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File:GracelingCover 833.jpg


 "Does it lighten the burden of your Grace, to know you have beautiful eyes?"


Graceling is a fantasy Young Adult novel by first-time author Kristin Cashore. The heroine, Katsa, is "Graced" with the power to kill with her bare hands and is forced to utilize her Grace for her uncle King Randa's dirty work. Scorned and feared because of her Grace, Katsa remains relatively friendless and accepts the fact that people won't ever be comfortable or brave enough to look into her blue-and-green eyes. When she encounters a Graceling prince on one of her missions, Katsa has no idea how her life will begin to change...

It also has a Spin-Off, Fire (examples listed on its own, further down the page), taking place in the Dells, east of the original setting. The only character who shows up from Graceling is Leck. In the Dells, there are no Gracelings; instead, there are 'monsters', animals with oddly-colored fur, all of which are mind-bogglingly beautiful and can fuzz people's minds. Furthermore, predator monsters are particularly fond of other monsters. Yes, human monsters exist - or one still does: the titular Fire. Aside from getting hit hard with A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read and So Beautiful It's a Curse, and attracting predator monsters like nobody's business, she has an extra, nasty burden - her father Cansrel's legacy. Cansrel was a monster in more than the literal sense and ruled the kingdom through the old king. He also brought it to ruin. Fire is therefore hated and distrusted by All of the Other Reindeer, and her only friends are her horse, Small; her surrogate father Brocker; and her lover, Brocker's adoptive son, Archer. When Prince Brigan, brother of the current king, calls her to the capital to help the government (her monsterness gives her mind-control powers that she hates to use), Fire has a pretty good idea her life is going to change.

The trilogy has been rounded off now with the third book Bitterblue. Though a direct sequel to the first book, examples are also listed separately as they will contain spoilers to Graceling.

Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Katsa. Bitterblue is slowly heading towards this direction.
  • Aerith and Bob: Most of the characters, including royalty, have Medieval-sounding one or two syllable names: Katsa, Raffin, Faun, Leck, Oll, Skye, Helda, Randa, Ashen. But then there's Bitterblue and Greening Grandemalion (who goes by Po, but still)...
    • These last two are from the Kingdom of Leonid where most names are based on colours.
  • Attempted Rape: Katsa might've been raped by her older cousin when she was younger if she didn't, y'know, accidently kill him out of self-protection. Also this might've happened to Bitterblue if her mother didn't protect her from her psycho dad.
  • Always Save the Girl: Katsa hates this trope up to a point where she's uncomfortable being saved by anyone.
  • Anticlimax: Katsa's final battle with King Leck involves her killing him with one dagger thrown through his mouth.
  • Arranged Marriage: King Randa is trying to get Katsa into one of these to be rid of her. His son Prince Raffin is dreading this.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Bitterblue.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Averted. Katsa is so vehemently opposed to having babies (and marriage) that she refuses Po's affection for her at first.
  • Battle Couple: Katsa and Po, eventually.
  • Badass: Katsa and Po, considering how they use their Graces in combat.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Katsa admires Po this way at least once. Of course, after making sure he's really asleep of course.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT imply that Po is Katsa's "sensible keeper". Or anything of that sort.
  • Blessed with Suck: Po's ability to read minds and sense people really does suck since no one would trust him. For good reason.
    • If you're lucky and your Grace is useful to the king of whatever country you live in, you'll be kept at court. If you're unlucky, then you get sent home, where you'll most likely be ridiculed for your useless Grace. If you're really lucky, you live in Lienid, where the Gracelings are free and treated with something like respect.
  • Brainwashed: Anyone who meets King Leck, thanks to his Grace.
  • Blind Seer: Po becomes this. Well, he already had the Seer part down (sensing everyone's presence, reading minds), but he does lose his eyesight later on.
  • But You Screw One Goat!: Implied that King Leck does this to animals at his orphanage before brutally hacking them to bits.
    • YMMV on whether that was the implication, or if Leck simply liked hurting them.
  • Bullet Time: Why Po is so good at fighting.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Subverted. Katsa and Raffin were thinking of making one so Raffin could avoid an Arranged Marriage. They don't take it too seriously and laughed about it when they realized it would never work.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Prince Po's Grace equates to this in a fight.
  • Crapsack World: Sort of subverted. As long as you don't offend any of the kings and live as isolated as possible, you should be all right. Usually.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Katsa's real Grace: Survival. King Leck's Grace also qualifies, but he has no moral qualms about utilizing this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Katsa has traces of this earlier in the novel.
  • Decoy Protagonist: King Randa of the Decoy Villan variety.
  • Determinator: Katsa really wants to be the best at everything, whether it's from archery to just racing up the stairs.
    • There's also the bit where she crosses Grella's Pass with Bitterblue in the middle of a blizzard.
  • Differently-Powered Individual: The Gracelings.
  • Disability Superpower: What Po's Grace becomes.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Katsa comments about how Randa knows how to make her feel like a brutal dog. She then tells him how she will kill all of the hundreds of guards he has with him, along with Randa himself.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Po's real name is Greening Gandemallion.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone except Katsa knew that Giddon had a crush on Katsa. Oh, and that Katsa and Po liked each other.
  • Female Gaze: Katsa to Po a number of times.
  • Fighting From the Inside: Po and Bitterblue are pretty good at this. Katsa, not so much.
  • Freak-Out: Katsa has one when she realizes that she's in love with Po.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Katsa and Po.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Katsa, though she improves as the novel progresses.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Randa to Katsa.
  • Heroic BSOD: Po after he goes blind.
  • Hot Amazon: Katsa, once again.
  • Ho Yay: Raffin and Bann. According to Word of God, their canocity is her most frequently asked question.

 Katsa: I told him I'm not going to marry you and hang on to you like a barnacle, just to keep you to myself and stop you loving anyone else.

Po: It's all right, you know. Other people don't have to understand.

Katsa: I worry about it.

Po: Don't worry about it. We'll muddle through. And there are those who do understand. Raffin does. And Bann.

Katsa: Yes, I suppose they do.

  • Important Haircut: Strangely enough Bitterblue's haircut and not Katsa's. Bitterblue's haircut symbolizes she's no longer a pampered, sheltered princess. Katsa just found long hair annoying.
  • Kissing Cousins: See Childhood Marriage Promise up above.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: "The wild ones are most fun if you know how to control them."
  • La Résistance: Katsa's Council is a mild version of this. Or at least, they're too chicken to openly rebel against King Randa.
    • Yes, they're "too chicken" to risk destabilizing an entire kingdom, rendering it easy prey for the surrounding kingdoms and their tyrannical kings to waltz in and conquer.
    • And it's probably best that Middluns' neighbours don't know that the ones thwarting their attempts to oppress/extort the populace are from Middluns itself. Otherwise that neutrality will go straight out the window.
  • Lets Read: Here.
  • Love At First Punch: For Po at least. Actually, a big part of Katsa's and Po's relationship is centered on trying to punch each others' guts out. Being that both of them are accomplished fighters who revel in sparring matches, this is much less dysfunctional than it sounds.
  • Mass Hypnosis: Not only Leck's Kingdom, but everyone who personally meets King Leck. In fact, anyone who hears King Leck, and then talks to other people, who then talk to other people, taking this to Up to Eleven levels.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Mind readers are very unhappy people.
  • Mismatched Eyes: This is the Graceling indicator.
  • Oblivious to Love: Katsa, full stop. Not just to Po's love for her, but to her own love for Po.
  • One Person, One Power
  • Promotion to Love Interest: Happens to Po about halfway through the book.
  • Romantic False Lead: Poor, poor Giddon.
  • Running Gag: Katsa "abusing" her horses from overwork.
    • Probably also qualifies as Somewhere an Equestrian is Crying. Seriously, she rides her horses full tilt at night for hours because its 'only' five or six more leagues until they get home and she's too impatient to wait for morning. One of the other characters asks if she is still ruining the horses.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Randa gives Katsa a Hannibal Lecture when she refuses to obey him. She responds by telling him exactly how she'll kill every guard in the throne room and himself, before leaving.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Society's opinion of women.
  • Superpower Lottery: Graces can be anything from being good at climbing trees to dancing to mind reading.
  • Telepathy: Po's real grace. Note that it works only when people's thoughts are specifically focused on him.
  • The Smart Guy: Raffin
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Katsa has this attitude in mind though she's forced to kill plenty of people under her uncle's bidding at first.
  • Their First Time: Katsa and Po, once again.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Katsa is afraid of hers. Po has traces of this, too.
  • Walking the Earth: Katsa and Po end up doing this from Part II on.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Bitterblue. She even realizes that "Po was in a position to see Katsa naked" at 10 years old.
  • The Wise Prince: Raffin.
  • With My Hands Tied: While Katsa doesn't actually get tied up, she trains in order to counter a situation like this.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Bitterblue becomes this. Guessing from what Word of God says about the Bitterblue-focused sequel, this will bite her in the ass later.
  • World of Cardboard Speech: Katsa gives one to Randa during her Shut UP, Hannibal moment by detailing exactly how she could slaughter him and every one of the two hundred guards he has surrounding her.
  • Writer on Board: Katsa's beliefs on marriage and having children. Word of God even admits that some of her beliefs got transferred into the novel.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Raffin dyes his hair blue by accident.

The Spin-Off, Fire, provides examples of:

The final book in the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, Bitterblue, provides examples of:

  • Complete Monster: Leck. The story is about the Kingdom of Monsea recovering from his tyranical rule, normally this trope falls into YMMV but the following tropes detailing his acts leave no doubt.
  • Government Conspiracy: Bitterblue suspects there is one, her new friends are sure there is one.
  • Heroic Bastard: Bitterblue's half sister Hava saves her life a few times but is the only person to know they are related
  • Queen Incognito The plot is mostly kicked off by Bitterblue doing this.