Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) – Kristin Cashore

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) – Kristin CashoreTitle: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
Publishing Info: October 8, 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 15, 2012
Related Posts: Jane, Unlimited

    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...


I picked up GRACELING due to the many, many glowing reviews I’ve seen around the blogosphere. Usually I’m not one for fantasy-type stories or settings in kingdoms. For some reason, I’m not usually captured by medieval stories or fantasy worlds — But GRACELING was just so much more than that!

I loved the idea of Graces. It’s only a few people who develop Graces and they must protect themselves fiercely for the fear that they’ll be taken advantage of by those who have power over them. Katsa’s Grace was abused by her uncle, King Randa of Middlun, and she was forced to do his bidding of pain and killings against his enemies with her Grace ability of fighting and killing.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Katsa is a fighter — She’s tough, she’s strong, and she’s built up a wall around herself that’s tough for people to break. Her only close companions are her cousin Raffin (who’s another extremely enjoyable and funny character) and less close, her companions of the Council and her servant Helda. The relationship that develops between her and Po is extremely hesitant at first, but easily became one of my favorite relationships in a book. Katsa and Po are both extremely strong characters, but together they create a perfect team. Katsa is more serious, and always has been, and Po has an excellent sense of her and is able to bring the humor. I love his teasing of Katsa and he really breaks her down and is able to create such a trusting and loving bond with her.

The mystery behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather was also a great development in the story. It’s not just fighting and romance and fighting and romance. We learn more about the true nature of a few of the kingdoms as we also develop more of the characters. It’s many layers of a story that unfold so nicely and seamlessly carried me throughout the book.

Bitterblue, who we meet later in the story (and I’ve grown to not hate her name as I had before I read the book!), is another great character addition. She’s a little fireball and another strong character. Even with all of the strength in this book, I was never overwhelmed, which looking back on it is surprising.

GRACELING just had it all: A great story line, a fantastic world, an element of almost “supernatural” with the Graces, fighting, romance, humor, more romance, evil, action, the outdoors, fantasy, wonderful character development. And I just loved Cashore’s writing style! It felt a little medieval without being overwhelming or confusing with the language. It put me in the perfect mindset while reading and really helped develop the story that much more.


Buy it!

 I loved it! And that’s exactly what I exclaimed after I finished the book and closed it. And hugged it.


  • p 134: Katsa didn’t think a person should thank her for not causing pain. Causing joy was worth of thanks, and causing pain was worthy of disgust. Causing neither was neither, it was nothing, and nothing didn’t warrant thanks.
  • p 187: (Po to Katsa, humorously) “And I suppose it never occurs to you to start small. If I told you my roof needed rebuilding, you’d start by knocking down the house.”
  • p 202: Po sat back in his chair. His eyes flicked lazily around the room. He drank from his cup of cider, and his finger traced the wet ring it left on the table. He leaned his elbow on the table and propped his head in his hand. He yawned. He looked, Katsa thought, as if he only needed a lullaby and he would nod off to sleep. It was a good act.
  • p 431: King Ror: “I have no doubt that you are more than capable of bringing the Monsean queen and my son and the rest of my sons and a hundred Nanderan kittens through and onslaught of howling raiders if you chose to.”

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE GRACELING


Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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15 thoughts on “Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) – Kristin Cashore

  1. Stephanie H.

    Hi Brittany. This is the book I would really like if I would win your giveaway. I have really been wanting to read this book, and haven’t had the chance to buy it yet. I have heard wonderful things about it and your review makes the book sound absolutely amazing. I am sure that I will love it. 😀

  2. gwenkate

    Wonderful review! Graceling is one of my favorite books, but I sometimes have a hard time of expressing why – you nailed it! I also love how you added quotes from the book to – I have some favorites in Fire, the follow-up.

    1. Brittany

      Haha yay!!! I know, I’m totally not allowed to request anything from the library or get any new books right now. I have too many that I need to read really soon! 🙂

  3. nerdybookreviews

    I loved the quotes section, although my own favourites were slightly different, I did appreciate the first one!

    This has to be one of my favourite quotes from the book!

    “This girl she would hurt; this girl she would torture if it would stop her from taking Katsa’s thoughts.”

    A rather sinister quote, but I thought Katsa’s direction of thought was rather cool for her character as we were first introduced to her. I felt like we lost a little bit of that fire as we went along, but glad to see you enjoyed this too!

    1. Brittany

      Ooh that is a good one! Shows you a lot about her character right off the bat. Going into it further, I think she did lose a little fire in the sense that she wasn’t thinking as brutally and instinctively protective, but she did gain some in the sense that she grew more passionate about her Grace as well as new friends and love 🙂 yay, so fun talking about it!

      1. nerdybookreviews

        Yes, she certainly did in that aspect! 🙂

        I think maybe she had more to be concerned about so she could be less gun ho, but I appreciated her when we first met her still.

  4. Candice

    Happy dance for Graceling! It’s SUCH a good series and I’m glad you’ve gotten a chance to read the first book! Hopefully you’ll get to Fire (which is my FAVORITE) soon! Also, I’ve seen The Looking Glass Wars before and, as a huge Alice in Wonderland fan, I really think I need to read it, especially with your recommendation!

    1. Brittany

      I can’t wait to read Fire!! I was so excited when I saw it in the local sidewalk sale! I do recommend the Looking Glass Wars. I just thought it was so creative with the new take on the story.

  5. inlibrisveritas

    I really need to read this. Even though I’ve been wanting to read it and have seen a ton of people talk about it, this is the first review I’ve read. I certainly want to read it now.


  6. Briana

    Wow, you finished this book today and already wrote a review for it? I envy your productivity.

    I recently read Graceling, too, (though my review is scheduled far in the future in October), and I have to agree that it is wonderful. I love how everyone is picking up on the plethora of great quotes in it, too. It was one of the strongest things I noticed as I was reading.

    I have to admit that before reading Graceling, I did not know Bitterblue was a name and was completely confused by the title of the third book. So, far from thinking it’s a strange name (which is probably fair), I mainly experienced relief that the word finally made some sort of sense to me.

    I actually finished Bitterblue yesterday and have concluded that Graceling is my favorite of the series, though they all have their merits.


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