August 23rd, 2011


by Kristin Cashore

Ana's Rating

Readers Rating

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Rating: 2.5/5 (4 votes cast)


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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…


In the land of the Seven Kingdoms, few people are Graced, able to excel at a certain talent. Those who are, however, are feared, shunned, and given to their king, so he may use them to his advantage. Some Graces are banal–such as the ability to juggle or sing particularly well.

And some Graces are fatal.

Katsa is Graced with killing. She is forced to deal out King Randa’s punishments by dismembering, maiming and publicly murdering those who disregard his will. She is known throughout the Kingdoms as King Randa of the Middluns’s Lady Killer: Dangerous. Cruel. Unbeaten.

But one day, while doing buisness for the Council, a committee that Katsa began in order to save the Kingdoms from their arrogant kings, Katsa meets her match. Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, is an opponent that Katsa has difficulty beating. (Difficulty! Unheard of!) This brings the two of them into an unlikely friendship that changes the course of the future of the Seven Kingdoms.

Graceling is an amazing book. The characters had distinctive personalities and depth.  The idea of Graces was so original. Not once did I ever think “Hmm. This idea was better executed in this book. This plot resembles that of this book.” No, Graceling was completely refreshing and new.

The world building. Whoa. Wow. Dang. This is the kind of world building that I fawn over, gush over, and talk about for weeks. This is the kind of world building that deserves a medal, a trophy, or in the very least, a recommendation. The Seven Kingdoms all have individual landscapes and tendencies. The kings are realistically portrayed as power-hungry and arrogant. The land has just enough chaos to seem genuine, but not enough so that the Kingdoms actively engage in war. The paranoia, fear and shunning of Graces is truthfully depicted–I can imagine the same attitude towards them if they appeared in our world.

I’ve read so many reviews bashing on Katsa. I don’t agree with them. Yes, Katsa has trouble controlling her temper and probably needs anger management. Yes, she’s physically violent . Yes, she can be selfish. Yes, she has a deep fear of commitment and relationships. Yes, she never outgrew the tom-boy phase most girls go through at some point in their lives, and therefore rejects dresses, jewelry and pretty hair.

This makes Katsa harder to relate to, but it doesn’t make her any less realistic.

I’ve also read some reviews claiming that Katsa has no-strings-attached sex with another character. This is not the case. Katsa has feelings for this character, she cares about him, and they have sex. Just because they do not wish to get married, which is an offense in  Cashore’s somewhat-medieval world, does not make their relationship any less credible. If Katsa believes that getting married is losing herself, so be it. I appreciate her honesty and her self-respect. Besides, look at most young adults today: do they form relationships only in the hopes of getting married? No. They date because they like each other, they’d like to explore their feelings, and being with someone who likes you is better than being alone.

Only a couple of things could have been improved in Graceling:

1: How Cashore gives hints towards the solutions of some mysteries, but doesn’t give readers enough time to figure them out on their own. She could have left, at the bare minimum, one or two chapters between the presentation of the mystery and the hints towards its solution, and another 2 chapters between the hints and the solution itself. This would have increased Graceling‘s suspense and kept more people interested.

2: The ending. There’s not supposed to be a second book about Katsa and Po, but I found Graceling‘s ending to be somewhat of a cliffhanger.

My final statement: An amazing book. For everybody. 4.9/5 stars.


I’ll keep you posted,

Graceling, 2.5 out of 5 based on 4 ratings


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2 Responses to Graceling

  1. Pingback: The strongest female protagonist | What YA Reading?

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