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Graceling cover.png
Author Kristin Cashore
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fantasy, Romance
Publisher Harcourt
Publication date
October 1, 2008 (1st edition)
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)
Pages 480 (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 978-0-15-206396-2 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 185123364
LC Class PZ7.C26823 Gr 2008
Followed by Fire

Graceling is a young adult fantasy novel written by American author Kristin Cashore, and her literary debut.

The book earned a place on the Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year for 2008[1] and received generally favorable reviews. It was followed by a companion book entitled Fire, and a sequel, Bitterblue, which takes place eight years after the events in Graceling,[2] was published on May 1, 2012, by Dial, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.


The book opens with Katsa sneaking into a dungeon and preparing to overpower a group of guards. Katsa has overpowering force due to her Graced power and knocks out a series of guards, then gives them sleeping pills. Katsa arrives at the old Lienid man Tealiff in a jail cell and leaves as her secret Council accomplice Giddon begins to pick the lock on the Lienid man's cell. Katsa is about to leave the area when she meets a Graced Lienid fighter. She knocks him out, but decides to not kill him though he knows her identity. Outside of her secret Council organization, Katsa must obey the will of King Randa of the Middluns, and kills and maims people that King Randa dislikes. When Katsa returns to the Middluns court, she again meets the Lienid fighter. She ends up fighting him, and then decides to bring the Lienid fighter, Prince Po, to see his grandfather Tealiff. Katsa becomes friends with Prince Po and becomes his fighting and sparring partner. After Katsa is able to openly defy King Randa, she agrees to go with Prince Po to find the true authors of the kidnapping of Tealiff. This is despite Katsa's resentment at finding out that Po is really a Graced mind reader, but he only knows when people are thinking something about him.

Katsa journeys through the woods of Sunder on the trail of the kidnappers of Tealiff. Po has mind reading powers and finds out that merchants at an inn know that King Leck of Monsea has committed crimes, though they swear that Leck is innocent of crimes against Tealiff. Po decides that King Leck, who is one-eyed, must be secretly Graced with the power to make others believe his lying stories. Katsa and Po want to rescue Po's aunt Ashen and her daughter Bitterblue from King Leck. Katsa and Po find Leck, who kills Ashen as she flees. Katsa is overwhelmed by Leck's Graced power and they are forced to flee. They are able to find Bitterblue hiding in the forest. Po is able to confront Leck, but is wounded and has to hide in the woods in Monsea, while Katsa and Bitterblue flee Monsea through a dangerous and inaccessible mountain pass. Katsa and Bitterblue survive the journey and get to a ship at the port of Suncliff. After a fight, they convince the ship's captain that they are acting for Prince Po, and make for Po's castle.

At Po's castle, Katsa is shocked to find King Leck has taken over, but is nearly overwhelmed by his Graced power. Only Katsa's love for Po enables her to kill Leck when he is about to blurt out that Po is a Graced mind reader. With Leck dead, his stories are exposed as lies and Katsa and Bitterblue return to Monsea with Bitterblue to become the new queen. They find Po in the woods alive, but Katsa discovers that Po is actually blind due to his wounds. Nevertheless, with his Graced mind reader and sensing powers, Po has the ability to convince others that he can see. Katsa and Po renew their relationship, though Katsa now has taken on the new mission to teach the girls and women of the seven kingdoms to defend themselves. The lovers promise to reunite in a few months at Po's castle.


  • Lady Katsa - The protagonist. Katsa's Grace is initially thought to be killing, as she reflexively killed a cousin who touched her inappropriately when she was eight. Her uncle, King Randa, realized if she mastered her Grace she could be of great use to him. He began using her to torture and kill all those who displeased or crossed him, leading Katsa to garner a fearful reputation among all seven kingdoms. Towards the end of the novel, she and Po realize that her Grace is not killing, but survival. Katsa has fair skin, dark hair that she prefers to keep short, one green eye and one blue.
  • Prince Po - The youngest of the seven princes of Lienid, and the son of King Ror. Po is Graced with perception: he can sense any feelings, thoughts or intentions a person has towards him, as well as everything's position in relation to himself, which is useful, as he became blind after falling off a horse. When his mother and grandfather discovered his Grace, they feared people would want to use him for it or distrust him, so they taught him to pass it off as a fighting Grace. His full name is Greening Grandemalion, but his gold and silver eyes earned him the nickname "Po" (after the gold and silver leaves of the Lienid Po tree).
  • King Leck - The former King of Monsea and the primary antagonist of the book. Although he is renowned for his kindness towards small animals and children, he is actually a sadist who enjoys torturing and experimenting on people and animals alike. This has not come to light due to his powerful Grace: to control and influence people with his words. He married Ashen, King Ror's sister, and had a daughter with her, Bitterblue. His Grace stopped working on Ashen when she realized he planned to hurt Bitterblue, leading both wife and daughter to lock themselves in their quarters and eventually escape. He pursued the two, killing Ashen when he finally caught up with her, and scouring the forest for Bitterblue. He covers one of his eyes with an eyepatch, which he claims is due to an injury he suffered at a young age. This has the added benefit of hiding the fact that he's a Graceling. He is killed by Katsa when he tries to reveal the truth of Po's Grace.
  • Bitterblue - She is the 10-year-old daughter of King Leck and the Princess of Monsea. Leck's Grace stopped working on her when she saw him hit her mother. Over the course of the book she grows close to Katsa and Po, forming a sibling-like relationship with them. She is the main protagonist in the sequel, Bitterblue.
  • King Randa - King of the Middluns and Katsa's uncle. Like most kings in the Seven Kingdoms, he is far from being a fair or just ruler (although never evil enough that the Council seriously contemplates assassinating him). When he realized Katsa had a Grace that could be useful to him, he began commanding her to kill, maim and torture anyone who defied or displeased him, scolding her if she didn't inflict the exact punishment he'd ordered and verbally abusing her into obedience.
  • Prince Raffin - The Prince of the Middluns and Katsa's cousin. He enjoys working on medicines and cures, a fascination he shares with his assistant and lover, Bann. He secretly works for the Council.
  • Bann - Prince Raffin's assistant. It's implied that the two are lovers, which is confirmed in Bitterblue.
  • Lord Giddon - One of Randa's underlords, and a member of the Council. He is in love with Katsa, something which everyone apart from Katsa herself seems to have realized. Because of this, he is extremely jealous of Po.
  • Lord Oll - Randa's captain and spymaster. He secretly works as a member of the Council. He's the one that helped Katsa learn how to control her Grace.
  • Captain Faun - Ship captain and tradeswoman

Awards and nominations[edit]

Graceling was shortlisted for the American Library Association's (ALA) William C. Morris YA Award, is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, was a Cybils finalist (Fantasy/SF category), and was a finalist for both the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (the SFWA's award for YA given concurrently with the Nebulas) and the Indies Choice Book Awards (Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book category).[2] Graceling won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance 2009 Young Adult SIBA Book Award.[3] The book also was awarded:

Film Adaptation[edit]

It was announced on April 25, 2013, that the film rights had been acquired by Reliance Entertainment.[10]


Sue Ellen Beauregard, author of "Top 10 first novels for youth on audio" of the Audiobook review, said that it had "[m]any layered fantasy adventures."[11] School Library Journal stated that the characters are "compelling and eminently likeable" and called Cashore's style "exemplary".[2] Kirkus Reviews called Katsa an "ideal adolescent heroine" and said that the story is "Grace-full, in every sense."[12] A New York Times review praised Graceling's "rich fantasy world" and deemed it a story of teens' growing into their talents.[13]

Publication history[edit]


  1. ^ a b PW Review Staff (November 3, 2008). "PW's Best Books of the Year". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on January 8, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Cashore, Kristin (February 28, 2008). "My Books". This Is My Secret. 
  3. ^ Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) (July 4, 2009). "2009 SIBA Book Award Winners Announced" (Press release). Columbia, South Carolina. 
  4. ^ Jones, Trevelyn; Toth, Luann; Charnizon, Marlene; Grabarek, Daryl; Fleishhacker, Joy (December 1, 2008). "School Library Journal's Best Books 2008". School Library Journal. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ Cooper, Ilene (November 15, 2008). "Top 10 First Novels for Youth: 2008". Booklist. 
  6. ^ "Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 2008". Booklist. January 1, 2009. 
  7. ^ "2009 Amelia Bloomer List". Amelia Bloomer Project Blog. February 10, 2009. 
  8. ^ David Macinnis Gill (July 17, 2009). "The 2009 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Finalists". The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Award-Winning Fantasy Books for Youth: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature". (S-Collection) The School Collection: Children's Literature at the Education & Social Science Library. University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. April 9, 2012. Archived from the original on April 16, 2012. 
  10. ^ West, Kimmy (27 April 2013). "'Graceling' by Kristin Cashore picked up for film adaptation by Reliance Entertainment". Page to Premiere. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Beauregard, Sue Ellen (October 15, 2010). "Top 10 first novels for youth on audio". Audiobook review. 107 (4): 66. 
  12. ^ "GRACELING by Kristin Cashore". Kirkus Reviews. September 1, 2008. 
  13. ^ Roiphe, Katie (November 9, 2008). "Sunday Book Review: Lady Killer". The New York Times. p. BR33. 

External links[edit]