Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Title:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns
(Fire and Thorns #1)
Author:  Rae Carson
Pages:  424
Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books
Obtained:  Library
Summary:  Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king--a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn't die young.

Most of the chosen do.

The Dish:  Princess Lucero-Elisa does not believe she is the one who should bear the Godstone, the gift bestowed upon God's chosen once every one hundred years.  She's not good with royal politics, she's not graceful or lithe, and she's terrified of horses (her only true flaw in my opinion).  While she believes her elder sister would be a more suitable bearer of the Godstone as well as a more suitable match for King Alejandro of her country's ally, it is Elisa who is led down the aisle in a marriage that any self-doubting sixteen-year-old girl would hesitate to enter.

These reasons are why she is one of the most amazing fantasy heroines.  Elisa knows her flaws, or at least what she thinks of as flaws, and she doubts herself constantly throughout the story, but she keeps moving forward despite having these reservations about herself.  One could say this is due to those around her that offer support and belief in her, but it is also Elisa's own determination to rise to the task of bearing the Godstone that makes her such a remarkable heroine.

Rae Carson created and brought to life amazing and life-like supporting characters, and I say "supporting" both in the casting sense and in what they do to help Elisa find her path to grow.  Starting with Ximena and Aneaxi, Elisa's nurse and lady-in-waiting, they have been there for the princess ever since she was a baby.  Then, there is the stoic Hector, King Alejandro's man-at-arms, who proved to be a great councilor to Elisa sometimes without even speaking.  The desert escorts were by far some of the most earnest characters from the unreadable Cosme to her brother, Humberto, who became devoted to Elisa.  The two that I'm awaiting to learn more about are Ximena and Hector, both of which give me the impression that there is far more to their story than we've heard thus far.

While The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a rather lengthy book, the story didn't feel as such.  Between the transitions for Elisa going from one realm to another, the pace was energetic, and I certainly felt the energy flowing from the pages.  Carson's writing has an amazing use of description without going into a tangent, and this makes the reader aware of Elisa's ability to notice the details that are often missed.

Those who are destined for greatness will not often find it while in the comforts of the familiar.  No one knows that more than Lucero-Elisa, bearer of the Godstone and hope for her people.  I can't wait to read the continuation of Elisa's story, so look for The Crown of Embers on September 18th!

Book 5


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