The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson
Original Publishing Date: September 11, 2011
Length: 423 pages
Obtained Via: Borrowed from the library
Format Read In: Library book
Purchase on Amazon:The Girl of Fire and Thorns
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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.
While reading this book, my thoughts towards it jumped all over the place. At times I liked it. Sometimes I LOVED it. And sometimes I was just too confused to know what to do with myself. All in all, though The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a really great high fantasy YA, a genre for which I have pretty high standards.
I was skeptical about this book at the beginning. Our main character, Elisa, has a Godstone in her navel, placed there at her birth. And yes, that is just as weird as it sounds, and no, it never becomes less weird the more I think about the story. The Godstones are significant–a living symbol of the divine and a powerful tool. The Godstone is a living thing, and Elisa uses it to guide her throughout the story. Now that, I could get behind. I mean, in a religious perspective, who wouldn’t want something that told them all the time what God’s will was, if your goal in life was to follow it?
And that’s another thing I thought was so interesting about The Girl of Fire and Thorns–the religion in the book. It’s not religious, but it does play a big role, and I thought the way Carson weaved religion in this story was so flawlessly done. It’s similar enough to theistic beliefs of our world, but it was incorporated in a way that had it’s own back story and it’s own legends behind it in the book.
In fact, the world-building in The Girl of Fire and Thorns in general was pretty perfect. There’s a lot of names and people and fighting, and I did lose track sometimes, but I never lost belief in the world. The fighting and the stakes felt real, which is something I always look for in a high fantasy novel. I learned early on that no one in this book was safe, and as sadistic of a reader that may make me, I like that. I need to feel that the main character and the secondary characters I love are in real danger to keep me interested in a story like this, and Carson does that well.
Elisa is. . . well, I’m not quite sure how I feel about her. She’s real and raw, and I appreciate that. I do feel her character growth was a little sudden at times. While I was all for some character growth and for Elisa to really come into her own and start being as awesome as she could be, it did feel like quite a quick transformation. However, the book does mention that quite a bit of time passes in just a few sentences, so I guess her character change isn’t as sudden as it seems. As a reader, though, I would have liked just a little more development in that section. That being said, I LOVE the person Elisa was at the end of this book. She was still real, raw, and flawed, but she also became the character you root for and say something like “You go, girl!”
The only other minor thing even worth mentioning is that the plot of this book wasn’t my favorite, but I think that was more of a personal thing. Warring sections and alliances and such aren’t my favorites, but I can’t deny they were well done. I’m still so shocked that at the time of writing, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was Carson’s debut novel. While the writing itself blows me away, I don’t think I ever would have guessed this was a first novel, which is quite an accomplishment. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy the rest of the trilogy even more.
A few minor complains–Elisa’s sudden character growth and a bit of pacing on the part of the plot–didn’t deter me from REALLY enjoying The Girl of Fire and Thorns. High fantasy is a HARD genre to please me in, and this book gets a full round of applause for being so entertaining and for making me excited to read the rest of the trilogy. And as sudden as I may have found Elisa’s character growth, I can’t deny by the end she was one of my favorite characters. 4/5 cupcakes.