25 January 2010

Book Club - JAN - Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Book Discussion on January 27.

From that
author’s blog: Graceling is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms, and none moreso than Katsa, who's expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.

View the
Graceling book trailer!

Discussion questions can be found at:
How does Katsa describe her “nature” at the start of the novel? Does she believe she can alter this “nature”? Do you think her “nature” changes by the end of the novel?

The concept of a Grace plays an important role in the development of characters in Graceling. What is your definition of a Grace? If you could have a special Grace, what would it be? How would you use it in your current life?

Which type of Grace do you think is more powerful—one that is an enhancement of physical strengths or one that is an enhancement of mental strenghts?

What are the things Katsa fears the most? How do these fears affect her thoughts, actions, and behavior?

Gracelings are described as “outsiders” and “not normal.” If the skills of a Graceling are not helpful to the king then they are ostracized from their community. Why do the townspeople treat the Gracelings in this way?

How does Katsa’s understanding of friendship change throughout the story?

The Council is very important to Katsa. Why? What is the purpose and mission of the Council?

Prince Po’s grandfather, Prince Tealiff, tells Katsa that Po “sees the strength in beautiful things.” He explains that this is what makes Po different from his six brothers. How does Po’s appreciation of beauty influence his connection to people, animals, and nature? Is his perception of beauty changed in any way by the end of the novel?

Katsa is fiercely independent yet she is able to care deeply and love Po. Po is equally self-sufficient yet falls deeply in love with Katsa. How does the tension between being independent and being in love affect their relationship?

Katsa ponders the traditions of marriage and begins to imagine a more unconventional, yet long-lasting, relationship for herself and Po. Do you have any thoughts about the institution of marriage? Do you think alternatives to marriage exist for people in love?

In what ways do the contours of the landscape both help and hinder Katsa and Po in their attempt to save Bitterblue from King Leck?

Katsa learns that power throughout the Seven Kingdoms can be gained from a variety of sources. What are some of these sources? What opinions does Katsa have about people in positions of authority? Is she interested in having power or authority over others?

Katsa spends much of her daily life involved in combat and fighting. Describe how she feels about combat at the start of the novel. Do her opinions about being a skilled fighter change by the end of the story? How and why?

& at:
Describe Katsa’s Grace over the course of her life, when it is first discovered, how Randa uses it, how she is able to use it for Council, and how her perception of it changes when she travels with Po and later Bitterblue.

How does Po’s true Grace differ from what others believe it to be? Who knows of his true Grace? How does Katsa react to the truth of Po’s Grace, and ultimately how does his Grace compensate for his loss of sight?

What is King Leck’s Grace, and how is he able to use it to gain & keep a throne?

Explain the nature of Katsa’s relationship with each of these important characters: Raffin, Oll, Giddon, and Helda.

When Katsa and Bitterblue come across Leck at Po’s castle, how does he affect the two; and what ultimately allows Katsa to kill him?

What is the most useful Grace? What is the most dangerous Grace?

Snack ideas: berries, nuts/trail mix, beef jerky!