Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Released: September 20, 2011
Page #: 422
Source: ARC from the publisher
"Chosen for an extraordinary - and fearsome - destiny, a sixteen-year-old princess becomes the heart of a revolution. Her journey from untried teen to young woman of fierce love and untold power is, simply put, epic. Lush, adventurous, and wrenching, this is the first in a trilogy for fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling and Tamora Pierce's Tortall books."
First Lines: (subject to change in final version)
"Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom. The Scriptura Sancta lies discarded, pages rumpled, on my bed. Bruises mark my knees from kneeling on the tiles, and the Godstone in my navel throbs. I have been praying - no, begging - that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly and old and fat."
Well, the ARC didn't have much of a summary on the back of the book (I'm sure that will change), so I'll try to give you a better sense of the story.
This book is about a girl who is the younger of two princesses who gets married off to a King in a far country. That sounds like a fairly normal scenario, except that there is something exceptional about this girl. When she was born, God blessed her on her naming day. She was given the Godstone - a stone in her navel that marks her as blessed... and it lives inside her. When she gets to her new home, she starts to realize that not all is as she thought it was. There is war looming and she is not as safe as she once thought.
I absolutely loved this book. Seriously. I know it's the start of a trilogy, but you can take this first book as a whole story. It's the journey of a girl from childhood to realizing her destiny. She starts off as soft and fat and ignorant... but she grows more than you can imagine. It's the type of journey we all wish to take - except without all of the hardships she faces.
There are a few love interests (obviously, with her new husband), but that isn't the focus at all in this story. It's more about the adventure, the fighting, the war. Our main lady is very interested in the art of war and strategy. This makes her a useful ally to the other cities and people she comes across - even if she is an unlikely advice-giver. I think that's one of my favorite things about Elisa... she's unassuming. People discount her knowledge and cleverness. She's able to do things that others wouldn't. Like, take charge of a revolution!
I'm not sure this is something that will keep people from reading it, but there is a large emphasis on religion in this book. Our main character has a direct line to God, so of course she spends a lot of time thinking about it, talking about it, and seeking out the priests. Though I appreciate that while she grows as a person, her take on religion is altered as well. She begins to question things and making her own decisions about things. It's very organic and makes for a great addition to the story. I love that she begins noticing that people continuously say that they are doing things - even if they're bad - because it's "God's will." I think that's not so different from how things happen today. I just thought it was a very interesting element in the book.
All in all, I loved this book. I just have one complaint... the cover. Now, I do realize they have changed the cover for the official release... but I'm not sure it's enough of a change. See, this book takes place in, what I can figure, Arabia. Or something like it. She often talks about her dark skin giving her away... The chick on the cover of this book? Not. Dark. Skinned. Not even a little bit. Now, the UK cover hits it spot on. I think it embodies everything about the story. I just wish I had that cover to look at while I was reading - it would have kept me in the right frame of mind.
Honestly, this book took me about 24 hours to read. It's one that kept me up last night trying to finish it. It is just so compelling and you really want the best for the characters. I cannot wait for this book to be released so I can fully recommend it to everyone. I think fantasy lovers will be all over this one. There are two more books (obvs... it's a trilogy), but the next one isn't for another year. I'm already excited to see what kind of story it is.
I highly and fully recommend this book. From middle school all the way up. There are a few gory and insane things that happen... but it's not written in a way that makes it all obvious. The author does a wonderful job. This is her first book and I absolutely cannot wait to see what else she has in store for us! You won't be sorry if you give this one a try.
Other Blog Reviews:
The Book Bind
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The Lost Entwife