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Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson was released on September 20, 2011, in the U.S. in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in both formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, the print edition is 432 pages.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is the first book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson.

Goodreads description:

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 needs 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.

***

Very few are chosen to serve, to be the bearers of the Godstone. Even fewer know their purpose. But among those that do, many die while trying to fulfill their destiny.

Elisa wasn’t sure why she was chosen. She wasn’t the first-born, she wasn’t beautiful or graceful, she knew little of the world outside her home and she had doubts.

With the enemy closing in, destroying everything that lies in their wake, and drawing on a magic hidden within the earth that makes them nearly unstoppable, as the bearer, Elisa is the only hope.

But at just sixteen and the secret bride of King Alejandro, Elisa doesn’t know how to discover her purpose, defeat the enemy or become the leader her people so desperately need her to be.

Time is running out. And if she doesn’t find answers soon, not only will she be likely to meet the same fate as many of the chosen before her, but the lives of her people and those she loves will be lost.

***

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is an epic adventure that takes readers along on a journey with Elisa as she transforms from the timid and pampered princess she had been all her life to the courageous leader she was destined to become.

This incredibly imaginative tale is action-packed, danger-filled and edge-of-your-seat exciting. Author Rae Carson has created a story that is set in an exotic land with sweeping deserts and faraway kingdoms, where sorcery and magic exist and where once every century someone is chosen to fulfill their destiny.

And Elisa is the chosen one. But before she can discover her true purpose, before she even really knows herself, she is married off to a King as part of an exchange that will benefit both their kingdoms.

While she may not be ready to be a Queen at just sixteen, the choice is not hers to make. And as she sets out on the first of many journeys ahead of her, she quickly learns that life outside the palace walls is fraught with danger and that the decisions she will be forced to make are far more significant than any she’s had to make before. Decisions that will put her in harm’s way, decisions that may cost many their lives, but decisions that will ultimately help her discover her purpose.

Elisa is a surprising but immensely likable heroine. At first she is sweet and smart and sympathetic, but as she gets thrust into her new and dangerous life and tries to uncover the reason she was chosen as a bearer, she becomes a strong, passionate and courageous leader who brings hope and a fighting spirit to her people.

She is also very real and relatable and is filled with doubts about her faith and insecurities about herself. She is not arrogant because she is the chosen one, a princess or the wife of a King. And she does not immediately transform into a heroine and a leader, but slowly grows into one.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns has a little bit of everything to captivate readers – the thrill of danger with a new enemy at every turn, a looming battle, several perilous journeys through deadly territories, dark magic, a band of rebels, an unlikely heroine, a handsome king and a love story. All leading up to a final confrontation which will determine whether Elisa is truly ready to accept her destiny and in which not everyone will survive.

This first book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy is a must read for anyone who loves stories filled with adventure, stories of Kings and Queens, desert nomads, sorcery and magic, betrayal and hidden destiny.

Reviewer gives this book…

On a personal note:

I knew I’d fall in love with this book. I am such a sucker for adventure stories. Whenever a character heads out on a journey – preferably one with action, excitement and danger – I always want to go along. And I’m so glad I had a chance to go on this one.

In the two days that I took this journey with Elisa, I was transported to another land, to another time. This really was an epic adventure. There is just no better way to describe it.

As I read along, I felt as if I was walking those endless miles through the desert. I felt the blistering heat of the sun and the coldness as night fell. I felt Elisa’s pain as she pushed herself beyond exhaustion.

Every leg of the journey was perilous and left me breathless with anticipation about what terrible thing might happen next. Nothing was easy. Not one moment was risk-free. And every single page I read kept me transfixed.

I did not want to leave Elisa’s world. I loved watching her grow into the person she became at the story’s end. She went from being timid, weak and self-critical to someone who was strong and brave, and although not fearless, most definitely a leader.

I love stories that make you feel like you’ve been with the character forever. Ones where their journey spans such a long period of time that you feel like you’ve been a part of their life for just as long. This was absolutely one of those.

By the time I reached that last page, I felt like breaking away from Elisa’s world would be nearly impossible. I’m not exactly sure I’ve completely left there yet. I felt like I had been there for months, rather than just the few hours that I was actually with Elisa, Cosmé and Humberto.

And I wanted to go right back there, to find out what danger lurked on the horizon. What further heartbreak Elisa would have to endure. Because this book was heartbreaking. Elisa’s story was so completely sad that I might have cried just a little bit.

Of course I can’t talk about what left me heartbroken without giving huge pieces of this story away. But I still tear up when I think about what Elisa has lost and what she had to endure to become the person she needed to become. And while all these things made her stronger, it was still just so very sad.

This story talks a lot of purpose and service, belief and faith in God, and about being the chosen one, yet wasn’t focused on any one specific religion.

The elements of religion and spirituality that formed the basis for Elisa’s existence and her purpose seemed to take aspects from a number of religions and beliefs, which the author blended together to create this well-developed and imaginative belief system for the characters. And I found myself fascinated by just how detailed and interesting the author made this part of the story that could just as easily have been dry and uninteresting.

I am not quite ready to let go of this world, which reminded me of a story I read long ago, which also took me through the deserts with a character on a quest, chosen for greatness. I am ready to go back to Elisa’s world and see where the story takes her. I’m just sad that I’ll have to wait a year to do so.

***

To get a long look inside courtesy of the publisher, CLICK HERE.

Author Rae Carson talks about the book:

***

This review is based on a printed ARC I received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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