Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Early Review - The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (4.5/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Size: 432 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 20, 2011
ISBN: 978-0062026484
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in a planned trilogy
Source: eGalley through NetGalley.com
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book through NetGalley(dot)com.  This was a spectacular book, a really phenomenal fantasy read.  I was drawn into the story right away and enjoyed practically every moment of it.  This is the first book in a planned trilogy.

Elisa is the Chosen One, she bears the God Stone in her navel.  She is also the youngest daughter and is pampered, kind but a bit lazy and overweight.  When her marriage to a King of the neighboring kingdom is planned, she doesn't know what to expect.  She doesn't want to rule and she doesn't want to love her husband; but she wants to finally live up to her title as the Chosen One and wants her husband to love her.  When Elisa is kidnapped shortly after arriving in the new kingdom everything she knows changes.  She will embark on a forced quest to find what it really means to be the Chosen One.

The world in this book is a desert world, which was fun to read about.  You don't see many fantasy books set in the desert.  The world is intricate and well built and I really enjoyed it.

Elisa is an inspiring character.  In the beginning she is kind and smart, but lazy and untried.  She changes so much over the course of the book, her struggle to become something more really captured my attention and my heart.  The fact that she partakes in this struggle even knowing that most of the Chosen Ones fail and die, just made her all the more courageous.  Elisa's attitude is awesome; she never despairs and always makes the best of what she is given.

All of the side characters are so well done, they are all so well filled out and have complex lives of their own.  I wished we could have spent a bit more time getting to know them all and hopefully we will in future books.

The descriptions are wonderful, making the world and the characters easy to picture.  The action scenes incredibly well done and the pacing perfect.  I was impressed at the breadth of the story and at how well the main story line is tied up in this book, but still eager to see what Elisa does next

There were a couple things about this book that bothered me.  Firstly I wasn't a big fan of Elisa's husband, the King.  After all Elisa went through I just wanted so much more for her than this King.  It's not that he was evil or even mean, he just wasn't enough for her.  I am hoping in future books they will grow more as a couple and her husband will be able to learn from his weaknesses.

Secondly religion and God are extremely prominent in this book.  I am not saying this is good or bad; although I am not usually a fan of books that rely heavily on religion as a plot device.  Religion was the driving factor for a lot of the characters' decisions.  Just something to mention.  The religion was actually a necessary component of this world and really seemed to be story driven (some of this story seems a bit based on the Crusades); it's not like the author was trying to lecture readers or force religion on readers.  But it was definitely there, Elisa's main form of combating her opponents in by praying and there is a ton of it in this book.

Overall this was just a fantastic adventure fantasy of sorts.  There was political intrigue, a wonderful world, action, adventure, romance, and a coming of age tale that will capture every-one's heart.  If you are a fantasy fan you have to read this book.  I adored it and cannot wait to read what the next book has in store for Elisa.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

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