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Graceling Paperback – September 7, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,447 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Graceling Realm Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?

Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.

Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following beyond the last chapter of this book. (Ages 14 and up) --Heidi Broadhead

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—In this debut fantasy novel, Cashore treats readers to compelling and eminently likable characters and a story that draws them in from the first paragraph. In Katsa's world, the "Graced," those gifted in a particular way, are marked by eyes that are different colors. Katsa's Grace is that she is a gifted fighter, and, as such, she is virtually invincible. She is in the service of her tyrannical uncle, king of one of the seven kingdoms, and she is forced to torture people for infractions against him. She has secretly formed the Council, which acts in the service of justice and fairness for those who have been accused and abused. Readers meet her as she is rescuing the father of the Lienid king, who has been abducted. The reasons for his capture are part of a tightening plot that Katsa unravels and resolves, with the help of Prince Po, the captive's grandson. He has his own particular Grace, and he becomes Katsa's lover and partner in what becomes a mortally dangerous mission. Cashore's style is exemplary: while each detail helps to paint a picture, the description is always in the service of the story, always helping readers to a greater understanding of what is happening and why. This is gorgeous storytelling: exciting, stirring, and accessible. Fantasy and romance readers will be thrilled.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Graceling
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547258305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547258300
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,447 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was a real treat to read. It was interesting on so many different levels. There is a powerful heroine who undergoes a transformation, discovering a strength of character to match her physical strength. Watching Katsa mature through the narrative was wonderful. The political intrigue was surprisingly compelling, and the mystery that drives the plot (why was this old man kidnapped, and by whom?) really worked. The romance was captivating. Even though it is obvious where the romance is going from the very first encounter, it was skillfully written. The magical elements of the story are not overwhelming, but alter reality just enough to make for a fun, fantastical world. I found myself sneaking off to read more of this book, and I was sorry to see it end.

BUT. This is billed as a book for 14 yo and up, so I think it fair to warn parents of elements they may not want their young teen to encounter. There are a couple of fairly discreet sex scenes, where the author is clear about what is going on but not very detailed. There is also a mention of a brothel near the beginning of the book (although a more offensive word is used to describe it) and there are many incidences of unwanted attention paid to girls or inappropriate comments made about them. This is a plot element, since it makes the lead female character defensive of the young women.

Also, and this is probably the "biggie" for conservative parents, Katsa rejects the concept of marriage, and there are several times when one or another character implies that it is a yoke that will force a couple to stay together regardless of their actual feelings.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Graceling is an engrossing read with wonderfully interesting characters and I enjoyed it on many levels. I won't summarize the plot again for this Amazon review, but the author offers some interesting thoughts on talents and personal agency that are insightful while telling a good story that can be taken at surface level for a light read if that's all you seek.

The book has a satisfying romance that is neither mushy nor too remote. It rang more true overall than most relationships that have been in my recent reading. It's not primarily a romance, although the romance is a strong secondary plot that provides some of the motivation for the characters.

About halfway through, I began to wonder about it being YA since the characters do not come across as teens. I had to go back to the copyright page and check the recommended reading age to verify that, yes, it is being promoted as YA for ages 14 and up. Really, it is a toss up either way. Not that YA isn't mature and wonderful--I read a lot of it after all--but it could have just as easily been marketed to adults. I think the majority of readable fantasy is in YA these days.

I highly recommend the novel but I have to do so with a warning. If it matters to you, the book has a rather anti-marriage message in it which fits the main character's personality, but will be the most problematic element for some readers.

Graceling is well-written with some grand adventure, musings on talents, as well as characters who actually grow and change as they learn more about themselves. It never goes for the cheap shot in action sequences although they aren't the focus of the story. In other words, I liked it. Even the few philosophies that I didn't agree with made me think. That makes it a book worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished this book so this review is like my first impression. I actually read it based on a very positive review from someone who usually has more common sense, so I almost expected a mind-blowing novel. Instead, as I went through the whole thing, I found myself more and more disappointed and hoped it would improve before the end, but it didn't (spoilers ahead).

I didn't give it only one star for the simple reason that the author put some effort into the accuracy of descriptions such as crossing a mountain (I've seen characters crossing frozen mountains without any sort of equipment and coming out as fresh as if they had taken a stroll in the park), and also because this book is still better than some very popular romance novels. At least Katsa has some other goals in life than dedicating it to a man, and Po tries not to be too possessive or controlling.

Still we are being served another version of Mary Sue and Gary Stu. Katsa seemed to be an interesting character at first, but then she succeeds in almost everything she does: she created the Council all by herself, is described as invincible since she can survive everywhere, she teaches people to fight, etc... That's quite a lot for only one person. Why not leave a bit more credit to the others?
As for her views on certain things such as marriage, I would have expected her to at least reconsider her position by the end of the book.
The main character's love interest has everything, the good looks, a good heritage, a Grace that allows him to have a good ending no matter what and a more than remarkable dedication to Katsa, which also makes him almost perfect. The rest of the characters are just cardboard characters, with of course the "good peasants" and the "evil kings".
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