[review] Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Already read it? Check out the discussion post here!

Katsa, niece of one of the seven kings of the Seven Kingdoms, is Graced with the ability to kill. It’s a heavy Grace to bear for anyone in a land where the Graced are feared and scorned, but especially for a woman. Trapped in the role of her uncle’s attack dog, Katsa doesn’t know who she hates more: her uncle or herself.

Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms, #1)

This book is officially one of my favourite books ever, and I will be recommending it forever to anyone who ever asks me for a book recommendation. This is the book I’ve been searching for, and when I read it I felt as if I were slipping into all of my thoughts and fears and hopes in book form, and I want to shove it into the hands of everyone so that they can understand what I’ve been feeling all these years but unable to vocalize.

Katsa immediately jumped onto my list of greatest heroines of all time. She has a lot of qualities that people consider to be “masculine,” namely the ability to fight really well, to hunt, and to successful accomplish all-around physical things, but she is not a masculine character, and I don’t just mean that she’s got the physical girl parts. Katsa (and Po) blur modern gender lines proving that in the end we’re all just human.

What I especially like about Graceling is that none of the controversial statement stuff is thrown in your face. Katsa doesn’t want to get married or have children, and that is a part of her character, but the story doesn’t feel all “LOOK AT ME I’M BEING FEMINIST!” Instead it’s all like “hey, there are people who feel this way and that’s normal even though there are those that think it’s not and you don’t have to be that way, but you can if you want.” Pretty sure that Prince Raffin is gay, but again the reader doesn’t feel as if they’re being forced to confront this issue: it’s just something that exists. Graceling is first and foremost a story, and the themes blend perfectly with that story.

 The story itself is pretty excellent. There are several key events that in so many other books would mean that it would need to be split into some kind of trilogy with a bunch of filler. Graceling has no filler. I was never bored. I never questioned why a certain scene or dialogue had to exist. I was able to sit back and read and enjoy myself. When I had about 300 pages left I knew that it wasn’t going to be enough, and I was right. Given the chance, I would read that book forever.

And of course, my review would not be complete if I didn’t mention Po. I never thought I could fall in love with a character named Po, but I have. So hard. I need Po to exist. I can’t even explain how much I need Po to exist. His relationship with Katsa is my absolute favourite relationship ever because they are complete equals. Different, but equal. And I don’t understand why all YA relationships aren’t like Po and Katsa’s.

Dear Po,

Please, please, please, please be real. I want to spend every day talking with you and walking with you and just being around you. You can bring Katsa. Actually, please do. Please let me be both of your friends. Or at least your acquaintances. I would settle for anything really.


Coffee & Wizards

Books with similar aspects

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

First Test by Tamora Pierce

(just…just read Tamora Pierce if you like Kristin Cashore, okay?)

recommended to everyone.

not recommended to …like I guess those under age…thirteen. Fourteen maybe. But once they reach that age/maturity level, they need to read it.

Don’t just take my word for it!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore exudes awesome. It just pours off of each and every single page.” –April @Good Books and Good Wine

“First thought I had about Cashore’s work? ‘Why haven’t I read these books yet?'” – Jen@Almost Grown-up

“I loved all the characters. Katsa was a strong, modern, empathetic heroine. Her flaws were both frustrating and endearing.” –Lauren@Hughes Reviews

“I would definitely call this a must-read for fans of the YA fantasy genre.” – Marissa Meyer

Did I miss your review? Link me and I’ll add yours! Add me on goodreads (be sure to let me know in the comments that you’ve added me) to have your reviews linked automatically.

About megtao

Student. Writer. Nerdfighter. Fights for love, justice, and awesome.
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22 Responses to [review] Graceling by Kristin Cashore

  1. If Po was real…he would be MIIIIINE! Just sayin’.

  2. Samantha says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this book for so long. I really need to try and see if my new favourite bookshop (which amazingly has a wide selection of YA, YAY!) has it.

  3. I think I told you this before, but I tried listening to this a few weeks ago. I didn’t like the audio book, which reinforces my idea that I can’t listen to fantasy, but I REALLY want to read it. I love fantasy and I think I’d really like this one, especially knowing that it’s feminist without being IN YOUR FACE. Love the review, as usual!

    • megtao says:


      Yeah, I think it’s really hard to find good audiobooks. I mean, if it doesn’t have something that pushes it above and beyond a physical copy of the book, I do not want to listen to it.

  4. Graceling is one of my favorite books EVER. Fantasy, YA, doesn’t matter. One of my favorites ever. It was one of the first YA books I ever read and it was like a gateway drug. Katsa and Po are AMAZING. I can’t wait to see what you think of Fire!

  5. This book is currently in the mail making its way to me. I want to read it now!

  6. I have had this book on my shelf for the last two years and have let just about every one of my book-loving friends borrow it, but I STILL haven’t read it myself. Book blogger fail, right?

  7. Alison says:

    Awesome review! I too loved this book. It’s just SO good.

  8. girlwithabook says:

    I love Tamora Pierce and have been looking for an author that is similar to her. Thanks for the review and the recommendation.

  9. Man, I need to read WAY MORE TAMORA PIERCE, like I’ve only read Alanna -shame-.

    It warms the cockles of my heart reading about how much you loved Graceling. I think one of the best things about it is that even though it’s a series, it stands alone perfectly. Like you get an actual resolution with the book. I mean, Fire and Bitterblue are companion novels, but still, I just love that resolution feeling.

    • megtao says:


      Yes, I agree completely! It’s one of the reasons why I have no idea what to expect from Fire or Bitterblue.

  10. I like Graceling! I thought it was well-written, and I loved the premise of it! I love your review!

  11. I especially loved Cashore’s world-building. The idea of graces and having different colored eyes was believable and unique and had such fascinating possibilities. The dynamics of the world and kingdoms was interesting and I remember the atmosphere of different settings being so distinct.

    I really want to re-read this book because it’s been so long and it was really excellent. I only have a few friends I can recommend fantasy too… sad face. But I’ve definitely recommended it to anyone who is open to fantasy and wants to see YA fantasy done right!

    And I love your letters to characters 🙂 I totally LOVED Po. Loved him. Loved him. Loved him.
    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

    • megtao says:

      The world building really was great!

      I need to start doing the letters again, but I haven’t had a whole lot of swoon-worthy characters recently, though my review of Fire goes up tomorrow… couldn’t write a letter because I couldn’t choose between characters and didn’t want to add spoilers… >_>

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