Katsa lives in a world with seven kingdoms. She is a graceling, a person who is extremely gifted at a rare talent. You can tell who they are because their eyes are two different colors. Some people are graced in cooking, like King Randa’s chef, others can swim like fish. Katsa’s grace is killing! (Or so she thinks.) Her uncle, King Randa discovers this grace when she is just a small child. He raises her to become one of his thugs, causing pain and death to those who displease him. She fights back in her own way, creating a group that secretly helps people instead of hurts them.
During one of their missions she meets Prince Po, whose grace is not what everyone thinks. Together they discover one of the most beloved of the seven kings is more dangerous than anyone could have imagined.
Katsa is a brilliant and strong character. Finally, a strong female character teenage girls will like. Katsa is the anti-Bella. I just love her! (Ok, I liked Bella too, but for different reasons.) When Katsa learns the truth about her grace, her own self worth becomes transformed. It is great to watch her evolve.
I can’t wait to read the other two books Cashore is working on now. According to her blog, she is working on two books. Book 2 is called Fire, which is a prequel to Graceling. Book 3 is Bitterblue, which takes place in the future a number of years after Graceling. Bitterblue is such a cool name for a princess!
Ideas for discussing with teens:
1. Should the people who are graced be treated differently?
2. How does Katsa change when she discovers the truth about her grace?
3. If you could be graced, what talent would you choose and why?
4. Should Katsa marry Prince Po, based on the changes in her life? What do you think of their relationship?
5. Talk about the different traditions in Po’s culture. What do his rings and tatoos represent?
6. What do you think Katsa’s life would have been like if she were not graced in killing?