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(Graceling Realm #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  412,152 ratings  ·  23,240 reviews
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.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never ex
Hardcover, 471 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Harcourt
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Ashley I struggled with it until page 70. There is a lot to learn about the Graceling Realm but once I got to page 70 I could not put it down. It gets really…moreI struggled with it until page 70. There is a lot to learn about the Graceling Realm but once I got to page 70 I could not put it down. It gets really good just stick with it a bit longer!(less)
Cristina Honestly, I wouldn't even categorize GRACELING as high fantasy, since it doesn't have the hallmarks of the genre: huge cast of characters, alternating…moreHonestly, I wouldn't even categorize GRACELING as high fantasy, since it doesn't have the hallmarks of the genre: huge cast of characters, alternating POVs, multi-branched plots, a lot of emphasis on describing the world, etc. GRACELING is more of a garden-variety fantsy with a more limited cast of characters, more straightforward plot, etc.

If your biggest beef with GRACELING is the pace, I kind of agree that high fantasy might not be your thing. The canonical stuff (Lord of the Rings, Bruce Sanderson, Terry Goodkind, Marion Zimmerman Bradley) are all pretty descriptive and slow-moving. It's just one of those things about high fantasy.

There are, however, exceptions. I'm not the biggest fantasy reader, so I can't say what they are, but if you look hard, you'll find high fantasy with fast-moving plots, but it's not the standard. (less)

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Miss Clark
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Mature Readers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat Kennedy
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Graceling by Kristin Cashore follows in a burgeoning market for strong female characters.

Katsa is much like Katniss from The Hunger Games in her naive perception of the world, her coldness and tendency towards pragmatic practicality. She is similar to Xhex from the Black Dagger Brotherhood in her disgust of all things "feminine".

The story is well written, with engaging, fun characters. Katsa is fun to read about. The plot may be a little predictable at times but it did throw me a curve ball tow
Aug 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Graceling has a beautiful cover, great premise, and lots of hype, and would be a terrific novel if it weren’t for the writing and atrocious main character.

What is with the awkward sentence structures and prose in this book? "In these dungeons the darkess was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind." It should be "In these dungeons, the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind." And look at the next sentence: "One that had so far proven to be correct, as Oll's maps tended to do."
Miranda Reads
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?
Authors, take note: This is YA Lit done right.

Katsa is a monster. She's been one ever since she discovered the power of her killing Grace. Only...she starts to wonder, does she have to be?

In the Graceling Realm, those born with heterochromia (different colored eyes) are blessed with a Grace.

A Grace can be anything from the mundane (i.e. holding your breath indefinitely) to the cruel (
Emily May
July 2020: I cannot look at my original review for this book anymore. It's time it went under a tag. I won't delete it because it's sorta fun (and deeply embarrassing) to look back on the silly things I thought when I was younger. But I don't believe almost all of the things I wrote 9 years ago. If I ever do a reread, I'll write an updated review.

Old review posted 7th May 2011:
(view spoiler)
Elle (ellexamines)
When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?

This is one of my most reread books of all time, and it was such a big influence on both what I write and what I love to read, and I love and appreciate it more every time. I think this book is a little bit... misunderstood, sometimes.

Graceling opens as Katsa, a character graced with the skill to kill people—literally, actually murder them—puts a group of guards out cold rather
What I think about when I hear the name...

- Po the Panda
- Po from Telletubbies
- A crazy guy (like Edgar Allen Poe)
- Poo

- Ketchup
- Mutant Katniss

- Roar! I'm a T-Rex!

- Tea Leaf

- Skype
- A modern name, which you will NOT find in a medieval place.

King Randa:
- Ranting + Panda. King Ranting Panda!

- Drowsy
- Drowning

- Pig pen
- Thinking pen

- Lick
- Peck
- Neck
- Smack
- Some other variation

- An insult. ("Hey, you Lienid!")

By the way, Po's real name is Green
Updated 04/01/14:

I happen to like books which feature kick-ass feminist heroines and are light on the romance so I should like this book, right?

Yeah, but I don't.

First of all, Katsa acts like a petulant little girl throughout the entire book, not some strong feminist poster woman. Katsa shows very little, if any, personal growth over the course of this novel. Also, I felt like the author spent too much time trying to sell us on the following ideas: femininity is an idea forced upon women by t
it is so hard to write reviews for books i actually like. no, love.

talking about this book is like trying to describe to someone a relationship from long ago that was bittersweet and is now over, but i have never had a relationship that involved so many horses and swordplay, not even metaphorically. and fewer people care about my love life than about this book.

(i see you ariel - you are glowering at me with tiny slitted eyes)

but this book is like a wonderfully sweet relationship. at the beginni
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Okay, so this was a re-read on audio and I thought it was really cool with the multiple narrators and music and stuff. But sometimes one of the voices rubbed me the wrong way and the music went from fantasy to what sounded like western music. Lol. Maybe it was just me! I still loved the book though =)


I am in love with Katsa! She is an awesome inspiration for women warriors in a book. She kicks arse and takes names. I love the fact that she doesn't care anything about marriage or having kids. Sh
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is why it's so fun to revisit and reread an old book. It's amazing to remember the discourse around this novel 12 years ago. A revolutionary teen fantasy with a heroine who doesn't want to marry! and have kids! also periods and birth control are mentioned! So much debate and ranting, in which I participated too, to my embarrassment. (Should I delete my ramblings or leave my stupidity for posterity?) Does anyone care about people not committing to marriage or childbearing anymore? Certainly ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melanie by: Elle (ellexamines)

(My amazing friend Lea, at drumsofautumn, gave this to me as a birthday gift!) 💖

this had a bit of a slow start, but oh my word was the last 50% a 6 star read. i loved this. truly.

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this is a really good 'in the moment' kind of story. i felt pretty present and engaged whilst reading it, but i havent thought about this once since ive finished it... which makes me kinda question what i actually liked about it.

the concept of the graced is cool, but i couldnt really tell you anything about them other than they exist. the writing itself is decent, but the pacing is slow and the story drawn out. there is a satisfying ending, but the climax happens within the blink of a sentence a
Wendy Darling
Loved it. Except for the raging feminist agenda.

NOTE: Since these two brief, flippant sentences have gotten so many trolls over the years, I'll just add that I support the book's feminist ideals 100%.

What I do not like is the way we're hammered over the head with the message. (The "raging" part, if you will.) It's inelegant, tiresome soapboxing that managed to annoy someone who actually agrees with the principles, so I don't know how it's going to persuade anyone who does not. Katsa's views als
Gah sooo good!

Okay, I read some of the other reviews and now I feel the need to defend this book. Basically, I think it's completely hilarious how many people are shocked and appalled that 1) there is sex in this book, and 2) the heroine does not desire to get married or have children. Guess what? Young adults *do* have sex. And the idea that it's not love if you don't want to marry them, or that you shouldn't have sex until you're married is why all the poor children in your congregation are ma
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
4 Stars


“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”

I honestly didn’t know anything about this, but I'd seen it around and finally it was recommended enough. I was really surprised by the depth of this story and the characters.

The story revolves around Katsa, who lives in a world where people can be born with a ‘Grace.’ Meaning, aside from two-different eye colors, they have an exceptional skill. Katsa’s grace is kill
Jul 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-books, fantasy
[This is a review of an advance copy.:]

While Cashore shows herself to be a promising writer in many respects, this book could have used a better editing job, especially with the pacing, the climax and the dénouement. Other points:

1. The dialogue she put in the ten-year-old princess's mouth was not believable in the slightest; maybe Cashore should spend some time around pre-adolescent girls to get an idea of what they really talk like.

2. The psychology of several of the characters (including Kats
Jul 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
This was pretty much one of the most irritating books of all time - and consistent with my idea of YA fantasy. But I fought my way through it because, goshdarnit, I picked it up at the library, dragged it home with a load of other books and groceries, and renewed it the max number of times - I was gonna finish it.

You know the kickbutt heroine who is just totally kickbutt and doesn't need no one, no way, no how, and yet loves and feels and hurts deeply and yet keeps everyone away because she is b
I tried to read this twice and failed. The third time, I made myself read it.

Still didn't actually care, but I did it.

Let's see. Katsa was literally just a piece of cardboard who didn't care about anything expect beating stuff up and walking though a mountain range. Oh, also, she has speshul abilities that make her able to live through literally everything. So she's not as fragile as cardboard, which is therapeutic to stab. Katsa is immune to being stabbed. So I guess she's a rock.

Po was useles
2.5 stars.

This started off really well and I was actually enjoying it, but around page 230 I started to drift away from the plot and (view spoiler) really annoyed me because I did not like their romantic relationship. The plot started to bore me and I suddenly disliked Katsa's character after page 230 or somewhere around that.

◆I love love LOVED Katsa's character in the beginning. She's graced with the power to fight and kill unlike any huma
Wren (fablesandwren)
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine are two authors that have dreamed up books that made a handprint on my childhood. They are lively and they are uplifting and they shine girls in a light that the media and history turn a blind eye to.

Well, now I am going to add Kristin Cashmore to that list.

She writes exactly like those two ladies mentioned about, but for a slightly older age group. She grasps the fairytale feel by the hand and wrote this story a
may ➹
get you a friend who drops everything to reread this with you because you’re sad and need the serotonin

(update: I binged this in 2 days but now I have no serotonin anymore)

// buddy read with my favorite person ever
Jul 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Ambivalence: the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions ( Thus ends my Graceling review.

Kidding! But it does sum it up nicely.

On the one hand, I found it a fast, engaging read that was hard to put down. As a favorite tale states, there is "fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." Alright, maybe not
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
My teenage daughter brought this home from the library and didn't get to it soon enough, so I swiped it from her and read it in one day. It was a fun read for the most part and certainly kept my attention; I found myself making excuses to my visiting relatives in the evening so I could hole up in my bedroom and finish this novel in peace (in my defense, it was 11:30 pm and they'd been talking my ears off for two hours). That said, I have some qualms about recommending this book.

A lot has been sa
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More)
Feb 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: recommended for adventure aspects, not interpersonal/relationship aspects
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
mark monday
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
about six times a year, I facilitate a weekend training on being a peer support volunteer. our volunteers are often very, very different from our clients, so our training often focuses on how to bridge those differences and build a empathetic and supportive relationship. we go over many topics, include what we call "Cultural Awareness". this is a catch-all phrase and not simply about culture per se - although of course everyone hails from a particular culture, one that helps form who that person ...more
Maggie ☘
*4.75/5 stars*


I've read a few reviews stating that Katsa is problematic because she's against feminine things like dresses, marriage etc. But I don't think she dislikes dresses or marriage for other people at all, I don't think she judges them for it, she simply does not want the same for herself. As is her prerogative. She simply doesn't feel overly traditionally feminine herself, which is also fine. I don't think it's as much of a stance against these things as it is that deep down sh
Candi Stephenson
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Hm. The hardest thing about this book is that it COULD HAVE BEEN SO GOOD. I started out loving everything about it and ready to recommend it to everyone. But then it started reading like a feminist/anti-marriage/anti-kids campaign platform (okay - that might be a little much, but you started to feel that the author had an agenda). It was just really disappointing, because I loved the characters so much. Oh well.
Also - even though it's considered a YA novel, there is sex in it. Pretty disappoint
Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.)
I really enjoyed the history and mainly the amazing kingdom that the writer has created .


I know that many will believe it is something unfair my punctuation and I respect that because this series has a lot of fans, but I have not felt comfortable with the idea of putting more because I liked but I haven't loved as I thought it would

“I'm not going to wear a red dress," she said.
"It would look stunning, My Lady," she called.
She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "I
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Kristin Cashore grew up in the northeast Pennsylvania countryside as the second of four daughters. She received a bachelor's degree from Williams College and a master's from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College. She currently lives in the Boston area. ...more

Other books in the series

Graceling Realm (5 books)
  • Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)
  • Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)
  • Winterkeep (Graceling Realm, #4)
  • Untitled (Graceling Realm, #5)

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Whether it’s magic schools, dystopias, paranormal love stories, or contemporary explorations of important real-life issues, young adult books...
222 likes · 174 comments
“I'm not going to wear a red dress," she said.
"It would look stunning, My Lady," she called.
She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face.”
“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” 1749 likes
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