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(Graceling Realm #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  434,109 ratings  ·  25,033 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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Natasha Tonge really doesn't. There are 3 maybe 4 dramatic scenes over the course of the book. The first is the first 100 pages or so when the main characte… really doesn't. There are 3 maybe 4 dramatic scenes over the course of the book. The first is the first 100 pages or so when the main characters are getting to know each other then there is a lot of traveling. A LOT of traveling. If you really love the main characters then it might keep you entertained to see them developing their friendship but if you're kind of eh about them anyway and reading for the plot then forget about. Try the first 100 pages or so - at least until they start traveling and if you're still bored out of your mind (like I was) then I don't recommend continuing.(less)
Serena I haven't read the Graceling series, but I have read the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I highly recommend it. I loved the books and I thoug…moreI haven't read the Graceling series, but I have read the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I highly recommend it. I loved the books and I thought they were super exciting.(less)

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  434,109 ratings  ·  25,033 reviews

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Aug 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Edit (6/14/2022): This review was written a long time ago when I was a lot younger. Not sure if I'd feel that strongly now as I did back then but for those who didn't want to read the length of it...

tl;dr: Katsa was annoying af with an atrocious attitude, horse abuse, and uncreative world building without strong writing.

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 awkwa
Miss Clark
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
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?

When I was ten through when I was twelve, I used to travel to see extended family multiple times a year, flying across the U.S. to do it. I owned Graceling, and a collection of other YA fantasy books, on Kindle. I would reread this book every single time I flew because it meant so much to me. This is one of my most reread books of all time, and it was such a big influence on bot
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
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
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it

(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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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
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
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
Era ➴
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jul 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya-books
[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
Drcong O '
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
Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)
Something about this book really pulled me in and made me feel all sorts of squishy emotions, despite the grit and gore of the plot. The characters won me over so quickly and I think ultimately that’s what did it for me. Combined with some of my favourite tropes and a story I was invested in, I ended up loving this one even more than expected. I can see why it’s been a favourite of so many for years now.
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
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
Feb 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

This book was not for me. It has a very pretty cover and an interesting premise, but sadly, that is where my admiration for it ends.

I really hated this author's writing style. The sentence structure and dialogue felt very juvenile to me -- at one point I checked to see if it was actually a children's book instead of YA. The writing style bothered me the most when it came to scenes involving fighting. The descriptions of the characters' actions were very clumsily written, and I had a hard ti
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
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it
First, this cover art is STUNNING. Second, er I dunno. I thought the conceit of this world was really interesting, but like most of the book I felt like it skimmed across the surface of things that could have been better explored. It read at a very young-adult level, which is ok, but a little surface-y for my tastes. I found myself over and over wanting a meatier delving into the character and what was happening in the world (which were some interesting characters and plotting.)

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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)
  • Seasparrow (Graceling Realm, #5)

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