountains, and marble statues of Murgon. It was quite a pleasant courtyard, really, for such an unpleasant king; it smelled of grass and rich soil, and the sweetness of dew-dripped flowers. She raced through Murgon’s apple orchard, a trail of drugged guards stretching out behind her. Drugged, not dead: an important distinction. Oll and Giddon, and most of the rest of the secret Council, had wanted her to kill them. But at the meeting to plan this mission, she’d argued that killing them would gain no time."What if they wake?" Giddon had said.Prince Raffin had been offended. "You doubt my medicine. They won’t wake.""It would be faster to kill them," Giddon had said, his brown eyes insistent. Heads in the dark room had nodded."I can do it in the time allotted," Katsa had said, and when Giddon had started to protest, she’d held up her hand. "Enough. I won’t kill them. If you want them killed, you can send someone else."Oll had smiled and clapped the young lord on the back. "Just think, Lord Giddon, it’ll make it more fun for us. The perfect robbery, past all of Murgon’s guards, and nobody hurt? It’s a good game."The room had erupted with laughter, but Katsa hadn’t even cracked a smile. She wouldn’t kill, not if she didn’t have to. A killing couldn’t be undone, and she’d killed enough. Mostly for her uncle. King Randa thought her useful. When border ruffians were stirring up trouble, why send an army if you could send a single representative? It was much more economical. But she’d killed for the Council, too, when it couldn’t be avoided. This time it could be avoided.At the far end of the orchard she came upon a guard who was old, as old, perhaps, as the Lienid. He stood in a grove of yearling trees, leaning on his sword, his back round and bent. She snuck up behind him and paused. A tremor shook the hands that rested on the hilt of his blade.She didn’t think much of a king who didn’t retire his guards in comfort when they’d gotten too old to hold a sword steady.But if she left him, he would find the others she’d felled and raise the alarm. She struck him once, hard, on the back of the head, and he slumped and let out a puff of air. She caught him and lowered him to the ground, as gently as she could, and then dropped a pill into his mouth. She took a moment to run her fingers along the lump forming on his skull. She hoped his head was strong.She had killed once by accident, a memory she held close to her consciousness. It was how her Grace had announced its nature, a decade ago. She’d been a child, barely eight years old. A man who was some sort of distant cousin had visited the court. She hadn’t liked him—his heavy perfume, the way he leered at the girls who served him, the way his leer followed them around the room, the way he touched them when he thought no one was watching. When he’d started to pay Katsa some attention, she had grown wary. "Such a pretty little one," he’d said. "Graceling eyes can be so very unattractive. But you, lucky girl, look better for it. What is your Grace, my sweetness? Storytelling? Mind reading? I know. You’re a dancer."Katsa hadn’t known what her Grace was. Some Graces took longer than others to surface. But even if she had known, she wouldn’t have cared to discuss it with this cousin. She’d scowled at the man and turned away. But then his hand had slid toward her leg, and her hand had flown out and smashed him in the face. So hard and so fast that she’d pushed the bones of his nose into his brain.Ladies in the court had screamed; one had fainted. When they’d lifted him from the pool of blood on the floor and he’d turned out to be dead, the court had grown silent, backed away. Frightened eyes—not just those of the ladies now, but those of the soldiers, the sworded underlords—all directed at her. It was fine to eat the meals of the king’s chef, who was Graced with cooking, or send their horses to the king’s Graced horse doctor. But a girl Graced with killing? This one was not safe.Copyright © 2008 by Kristin CashoreAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Editorial Reviews

"Cashore strikes a strong balance between adventure, drama and romance--bloody battles and sexual tension co-exist in equal measure--and Katsa's combination of pride in her unique talents and vulnerability in her self-doubts make her a strongly sympathetic character. Readers will identify closely with this young woman, whose coming of age also involves coming to terms with a talent that is both a blessing and a curse."--BookPage, November 2008