“Graceling” by Kristen Cashore: A Companion Trilogy

Are you a fantasy fanatic looking for a new book series? “Graceling” by Kristen Cashore explores a Tolkien-like world filled with unforgettable characters and an unbelievable plot.

“Graceling” is a book that is part of a trilogy. Each novel focuses on different characters living in the same world. “Graceling” was the first book published in this series and was later followed by Fire and then Bitterblue. However, the chronological order of these books does not follow the publishing order. Chronologically, “Fire” would take place first, “Graceling” would take place 40-50 years down the road and “Bitterblue” would conclude the series around eight years after the end of “Graceling”. The interesting world, unique characters, intertwining plots, and unconventional timeline make this trilogy entertaining and engaging.

“Graceling” follows Katsa, the niece to one of the seven kings of the seven kingdoms. Katsa is considered a Graceling, someone born with two different colored eyes. Each Graceling is born with a specific Grace, whether it be dancing, cooking, hand-to-hand combat, or in Katsa’s case, killing. Once Katsa’s Grace becomes clear to her uncle, the king, she is forced to hone her skills in order to serve the kingdom. However, Katsa doesn’t appreciate being ordered around, especially by her uncle. She helps create an underground society called the Council. The Council’s purpose is to help the citizens of the kingdom in any way possible, which means that they often undermine the king.

Katsa is learning to live with her despised Grace and is doing as well as can be imagined until she rescues another Graceling while on a mission from the Council. The former prisoner, Po, turns out to be a prince of Linead, one of the seven kingdoms. One eye silver and the other gold, Po unnerves Katsa from the moment she lays eyes on him. Filled with plot twists, revelations, and a secret that could destroy the seven kingdoms, “Graceling” will have you hooked immediately and flipping through pages so fast you will begin to wonder if you are graced with speed reading.

“Fire” is the second novel in this trilogy and follows a girl named, you guessed it, Fire. Fire lives in a mountainous land called Dells located next to the seven kingdoms. While the seven kingdoms are filled with Gracelings, Dells contains creatures called Monsters. Fire is the one of these deadly and beautiful creatures, so she is in constant danger of being killed. Monsters can control anyone with their beauty and their minds. Each species has a Monster counterpart such as bunnies, dogs, wolves, and in Fire’s case, humans. Fire is the last surviving human Monster and can control everyone she meets, with the exception of one character- Prince Brigan.

“Bitterblue” is the final companion novel that connects the two previous books while introducing a new plot line. Without giving away too much, Bitterblue is a main character of “Graceling”. This book wraps up the series nicely and has character cameos throughout. It’s interesting to see old characters, like Fire and Katsa, through Bitterblue’s perspective. Overall, I would give this series four out of five stars. It is filled with dramatic quests, daring fights, and irresistible romance that is sure to capture your attention, and your heart. Thank you for reading and remember: don’t knock it ‘til you read it!