Sunday 11 December 2011

Review: Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson

Princess Elisa is a disappointment to her people.  Although she bears the Godstone in her navel. a sign that she has been chosen for an act of heroism, they see her has lazy, useless and fat.

On her sixteenth birthday she is bartered off in royal marriage and shipped away to a kingdom in turmoil, where her much older and extremely beautiful husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife.  Devastated, Elisa decides to take charge of her fate and learn what it means to bear the Godstone.

As an invading army threatens to destroy her new home, and everyone at court manoeuvres to take advantage of the young princess, Elisa becomes convinced that not only is her own life in danger, but the whole world needs saving.  But how can a young girl who has never ridden on horseback, never played the game of politics, never attained the love of a man, save the world?  Elisa can't be sure, but she must try to uncover the Godstone's secret history before the enemy steals the destiny nestled in her core.

Fire and Thorns Series:
Fire and Thorns (Released in the US as The Girl of Fire and Thorns)
Crown of Embers (2012)
The Bitter Kingdom (2013)

Visit Rae Carson's website more information.

On her sixteenth birthday Princess Elisa must marry a complete stranger, Alejandro is the King of a far away kingdom and Elisa is taken to live with him in her new home.  She is expecting to be greeted as a Queen but her husband refuses to announce their marriage leaving Elisa confused and doubting everything she has been told.  Can Elisa find a place for herself in her new country?

Fire and Thorns is a fantastic debut with rich word building and strong characters.  Rae Carson takes you on a journey through dangerous jungles and across the harsh but beautiful desert, her writing is beautifully descriptive making it easy to picture your surroundings.  The story is one that draws you in from the first page and doesn't let you go until you've reached the end - this was definitely a read in one sitting book for me.

Elisa is a wonderful main character, she starts the story full of self doubt and with very little confidence, she is young and naive and it shows, but as the story progresses she blossoms into a confident and mature young woman.  Elisa is supported by a strong cast of characters, particularly ones that she meets in the second half of the book.  I was never a massive fan of Alejandro, he is too weak and indecisive for me, but I really liked Lord Hector and who could resist Humberto?

I have to give a slight spoiler warning here because there was just one thing that really bugged me about the story.  I was so pleased at the beginning of the book to finally read about an overweight heroine, that's something that you don't come across often enough in my opinion.  Elisa is a comfort eater and I found it so easy to relate to her as it's something I've done myself for years.  I had such high hopes as Elisa started to find her confidence and I even thought she was starting to win Alejandro's heart despite being overweight - finally I'm getting to read about a chubby heroine who wins the handsome boy's heart! - but unfortunately I was wrong.  As Elisa journeys through the desert she undergoes a dramatic transformation and arrives at her destination slim.  Now having undergone my own dramatic transformation this year (losing nearly 7 stone) I have to say that Elisa's feelings about her new figure were very realistic and I completely connected with the way she felt.  What I didn't like was the message that she had to lose weight to be worthy of her people, until her transformation she was looked down on by everyone and it wasn't until she'd lost weight that Alejandro really showed more than a passing friendly interest in her.  Perhaps I'm reading too much into it having struggled with my own weight issues for years but the whole thing made me feel uncomfortable and sad about what message this will give to teenagers with similar problems.  For once I'd have liked to have seen the fat girl get a happy ending without having to lose weight first.

Despite my issue with Elisa's weight loss I still think that Fire and Thorns is a wonderful debut, I was captivated from the beginning and didn't want the story to end.  The story is beautifully written, the plot is strong and full of shocking twists and turns and despite being the first in a trilogy the ending isn't a frustrating cliffhanger.  Yes it leaves you with questions and makes you keen to read the next book but it doesn't leave you screaming that you have to wait a whole year for answers.  I can't wait to see what happens to Elisa next and I'll be first in line to pick up a copy of Crown of Embers next year.

Source: Received from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. I loved this book so much - I will fight you to the front of the queue for Crown of Embers! :-)

  2. LOL Mel, hopefully they'll have enough copies for both of us :o) It was such a good book wasn't it!



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