"A smart, complex fantasy with stellar characters... Carson's mature writing style, thoughtful storytelling, appealing characters and surprising twists add up to a page-turner with broad appeal." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A delicious debut." Paolo Bacigalupi, Printz Award-winning author of Ship Breaker
“Distinctive for its luminous prose, its hint of romance, and Elisa, a strong, smart heroine that readers will truly fall in love with.” (Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief )
“Set in intrigue-filled courts, battlefields, and windswept deserts, this riveting fantasy tests its heroine’s limits as she struggles to fulfill a destiny wrapped in an ancient mystery. A breathtaking adventure in a fascinating, richly-drawn world.” (Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood )
“I stayed up until 2AM reading this last night. Intense, unique. . . . Definitely recommended.” (Veronica Roth, author of the best-selling Divergent )
“I LOVED this book! It’s a transformation story that both teens and adults can believe in. Rae Carson has delivered a unique magical system and built a world with strong series potential.” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of best-selling The Exiled Queen )
From the Back Cover
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, and 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 her to be 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’ssavior, 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.
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Elisa is one of the best fantasy characters I've read in a long time. She starts out this novel at a low place. She's fat, lonely, and undervalued. At least she thinks she's these things. Elisa was born with a great gift: the godstone - a stone embedded in her navel - only one person receives this gift each century and each is endowed with some great, unknown duty. For a girl who holds a position even higher than the princess she was born as, she sure is underappreciated. No one thinks anything of Elisa. Even her beloved nanny coddles and overprotects her. Her family is tough on her. Her new husband is embarrassed by her. Elisa's only friend is food. While it's difficult to see a nice, smart girl constantly berate herself and use food as a form of comfort, the author did a fabulous job of making Elisa relatable. I cared about her and understood why she felt so horribly about herself.
All this changes when Elisa is kidnapped. In fact, the entire book changes. It goes from being a slow, somewhat depressing novel, to being a action-packed, girl-power thriller. Elisa undergoes tremendous physical and mental change as she walks through the desert for days with her captors. Read more ›
It would honestly be hard for me to categorize this as a 'young adult'. If this had been written in the 90's then it may very well have been shelved with the mainstream fantasy books despite the narrator, Elisa's, age of 16. Carson questions the nature of love (familial, first love and enduring love), religion (faith, doubt, belief) and duty (to one's self, to one's country) without holding anything back. Elisa learns some very hard lessons in a relatively short amount of time and realizes some hard truths.
Elisa, in short, is my hero. Not because she saves the day. Not because she's clever and quick-witted and brave. Not just because of those things at least. Elisa is my hero, and would have been my role model for life as a teen, because she doesn't judge herself. She doubts why she was Chosen. She looks back at the way she was in her home kingdom with horror, but she doesn't ever say 'I'm a useless person'. Whenever she uses the words 'useless' and 'fat' she is repeating what others have said behind her back (or in at least one case, to her face).
She is self-conscious, she envies other women for their slim forms or graceful bearing, but she doesn't deride herself for not being that way. She is strong, just as many of the characters say she is, but she shows that strength in subtle ways. Read more ›
I spent the first quarter of The Girl of Fire and Thorns hating Elisa. A child still at 16, she solves all her problems by eating or praying and failing to understand why God does not help her when trouble lands on her lap. A meek character, Elisa is easily pushed around by both her family, her servants, and her new husband all without realizing that they are controlling her life for her. As a relatively agnostic person, the religion so often discussed often put me on edge.
However once the story really begins, The Girl of Fire and Thorns becomes a much more interesting story. The revolutionaries that nobody knew existed need Elisa's help. They believe that only she can help them fight back the enemies quickly approaching to renew a war that never really ended. Forced to live as the orphan children and refugees do around her, Elisa finally experiences life outside her sheltered walls. Seizing upon a need to do something to help, Elisa plots out ways to stop the massive army from decimating her new home and the people she has begun to care about. Despite the slow beginning, The Girl of Fire and Thorns quickly picks up pace and becomes a much more interesting novel, leaving me curious and eager for the next book in the series.