Graceling Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

If you have a class or reading group that enjoys fantasy, try reading Kristin Cashore's 'Graceling.' Then guide your students through Cashore's magical world using these questions about the story, literary elements, and personal response.


Kristin Cashore's novel Graceling is set in a world where some individuals have special talents, called Graces, that set them apart from their peers. Katsa, Graced with survival skills, breaks free from her oppressive uncle and sets off on a mission to uncover the truth and save a princess. On the way, she faces incredible odds and learns much about herself. This coming of age story contains elements of both novelty and honesty that make it appealing to a middle or high school audience. After reading it with your class, use these discussion questions to further explore the novel.

Questions About the Story

  • What motivates Randa's use of Katsa's Grace?
  • How does Katsa rebel against her uncle? When is rebellion appropriate, and when is it inappropriate? What forms can rebellion take?
  • What clues are present early on as to the true nature of Po's Grace?
  • How did Katsa leave her uncle's court? What could she have done differently? Who benefited and who experienced loss when Katsa left?
  • What did you think when Katsa's true Grace was revealed?
  • What role do Po's culture and customs play in the story?
  • Why is Leck's Grace dangerous?
  • If you were Katsa, would you forgive Po for hiding his Grace?
  • How do you think learning of Leck's deception affected the people of his kingdom?
  • What do you think will happen when Katsa confronts Rand again?
  • What challenges will Bitterblue face as a ruler?
  • Po gives Katsa his ring without explanation. How would you feel if you were put in a similar situation?

Questions About Literary Elements

  • How does Po and Katsa's first meeting foreshadow their future relationship?
  • How does Graceling deal with the theme of gender roles and relationships? Do you find the author's treatment of gender and relationships to be positive, negative, or surprising? In what ways?
  • Heroism is a popular literary theme. What contrasting views of heroism appear in this novel? How do these views of heroism compare to books you've read recently, and to your view of heroism?
  • Why do you think the author included so much detail about Katsa and Bitterblue's crossing the mountain pass? How does that event affect the rest of the story?
  • What character do you most relate to? Which character do you find to be most frustrating? Why?

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