Katsa, the protagonist of Graceling, is gifted with extraordinary power. Because of this power, she lives in a position of unusual difficulty. Almost everyone who has ever met her fears her. Her king fears her too, but he considers her his personal property and uses her as a tool for killing and torturing his enemies. Because of this, Katsa has always believed that she is a cruel monster. At the beginning of the novel, she is wild and ruthless—hence the nickname Po gives her, “wildcat.”

Katsa spends much of the story learning how to respond to friendship and kindness. As she grows as a person, she also grows to understand her Grace. She stops believing she is the monster people thought she was when she lived in Randa’s court. She begins to realize that her powers extend beyond killing and fighting. She realizes she is Graced with survival.

When Katsa leaves Randa’s court, she gains control over her own life, but she immediately falls in love with Po. For her, this is another source of conflict. She has always craved freedom, and now that she has a chance to live freely she refuses to step into the confinement of marriage and motherhood. Katsa and Po become lovers, but she does not waver from her belief that marriage is incompatible with freedom.

King Randa

Randa is the kind of ruler who thinks far more about maintaining and expanding his power than he does about helping the people under his command. To this end, he uses Katsa as a tool for brutality, to keep people afraid of him. He keeps Katsa under his control by making her feel stupid and brutish.


Before Po comes into her life, Katsa has only one good friend: Raffin, King Randa’s son. Unlike his father, Raffin is mild mannered and kind. He spends his time studying medicine, not amassing power. Katsa often reflects that her kingdom will be healthier and happier when Raffin becomes king. However, Raffin’s father does not respect him. Raffin has little influence on the events of his kingdom except through his work with the Council.

Oll, Helda, and Giddon

Oll, Helda, and Giddon are Katsa’s allies. Oll, King Randa’s spymaster, has helped train Katsa to control her power so that she does...

(The entire section is 945 words.)