Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)



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... (Summary and cover courtesy of


This was a 3.5 star book for me, and it left me with some mixed feelings overall.  When I read it the first time, I was so annoyed with the ending that I decided I was done and the promptly continued reading the series because I was hoping the next two books in the “series” might settle some of my need for a story wrapped with a bow at the end.   That did not happen.  Please be aware that the following two books in the series are in the Graceling REALM, but do not continue the story of Katsa and Po.  I was very upset by this, however that is a personal problem.

The premise, the adventure and how everything unfolded I absolutely loved.  But the tendency to bludgeon the reader with feminist tendencies felt a little over-done.  Don’t get me wrong, because I LOVE baddass heroines.  In fact, I insist on it.  HOWEVER, the over-explanation of why the characters made certain decisions etc felt a bit forced to me.  If I had read the book when I was actually a young adult, however, I could see how this might be revolutionary in my mind.  I’m not sure.  The “Alanna” series certainly did have that effect on me in many ways.

All that aside, I really enjoyed the story and I think this was a strong book, but the pacing on top of my other hesitations kept me from an enthusiastic 5 stars.

Warning: Contains violence and reference to sexual activity.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Traditional fantasy fans who like strong female leads.

Want to read the whole series?

  • Fire (Graceling Realm #2)
  • Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3)