Review: Graceling, Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away… a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

Katsa lives in a world where some people are gifted, Graced with a special ability. The Gracelings, as they are known, can do amazing and the most different things—like cooking extremely well or breathing under the water—and they can be recognized by their eyes: each one has a different color. Katsa is Graced with killing skills, so don’t expect her to be any ordinary girl. She works for her uncle, the King Randa, even though she doesn’t agree with his orders.

Katsa believes she can do some good with her killing skills, as part of a secret Council, something her uncle can never dream of. She takes off in secret missions trying to help people, and that’s how she runs into a Graceling gifted with Fighting Grace. This encounter, as you can imagine, will change her mind and life.

Graceling is a book about feelings. Cashore took time and effort on describing them in her narrative. The story’s pace is slower than we’re used to, which can make you feel a little bored. While the book caught our attention, it didn’t fully develop a love for the characters and the narrative. The book is about feelings, but it’s difficult to feel something about it. Even the villain doesn’t appear much, and you can’t truly hate him in two brief glances.

Graceling suffers of the same disease of other first books in series: it’s an introduction, not a full developed story. Althought it makes us want the next book, Fire, the story leave us wishing it could be more. Let’s hope Cashore found a perfect set for the follow-up.

Author: Kristin Cashore
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Publication date: October 1, 2008
Pages: 480
Book Depository Amazon Barnes & Noble
3 books and a half

Our favorite quotes on this book are bellow.

“What can be so funny,” Katsa said, “to a prince who’s turned his hair blue?”

“You look like you’ve been in a fight,” he said, “for the first time in your life.”

“You’re in fine temper,” Raffin said.

“Your hair is blue,” Katsa snapped back.

A monster that refused, sometimes, to behave like a monster. When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?

She had truted him. She had trusted him, and she should not have. He had misrepresented himself, misrepresented his Grace. And that was the same as if he’d lied.

She wanted to cause him pain for taking a place in her heart that she wouldn’t have given him if she’d known the truth.

“I love you,” he said. “You’re more dear to my heart than I ever knew anyone could be. And I’ve made you cry; and there I’ll stop.”

She cried like a person whose heart is broken and wondered how, when two people loved each other, there could be such a broken heart.

She couldn’t have him, and there was no mistaking it. She could never be his wife. She could not steal herself back from Randa only to give herself away again—belong to another person, be answerable to another person, build her very being around another person, build her very being around another person. No matter how she loved him.

“I never should have brought you here.”

“You didn’t bring me here. We came together.”

“She has a knife, and she’s willing to use it.”

“Good for her.”

“Wonderful,” Po said. “It’s quite boring really, the way you beat me to death with your hands and feet, Katsa. It’ll be refreshing to have you coming at me with a knife.”

“Was he Graced?”

“No. He wasn’t Graced like you. But he was mad like you.”

In the end, (…) should have stuck to his lies. For it was the truth he almost told that killed him.


  1. Vivien says:

    I’m just a huge fantasy fan. Especially the world’s that Cashore creates. That’s what I love most. Now before you start the rest of the series, do note that they are companion novels. They won’t be true ‘sequels’. I really enjoyed Graceling. However, I absolutely love Fire more 😀 Cannot wait for Bitterblue.



    I’ve already put both Fire and Bitterblue on my wishlist, but haven’t got a chance to buy Fire yet…


    Laila Campos

    hi vivien:) is Bitterblue part of this “series”? coz ive read this one and Fire (w/c i also love more!), and if so is it out already? tnx.


  2. haven’t read this author –
    i’m with you in wanting characters developed well in order to resonate with me as i follow their story. i’d probably lay this one aside without finishing it. too many good books on my TBR stack that need my time 😉
    thx for the helpful review..
    faith hope & cherrytea recently posted..Teacup Tuesday 4/17



    The ending is heartbroken, but the story wasn’t too bad that would make us give up on reading. There was just… Something missing :)


  3. Mary Preston says:

    Some stories are best as stand alones – just give it to me in one fabulous compact, well paced hit.


  4. I am pretty much new to know the books of Cashore and I’m not really a huge fan of fantasy. Maybe my sister would want to try it. Good review though. Very honest. :)
    Elexandra Harris recently posted..From Runway to Real Look: How to Wear Bright Makeup


  5. laila campos says:

    i love this book…i randomly pick this one at my local bookstore. i love a fantasy story and you said this is a book about feelings maybe so but Katsa is such a strong and a vulnerable heroine at the same time and I always love to be engaged with characters like her and her journey. i don’t mind if this is only a stand alone book, the ending was kind of heartbreaking. I like that it isn’t always about the love story but how the characters are driven. and love Po! i also agree that there are still some unanswered aspects in the story.


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