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Graceling by Kristin Cashore

y Kristin Cashore

Publishing Information: Houghton Mifflin: New York, 2008
ISBN: 9780547194899 / 9780547404936 (PB) / 9781441882448 (Audio)
: 471 p.
Ages: 12 & Up

In a world where some people are  born with extreme and often-feared skills called  Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption  from her own horrifying Grace-the Grace of killing – and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.

Born able to kill people with her bare hands, teenaged Lady Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, lands where people are sometimes born with such extreme skills, called a “Grace.” Gracelings are feared and frequently exploited, often forced into service by disreputable leaders to commit acts of terror on other rulers and their own subjects. To perhaps counterbalance her violent role as enforcer for her uncle, King Randa of the Middluns,  Katsa forms a secret council of vigilantes of her own, the purpose of the group being to uphold justice throughout the kingdoms. When she meets another Graced fighter, she has met her match; they form a bond and together set out to solve a kidnapping and restore peace.

Book Talk:
Identified by her one green eye and one blue, Katsa is a graceling. She is one of the very few born with a special gift, or “grace.”

King Randa, Katsa's uncle, is one of seven kings that rule the seven kingdoms of the land. When she is eight, he recognizes her gift as the ability to kill. By the time she is eighteen, she has become his enforcer, sent to torture those whom Randa finds disloyal.

Katsa hates her job and rebels by leading a secret council fighting for justice and fairness against the corrupt rules of the land. While rescuing the kidnapped father of the King of Lienid, Katsa meets Po, the king's son. Po is a silver- and gold-eyed graceling. They seem destined to be together.

In a mortally dangerous mission, Katsa and Po set out to save Bitterblue who is held by King Leck. Though much admired, King Leck actually has the ability to deceive, and he uses it for his own evil purposes.

Together, Katsa and Po stand a chance of success. But when Po becomes injured, Katsa must decide whether to save Po—or try to complete the mission alone.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Girl Warriors
Good vs. Evil
Political Corruption

Awards & Reviews:
Amelia Bloomer Project, 2009
Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominee, 2011
Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2009
Booklist Ediotr's Choice, 2008
Bulletin Blue Ribbons, 2009
California Young Reader Medal Nominee, 2012
Capittol Choices, 2009
Colorado Blue Spruce Award Nominee, 2011
Georgia Peach Award Nominee, 2010
Illinois Lincoln Award Nominee, 2011
Indiana Eliot Rosewater Award Nominee, 2011
Indies Choice Book Award Honor Book, 2008
Iowa High School Book Award Nominee, 2011
Kentucky Bluegrass Award Nominee, 2010
Kirkus Best Young Adult Books, 2008
Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award Nominee, 2011
Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee, 2011
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, 2009
Nebraska Golden Sower Award Nominee, 2012
New Hampshire Flume Award NOminee, 2010
New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award, 2011
Oklahoma Sequoyah Award Nominee, 2011
Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Award Nominee, 2011
Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Books, 2008
School Library Journal Best Books for Children, 2008
Southern INdependet Book Sellers Alliance Book Award (Young Adult), 2009
Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Nominee, 2011
Texas Lone Star Reading List, 2011
Texas Tayshas Reading LIst, 2011
Virginia Readers' Choice Award Nominee, 2011
William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Nominee, 2009
Wyoming Soaring Eagle Book Award Nominee, 2011
Young Adult Library Services Assocation Best Books for Young Adults, 2009

Booklist, October 1, 2008
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 1, 2009
Horn Book
, November 1, 2008
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2008 (Starred Review)
New York Times Book Review, July 21, 2008 (Starred Review)
School Library Journal, October 1, 2008 (Starred Review)
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, October 1, 2008

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. The concept of a Grace plays an important role in the development of characters in Graceling. What is your definition of a Grace? If you could have a special Grace, what would it be?

  2. Which type of Grace do you think is more powerful—one that is an enhancement of physical strengths or one that is an enhancement of mental strengths?

  3. Gracelings are described as “outsiders” and “not normal.” If the skills of a Graceling are not helpful to the king then they are ostracized from their community. Why do the townspeople treat the Gracelings in this way?

  4. What are the things Katsa fears the most? How do these fears affect her thoughts, actions, and behavior?

  5. Katsa learns that power throughout the Seven Kingdoms can be gained from a variety of sources. What are some of these sources? What opinions does Katsa have about people in positions of authority? Is she interested in having power or authority over others?

  6. Katsa spends much of her daily life involved in combat and fighting. Describe how she feels about combat at the start of the novel. Do her opinions about being a skilled fighter change by the end of the story? How and why?

  7. Check out for more.

Related Websites:
Author's Website -
Author's Blog - (Note: Author passed away in February of 2011)
BetterPhoto: Photography for Kids and Teens -
TeenInk: Teen Photography at Its Best -

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The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, 2001
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 2009
The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle, 2001
Enna Burning  by Shannon Hale, 2004
Girl in Blue by Ann RInaldi, 2001
The Hero and the Crown
by Robin McKinley, 1988
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 2008 (2010 RITBA Nominee)
I Am Apache by Tanya Landman, 2008
I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson, 1998
The Legend of Lady Ilena by Patricia Malone, 2002
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, 2010
The Moon Riders by Theresa Tomlinson, 2006
My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier by Lynda Durrant, 2006
Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner, 2007
Piratica: Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl's Adventure Upon the High Seas by Tanith Lee, 2004
Pirates!: The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kingston, Female Pirates  by Celia Rees, 2003 (2005 RITBA Nominee)
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The Sacrifice by Diane Matcheck, 1998
Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones, 2009

Other Books by the Author:
, 2009

About the Author:
Published in 2008, Graceling is Kristin Cashore’ first novel. Her second novel, Fire, us a semi- prequel to Graceling  and occurs about 35 years before. Bitterblue, the third novel in the trilogy, is still in the works. Kristin received a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and recently moved from Jacksonville, Florida, to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair