August 11, 2021 7:34 AM EDT

Most people are scared of Katsa. In her land of the Seven Kingdoms, a rare few are born with special powers known as “graces,” signified by their two different colored eyes. And Katsa’s grace? She’s great at killing people. Employed by her uncle, King Randa, to torture and execute those who’ve crossed him, Katsa lives an isolated life while also secretly running a council to defend the innocent throughout the country. After a council mission introduces her to the also-graced Prince Po—the first person she’s met who actually rivals her combat abilities—Katsa is thrown into a quest to find out who kidnapped the prince’s grandfather. Kristin Cashore’s debut novel draws readers into an epic adventure with robust worldbuilding, weaving compelling characters and a complex love story replete with lessons on politics and justice. Listed as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year in 2008, Graceling launched a prequel and two sequels. —Madeleine Carlisle

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