Book Review: Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Trilogy

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change, or about the terrible secret that lies hidden far away…a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Rating: Four Stars.
A great blend of adventure, mystery and romance (recommended for fans of Rae Carson) that kept me glued to the page. Katsa is a strong, complicated heroine and her relationship with Po was far from ordinary or adolescent.
I was impressed by the fact that Cashore didn’t go for the most obvious plot twists.

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Fire by Kristin Cashore (Prequel to Graceling)

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords build armies to unseat him. Fire is the last remaining human monster, equally hated and adored, she has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people.
Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City. The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power could save the kingdom, if only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.


My Rating: Five Stars.
This book captured my whole imagination. The story was more ambitious than Graceling and I preferred the romance in this novel as it had a slower build.
The fantasy elements were amazing, I loved the descriptions of King City and colourful monsters. (This trilogy deserves to be shelved in Fantasy not YA.)
I think I must have a very similar sense of humour to Cashore because I grinned a lot while reading this.

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Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Sequel to Graceling)

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened.
But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle to walk the streets of her own city, she meets two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, and who will change her life forever. Both hold information concerning the truth of Leck’s reign and one, the key to her heart.


My Rating: Five Stars.
It was great to see characters from the two previous novels once more, especially Katsa and Po. How do I feel about Cashore’s characters? Attached, as in I seriously hope she reconsiders the ‘trilogy’ idea and produces a fourth book, attached.
I really liked Bitterblue; she’s smart, kind, queenly and brave. I kept pausing to underline passages while reading. Saf was a wonderful ‘hero’ (he was PERFECT) and I am praying for a ‘five years later’ novella to appear one day.

Each book was better than the last… The fact that all three novels had endings to suit their characters, not characters to suit their endings, was a both a source of satisfaction and disappointment.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Trilogy

    • You should! I absolutely loved this trilogy, although Graceling was probably my least favourite of the three. I don’t read much fantasy, so like you, it took me a while to try these despite all the hype – crazy, I should have read them much sooner!

  1. I agree with your thoughts of this series! This has got to be one of my all time-favorite series ever, honestly. I enjoyed the romance better in Fire than Graceling, because like you said, there’s a slower build-up. And the awesome monster descriptions just totally blew my mind. I enjoyed how everything wrapped up in Bitterblue, although that one was my least favorite of the series. Saf was most definitely totally awesome!

    Lovely reviews! ❤

  2. Lovely review! I like the way you review the whole series and even though your reviews are short, they revealed many things. I’m definitely going to pick up the series soon. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I really enjoyed Graceling but couldn’t get into Fire for some reason. I own all of them as audiobook and the narration is really good.

    In glad these worked for you, lovely reviews! <33

  4. I have only read Graceling – but it’s fantastic to know that the sequels are better. I gave Graceling four stars as well. Great review! I see that you are currently reading A Really Awesome Mess, I really liked it – hope you do too!

  5. I totally agree! I was surprised at some of the reasoning behind the criticism in these books (i.e. Katsa is anti-marriage and that’s promoting bad ideals, Fire didn’t have the characters everyone wanted, etc.) I LOVED this whole trilogy! And I really, really want a 5 years later book (or novella) for Bitterblue! I’d love if Cashore took this in a sort of Tamora Pierce way and just explored the world. I know I love her characters, so if we get new ones and the old ones just sort of pop in here and there, I’d be perfectly happy with just that!

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