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Cover image for Graceling



Publication Information:
Orlando, FL : Harcourt, ©2008 (Printed in the United States of America)
Physical Description:
471 pages : maps ; 21 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
General Note:
Companion book to Fire.

"Designed by Cathy Riggs ; Maps by Jeffery C. Mathison"--Title page verso.
The lady killer -- The twisted king -- The shifting world.
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.
Reading Level:
"Ages 14 and up"--Jacket.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning UG 5.3 18.

Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.3 18.0 124842.

Reading Counts RC High School 4.5 26 Quiz: 45367.
Added Corporate Author:


Call Number
TEEN Cashore, K.

On Order



Discover the Graceling Realm in this unforgettable, award-winning novel from bestselling author Kristin Cashore

A New York Times bestseller
ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature Winner
Publishers Weekly , School Library Journal, Booklist, and BCCB Best Book of the Year

"Rageful, exhilarating, wistful in turns" ( The New York Times Book Review) with "a knee weakening romance" ( LA Times ). Graceling is a thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure that will resonate deeply with anyone trying to find their way in the world.

Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, who is smart and beautiful and lives in the Seven Kingdoms where selected people are born with a Grace, a special talent that can be anything at all. Katsa's Grace is killing. As the king's niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his brutal enforcer. Until the day she meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, and Katsa's life begins 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 . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone .

And don't miss the sequel Fire and companion Bitterblue , both award-winning, New York Times bestsellers, and full of Kristin Cashore's elegant, evocative prose and unforgettable characters.

Author Notes

KRISTIN CASHORE has written for The Horn Book Guide, The Looking Glass: An Online Children's Literature Journal, and Children's Literature in Education . She received a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College. Graceling is Ms.Cashore's first novel. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Starred Review. In a land of seven kingdoms, people with special talents, called Gracelings, are identified by their eyes--Katsa's are green and blue, one of each--although she's eight before her specific Grace is identified as a talent for killing. (While in the court of her uncle, King Randa, she swiped at a man attempting to grope her and struck him dead.) By 18 she's King Randa's henchwoman, dispatched to knock heads and lop off appendages when subjects disobey, but she hates the job. As an antidote, she leads a secret council whose members work against corrupt power, and in this role, while rescuing a kidnapped royal, she meets the silver-and-gold-eyed Po, the Graced seventh son of the Lienid king. That these two are destined to be lovers is obvious, though beautiful, defiant Katsa convincingly claims no man will control her. Their exquisitely drawn romance (the sex is offstage) will slake the thirst of Twilight fans, but one measure of this novel's achievements lies in its broad appeal. Tamora Pierce fans will embrace the take-charge heroine; there's also enough political intrigue to recommend it to readers of Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia trilogy. And while adult readers, too, will enjoy the author's originality, the writing is perfectly pitched at teens struggling to put their own talents to good use. With this riveting debut, Cashore has set the bar exceedingly high. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Read by David Baker and a full cast. (Middle School, High School)In the Seven Kingdoms, an exceptional few are burdened with gifts that brand them as Gracelings. This lush world is the perfect backdrop for the complex interplay of a full cast of voices, each ideally suited to their roles. Director Todd Hobin composed an evocative musical score that sets the stage and presents a sweeping panorama through aural imagery. David Baker voices the narration with a gravitas that provides a firm foundation for the fantasy world. As Lady Katsa, Chelsea Mixon projects an utterly natural range of emotions that reveal Katsa's efforts to reconcile her Grace for killing with her quest for social justice; Zachary Exton, as Prince Po, serves as Katsa's sharp-witted foil through high adventure and romantic sparring, his balanced tones touched with an edge of mystery as listeners decipher the limits of his Grace. Both Mixon's and Exton's authentically teen voices forge a strong connection to young adults struggling with issues of identity and responsibility. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

An assured fantasy debut grapples with questions of identity, authenticity and autonomy. Lady Katsa is a Graceling, with an inborn magical gift marking her as both feared outcast and exploitable resource. While her peculiar Gracethe unsurpassed ability to killhas been honed over the years by her uncle the king to bully and punish, Katsa has also secretly used it to bring a measure of justice to the Seven Kingdoms. When she encounters a strange prince whose mysterious Grace may just be a match for her own, she learns the corrosive seduction of power corrupted, but also the courage to trust othersand herself. Katsa is an ideal adolescent heroine, simultaneously confident of her strengths yet unsure of her place in the world. Every character is crafted with the same meticulous devotion to human comprehensibility, making the villain all the more appalling in his understated, twisted madness. In a tale filled with graphic violence and subtle heartbreak, gentle passion and savage kindness, matter-of-fact heroics and bleak beauty, no defeat is ever total and no triumph comes without cost. Grace-full, in every sense. (Fantasy. YA) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Highly acclaimed around the world, Cashore's fantasy centers on gracelings, gifted beings who use their supernatural abilities for both good and evil. Katsa, an unusually strong fighter, has been controlled by her uncle, rey Randa, who manipulates Katsa to intimidate and even kill others. Then Katsa meets Po, a young prince, whose special gifts and friendship convince her to use her fighting skills for better purposes. The fast action, convincing protagonists, and intriguing domains create an engrossing read.--Schon, Isabel Copyright 2009 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

"THE MAZE OF BONES," which sends a pair of likable orphans on a world-spanning treasure hunt, displays a glossy, tightly engineered appeal. The book is the first installment of "The 39 Clues," a multimedia extravaganza that combines a 10-book series, collectible playing cards, online puzzles and a contest with more than $100,000 in prizes. Scholastic may be hoping to recapture some of the Harry Potter demographic, by force if necessary: the press kit announces a first printing of a million copies worldwide, a multimillion-dollar marketing blitz and a "grassroots blogging campaign"; Steven Spielberg is poised to bring out a film version. There is, yes, also a book involved. The premise of "The Maze of Bones" is dramatic and instantly engaging: Amy and Dan Cahill are orphans, brother and sister, neglected by their many rich relations. When their beloved grandmother dies, she leaves her descendants an unorthodox will: either accept a bank voucher worth $1 million, or else, "you shall be given the first of 39 clues. These clues will lead you to a secret, which, should you find it, will make you the most powerful, influential human beings on the planet." Amy and Dan opt for the clues, pitting themselves against a cast of relatives who range from obnoxious to menacing to merely skeevy. Adventures, travel and hairbreadth escapes follow, interspersed with the odd historical anecdote, as we learn that every single famous or influential person of the past few centuries has been a member of the Cahill family. Rick Riordan, who wrote the first book and has planned the 10-book arc, is the best-selling author of both adult and young adult mysteries. The story is an almost note-perfect blend of "Harry Potter" (orphans! special families!) and "The Da Vinci Code" (puzzles! history!), with a dash of "Great Expectations," although where Pip's expectations lead him to a bittersweet grown-up wisdom, I have a hunch the Cahill orphans will be getting something much nicer. Bookish Amy and hyperactive Dan are agreeably flawed characters but have an undeniably focus-grouped, manufactured quality - as does, let's face it, the whole book. The supporting cast is, with few exceptions, made up of types: sinister spies, bullies, snobs and self-involved celebrities. I found myself wishing for a little of the psychologically resonant darkness or moral ambiguity of a Roald Dahl or Maurice Sendak, authors who showed that books written for children don't have to be entirely child-safe. When the book tells us that Dan loved his grandmother because "she'd treated him and Amy like real people, not kids," we hear what's wrong. The writing is carefully bland, as if it didn't trust its readers enough. "The Maze of Bones" is only the beginning of an elaborate online game that will unfold over the next few years. Each of the first 10 books is projected to reveal one clue per title; the other 29 will come from solving online-only puzzles. The entry-point is an elaborate Web site (www.the39clues.com), which offers games, blogs written by characters and pages of additional lore about the Cahills. Each visitor is invited to take the role of a member of the Cahill family searching for the titular clues (competing against the books' heroes, but c'est la guerre). The secondary revenue stream - excuse me, series of collectable cards - unlocks more content and more puzzles, leading players into the larger-scale contest to solve the mystery behind all 39 clues; if they manage that, they'll get a chance at a $10,000 grand prize. The puzzles themselves follow serviceable but shopworn formulas: anagrams and numbers-to-letters codes, interspersed with unremarkable arcade-style games. I was hoping for a chance to play detective, to use my powers of observation and deduction to arrive at the brilliant solution to a dark and obscure mystery. Instead, it was a matter of doing a little arithmetic and clicking the mouse enough times. After passing four or five simple challenges, I was awarded my clue in the form of a short video presentation. There are, however, hints that the creators are building a more profound play experience modeled on the emerging genre of alternate reality games - online games in which thousands of players solve a sprawling mystery together, finding clues hidden in places like dummy Web sites and recorded phone messages. The players share information and create theories to explain what they've seen. (I Love Bees and Perplex City are seminal examples of the form.) It will be hard for "The 39 Clues" to reproduce this effect, partly because safety restrictions forbid players from communicating directly through the Web site. More important, the puzzles offer relatively little scope for using your creativity - to solve problems your own way or add your own stories to the larger matrix. It's still early in the process, though, and there are hints that as the game evolves, participants will encounter a more layered mystery to unravel. Much depends on building an enthusiastic fan base of players who will add their own imagination to the experience. To me, "The Maze of Bones" feels too calculated to invest in wholeheartedly, too eager to please. It's a story about people born into the most privileged family in the world, who then set out to become the most important people in history. Whatever happened to just owning your own chocolate factory? 'The Maze of Bones' is only the beginning of a sprawling online game slated for the next few years. Austin Grossman is the author of "Soon I Will Be Invincible," a novel.