Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
In a world where war cycles between a nation practicing dark magic and the nations faithful to God, a gift from God is bestowed upon one child on their naming day each century. A beautiful stone is embedded in their body on their naming day by a bright light (God). Elisa, a princess, is the chosen one. Despite this special privilege, she doesn’t feel special. She’s overweight, treated disdainfully by her older sister, and on her sixteenth birthday, her family marries her off to a strange king from a neighboring country. This handsome king needs her, the chosen one, but all he gets is Elisa, a religious “sausage” of a princess. It isn’t until she is thrown into the middle of a war that Elisa finds her inner strength and the ability not only to help her husband and herself, but the entire world. That is, if she can figure out how to harness the gift God has given her and survive. Most chosen ones don’t make it to old age.
I have conflicted feelings about “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” by Rae Carson. Mostly good, but still, conflicted. This book relies a bit too much on “show” rather than “tell”. A lot of the character development stems from our heroine telling us things about the other characters. That being said, it wasn’t overrun by this problem and I happily read the entire thing in a 48 hour period. Elisa is an interesting character. It was really refreshing to have a heroine who isn’t thin and fair. However, her constant self-deprecation, while plot appropriate, did get a little overwhelming. I want to address two common complaints I’ve heard about this book.
1. Religion - Yes. It’s “religious” (though nothing real world - it’s all fantasy). When your lead character has a lifeline to God in her gut, her “Big Guy” is kind of going to be on her mind. It’s a fantasy, people. Relax.
2. Elisa getting skinny then becoming strong - Bologna! She was strong before, she just couldn’t recognize it in herself until she was forced to spend time reflecting. This time (trying to avoid spoilers here) also happened to inadvertently lose weight. It wasn’t like she had a magic “lose gut and kick butt” spell put on her. It was plot appropriate.
If you’re looking for a good, clean fantasy, with interesting magic and cultures, then this book is for you. There is some romance too, but it’s not what the book is all about. The book is about a young woman blossoming into a force to be reckoned with. I know I cannot wait to see what happens to Elisa next.
Oh and one more thing, THANK YOU Ms. Carson for writing a series book with a very satisfying ending. Always appreciated! Now go, pre-order you copy!
I received a digital ARC from the publisher, Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins) via Netgalley.com. “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” is scheduled to be published on September 20th.