The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Girl of Fire and Thorns Series #1)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Girl of Fire and Thorns Series #1)

4.2 339
by Rae Carson

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The first book in the acclaimed and award winning New York Times bestselling trilogy. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a remarkable novel full of adventure, sorcery, heartbreak, and power. "I stayed up until two a.m. reading this last night. Intense, unique. . . . Definitely recommended."—Veronica Roth, author of the best-selling Divergent


The first book in the acclaimed and award winning New York Times bestselling trilogy. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a remarkable novel full of adventure, sorcery, heartbreak, and power. "I stayed up until two a.m. reading this last night. Intense, unique. . . . Definitely recommended."—Veronica Roth, author of the best-selling Divergent series

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's savior. 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. "A page-turner with broad appeal."—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Carson debuts with a smart, complex fantasy with stellar characters, first in a planned trilogy. Even though she bears the mysterious and rare Godstone, 16-year-old Princess Elisa has been a disappointment to her family and country. Plain, overweight, and unmotivated, she is content to wed a handsome neighboring king to cement an alliance. After an arduous journey to her new home, Elisa arrives to find that her husband wants to keep their status hidden. But there are more pressing concerns—the enemy is preparing to invade, and Elisa is kidnapped. As she is thrust into a fight for survival on the borders of her new kingdom, Elisa is hunted by dark magicians and must piece together clues to fulfill her divine decree. Elisa is a sensational heroine, striving to fulfill her potential under perilous circumstances, while realistically growing in resourcefulness, inner strength, and intelligence. The odd nature of the Godstone (which is embedded in Elisa's stomach) may occasionally pull some readers out of the story, but Carson's mature writing style, thoughtful storytelling, appealing characters, and surprising twists add up to a page-turner with broad appeal. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Tamora Pierce
“Elisa is a wonderful, believable hero, the kind that every reader can imagine as herself. I charged through the book in two days, savoring Elisa’s realness and her unique, wonderful world! Engrossing.”
“With The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Carson joins the ranks of writers like Kristin Cashore, Megan Whalen Turner, and Tamora Pierce as one of YA’s best writers of high fantasy.”
Sarah Prineas
“Distinctive for its luminous prose, its hint of romance, and Elisa, a strong, smart heroine that readers will truly fall in love with.”
Megan Whalen Turner
“Rae Carson’s heroine is a perfect blend of the ordinary and the extraordinary. I loved her.”
Cinda Williams Chima
“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.”
Veronica Roth
“I stayed up until 2AM reading this last night. Intense, unique. . . . Definitely recommended.”
Leah Cypess
“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.”
Paolo Bacigalupi
“A delicious debut.”
VOYA - Susan Allen
Many fantasy books have a strong female character, but this fantasy differs in that the heroine is a young, much-indulged fat girl. The opening lines are, "I have been praying—no begging—that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly, old and fat." Elise thinks then he will not be disappointed in her. After popping the seams of her wedding dress, Elise is married, and her character transformation begins. Besides being a princess, Elisa has been selected by her God for service, what service she does not know. Others think they know—her husband's country is on the brink of war, and he wants her help; holders of dark magic are seeking her; and a determined revolutionary thinks she can save his people. Through the adventures, including being kidnapped and caught in a massive sandstorm, Elisa digs deep to find determination and the ability to lead. The fantasy world created is intoxicating. Names, food, architecture, language, beliefs and culture are all shown to the reader, not merely described. Readers will find themselves immersed in this world and believing it. This an action-packed adventure with a little romance that leaves the reader wanting to begin the second book in the planned trilogy. This one will move. Reviewer: Susan Allen
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This compelling first book in a medieval fantasy trilogy features Elisa, a 16-year-old princess, as she grows from an inexperienced girl who is forced to marry a weak king for political reasons into a confident and capable young woman, destined to be a respected leader in her own right. Shortly after her birth, Elisa received a magical Godstone in her navel, a sign bestowed every 100 years on a chosen one. Despite this, she feels inadequate when compared to her older, more beautiful sister so she eats to compensate for it. She's also very clever, particularly in the strategies of war, but all that most people see is her ample size. The only person who respects her is young Lord Hector, her husband's personal guard. Shortly after her wedding, she's kidnapped and forced to endure an arduous journey through the desert that toughens her. One of her kidnappers is a young man who falls for her and she for him. His people hope that she, as the Godstone bearer, can save them from their constant war against a neighboring enemy. This fast-moving and exciting novel is rife with political conspiracies and machinations. Elisa's maturation and physical transformation echo Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Princess Ben (Houghton Harcourt, 2008). Fans of Tamora Pierce's "Beka Cooper" series (Random) will find a kindred spirit in Elisa as she experiences great adversity and heart-wrenching loss.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton
Kirkus Reviews

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa's "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Girl of Fire and Thorns Series , #1
Sold by:
Sales rank:
730L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

Paolo Bacigalupi
“A delicious debut.”
Sarah Prineas
“Distinctive for its luminous prose, its hint of romance, and Elisa, a strong, smart heroine that readers will truly fall in love with.”
Veronica Roth
“I stayed up until 2AM reading this last night. Intense, unique. . . . Definitely recommended.”
Cinda Williams Chima
“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.”
Megan Whalen Turner
“Rae Carson’s heroine is a perfect blend of the ordinary and the extraordinary. I loved her.”
Leah Cypess
“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.”

Meet the Author

Rae Carson is the author of the bestselling and award-winning Girl of Fire and Thorns series. Her books tend to contain adventure, magic, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. Originally from California, Rae Carson now lives in Arizona with her husband.

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 339 reviews.
sand7s More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and entertaining. Very good book. finished it very quickly
jenababy13 More than 1 year ago
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a unique book of secrets, courage, and betrayals. Elisa is a sixteen year old girl who needs to embrace her destiny if she wishes to help the people around her and even more survive. On her sixteenth birthday Princess Elisa is set to be married to the gorgeous King Alejandro. What she doesn't know is that it is for her own safety as well as an aid to Alejandro's kingdom. See, Elisa is the "chosen one". She bears the Godstone, and only one is chosen every century. She doesn't know love or strength yet, but she must rise above herself in order to protect those close to her and reach her destiny. I have to admit, unfortunately, I could not get into this one. At first, I honestly was going to stop and add it to the list of "could not finish", but for some reason I kept reading. And, I'm actually glad I did. From part 2 on... the story did pick up for me. Elisa learns who she needs to be and you can see her mature throughout the story. Also from part 2 on, I started to enjoyed the characters we met much more. And I honestly felt extremely bad for Elisa towards the end... it seemed that every time she was ready to love, it was ripped away from her. Just because I could not get into it, doesn't mean anything though. I am just one opinion in hundreds maybe thousands! There are still good things I saw about the book. I saw a main character grow into herself. I saw a strong girl deal with love and loss. The book is also extremely unique and writing is very well done. I am only one person expressing my opinion, so if you are interested in the book, pick it up and try it out for yourself! Unfortunately, it was just not for me. =/
purdypiedad More than 1 year ago
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is an outstanding debut novel from Rae Carson. It combines every element that makes a fantasy novel fun to read (humor, page-turning adventure, magic, romance, an epic journey, and tons of suspense) with completely original elements that make the reader fall in love with both the novel and its protagonist, Elisa. Elisa is a very unlikely hero who has been chosen for greatness. The character development is outstanding as Elisa learns to embrace who she is while conquering her personal struggles in order to save a country that isn't even her own. The book is full of unexpected plot twists, political intrigue, religious exploration and critique, fabulous world building, and themes pertinent to every young woman today. This is one of the best written novels I have ever read, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Ridley More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of teen fantasy but I have NEVER read something where the main character is overweight or unattractive. I thought this was a really new and interesting twist that first drew me to the book. Elisa is a really great main character and all her flaws and insecurities make her more realistic than most. The story was also fantastic and pulled me in, the only complaint I have is the ending. Without giving anything away, the ending seemed really rushed, like hundreds of pages go into building what should have been something much more epic or exciting. Elisa discovers she's on the verge of some great mystery and three pages later it's solved. Anticlimactic in my opinion, but still a great book and I definitely recommend reading it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy Tamora Pierce's books, then I highly recommend The Girl of Fire and Thorns! Great story, great characters, and great writing.
writingirl_15 More than 1 year ago
I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this book. But let's start with the good: I really liked the main character, Elisa; she was someone almost every girl could relate to, and at the end, maybe even strive to be like. Also, I liked how she grew throughout the novel. There was a big difference between the Elisa in the beginning and the Elisa in the end. The author was very subtle about it. Elisa didn't all of the sudden just change, it took time. All the character's, except maybe Alejandro, had their own distinct personality. And the world the author creates is lush and vivid. There was a ton of action and adventure and a bit of romance. I wish I could leave the review at that and say I absolutely loved it but, alas, I cannot. So, the bad: to be honest, there was really only one HUGE thing that made this not a five star read for me. It was the ending. I'm a happy ending kind of girl, and although I know this book is a part of a series so this isn't how it really ends, I just couldn't believe the author ended this book like that! There were many reasons it wasn't exactly a happy ending but for me there was one big reason it wasn't and if you read the book you'll figure it out. As a reader, I wasn't satisfied; I'm actually a bit pissed off. Overall, I have to say that the book was pretty great. If I wasn't such a happy ending girl I probably would have rated it five stars. I'm not sure if I'll read the next book in the series but I do recommend this book to people, it was very engrossing.
JulieCookies More than 1 year ago
I think I give this book about a 3.5 rating. I liked it, but didn't love it. The best part about this book is that it is a story about a young girl who calls herself fat and useless at the beginning of the story, and during everything that happens to her she proves to herself her true worth. I enjoyed the different kingdoms and tribes of people described. I really liked some of the characters. What I didn't like is the romance parts of the book - they were just bland and lacking. I just didn't believe the feelings were there. Maybe that is because of the writing style that was more tell and not enough show. There was also too much description of the travel (basically: "we're walking, we're walking, we're still walking" - this is how I feel about a lot of fantasy novels lately though). The religious aspects of the book were creative but I think were too much at times. All in all I felt there could have been more feelings and more plot development but that this story is a good read and is an interesting fresh type of story I haven't read before. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will admit that this book was great. Worth your money. Has a good mixture of action, romance, tragedy, and personal growth. Recommend to young adults. But of course there's still room for improvement on the author's part. Yes it had brilliant words strung together and many morals inclined, but it lacked partial feeling when it came to Elisa's love toward everyone around her. Still, I am going to follow this author and her future novels to see what else she can bring to the table. Worth a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book thinking it would be an interesting read. In theory the story could have been good; however, the execution was not there. It was much too religious and bland. I struggled to finish. There was no expansion or growth of the main characters and they were quite boring. This book was definitely not worth my money and I do not plan on following this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Thundafive More than 1 year ago
It took an interesting premise, an overweight princess unsure of her own worth and why she might have been chosen gets thrust into an unfamiliar world and must learn to adapt.  She struggles, cries, and stress eats, I believed everything about her.  Then (spoilers) like every non-funny fat person you've ever read about she is forced into some kind of hard labor that makes her lose weight, and of course that's when she starts getting her life together, only then does she buckle down and start really living.  It's very clear she has a sound mind, even a talent for intrigue, but apparently you can't be the hero and a belly, so I really couldn't get over that giant glaring cliche. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I enjoyed the good storyline and always exciting magic..what I enjoyed the most was the theme...have faith in yourself. Others may doubt you and try to tear you down..but you only fail when you doubt yourself. It is a good message for all. Of course the adventure and romance was great too.
olympianartist More than 1 year ago
Great Book! I wasn't really excited when I got this book from the library, but but the end I was laughing, crying, and cheering for Elisa.  The thing that surprised me the most about this book was how religious it was. I don't know if that was what the author intended, but I thought it was really inspirational how Elisa looked to God to get her out of scrapes. But if that's not what you're into, don't let it stop you from getting this book.  Elisa is a very relatable main character, and it was cool to watch her journey. I didn't think this book was perfect (having a magical belly button?) but I really liked. Definitely one of the best books i've read in a while.
Danier Jones More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing i couldn't stop reading. I highly recommend
ReadingCorner More than 1 year ago
The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a truly fabulous coming-of-age story. Elisa is married off to a foreigner on her sixteenth birthday, whisked off to a new land, and then hidden away as a secret. She can't reveal her Godstone and she can't reveal her marriage. Not the best start to a whole new life! She feels even more alone and worthless than she did in her home. What she doesn't realize is why it is so important to hide...and what could happen when her secrets are uncovered. Elisa was such a dynamic character and I absolutely fell in love with her. At the beginning of the novel, we area introduced to a fifteen-almost-sixteen year old girl who is preparing for her out-of-the-blue wedding. She is clearly uncomfortable in her own skin. She's been chosen for some great act of Service, but she feels like it must have been a mistake. How can she ever be as successful as her beautiful older sister? How could anyone ever fall in love with an overweight, less-than-perfect naive Princess? Her lack of confidence is fed by the secretive nature of her marriage and the multitude of secrets that she is forced to keep when she arrives in her new husband's country. Elisa was such a fabulous character because you literally watch her grown up and come into her own. She is forced to embark on this harrowing journey and along the way she transforms into a strong young woman. She experiences the joy of first love and the pain of death that war brings. The world and cast of characters that Rae Carson has presented in this book left me longing for more. The world is phenomenally and intelligently crafted. Carson's descriptions of the landscape gave me a real sense of the world without becoming cumbersome. In addition, her characters were understated but well-developed. We learn about them through Elisa's eyes and in a very "show not tell" way, which I appreciated. When characters were successful, I cheered, and when bad things happened to good people, I got upset (VERY upset in some cases). My overall sense about this book is that it is the start to a fabulous trilogy that I cannot wait to devour. I must also applaud Carson for wrapping up this book without any major cliffhangers! The world and characters have a lot of room to grow and develop in future books, but I wasn't left beginning for a conclusion to a completely undeveloped (or suddenly new) plot line.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Looks down at him while he opens her legs biting her lip
Anonymous 11 months ago
What I loved most about this book is the believability of the characters. Each one is flawed, yet struggles to rise above that and become the best person they can be.
Sparrowhawk24 More than 1 year ago
To be blunt, I have mixed feelings about The Girl of Fire and Thorns. On one hand, the story line was well-paced and somewhat original. On the other hand, the lore and thematic scope of the prose was so jarring I found it difficult to concentrate on the story or characters at all! I ended the book quite exasperated and slightly disappointed with the lack of meat and depth, to say the least; yeah, this one was just okay for me. ___________________________________ WHAT I LIKED + The introduction proved to be the most intriguing aspect of the story for me as it set the stage and with the story being fairly fast and moderately entertaining it worked! We have an arranged marriage that results in a disjointed political debacle, we have a protagonist who is “flawed” so to speak? and some magical elements that peppered the story with intrigue and lure. + Rae Carson truly has a way with words and manages to thread the reader along with her unique storytelling. The world she has conceived in The Girl of Fire and Thorns is one of pure dreamscape no less and this is no small feat! THINGS THAT MADE GO HMMM. . . - To be frank, on the subject of Elisa and her “flawed” attributes ― those being her self-esteem issues with her overweight dilemma, was the most aggravating for me because I felt it lacked sorely in depth and heart. Nevertheless, Elisa is “the chosen one” so we follow her story as she discovers her personal strengths through a series of events that are far grander than they actually pan out to be. What’s more, I found I was rooting for her, but simultaneously shunning her advancements. Clearly, these mixed emotions lend themselves to the typical “girl-falls-in-love-with-the-kidnapper” element that is found in most YA fiction. Why authors choose to place teenage girls in such inconceivable plights is beyond me I didn’t connect with Elisa either, but I did feel she handled many of the situations she encountered with stride. There are so many other issues of flawed logic in Elisa’s character arc too, but to delve any deeper on this subject would require we step into spoiler territory so I’ll just leave it at that - Whilst some magical elements that peppered the story with intrigue and lure did manage to hold my attention, all of this promise went wayward when the book subtly threw in gawky humorous lines, a jarring romantic plotline, a sorely underdeveloped antagonist and absurd religious tropes that were difficult to swallow. In fact, mind-boggling is the real key word for The Girl of Fire and Thorns as (more often than not) I found myself dumbfounded and wondering if the book was Christian fiction. Granted, I’ve read heaps of Christian fiction, but yet none of the fictional Christian books I’ve read doused themselves in so much religious angst and jargon. AFTERTHOUGHTS I really wanted to like this book as it came highly recommended; unfortunately, however, The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a sad miss. It isn’t so much that Rae Carson delivers a terrible prose; in fact, the premise holds merit! It was just overshadowed by exaggerated religious tropes that felt awfully bizarre. Take it or leave it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this whole series. Wow. Just wow! You will not regret this purchase. It sucks you in and you feel like you are there. There is action, romance,suspense, losss , everything ypu look for in a great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this adventure. A good read. I'm 62 so this a book for all ages . Even if you're 10 or 11 like one reviewer suggested. I will be looking forward to reading more from this author. So ignore the two star review,they don't know what they are talking about.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns because I had read so many good reviews about it. I avoided it at first because it sounded like the fantasy might be rooted pretty firmly in the political aspect and that is something that is often over my head in high fantasy. But I read several who are like me and still adored it, so decided to give it a go. I liked Elisa immediately. The story starts on her 16th birthday and she is about to marry a king who she has never met. She tries to convince herself that he will be ugly, both to calm her nerves and to make herself dread it just a little bit less. That is a sense of her voice and narration, and it suited me well. I also liked that she was close with her ladies/servants. They mean more to her than just advice, or help getting ready, they are like another part of her family, ones that she trusts and confides in, who both try to make her see just how special she is. The king Alejandro isn't bad, but I did balk at him keeping the marriage a secret once he gets back home. Given, they are attacked while traveling back to his kingdom. But still. I did appreciate that he didn't force intimacy and that he levels with her when she asks what he wants from her and he says a friend. Elisa gets stronger, and realizes more about herself as the book progresses. She works with the religious leader to learn about the origins of her Godstone and prophecies. She is getting mixed in the politics, and trying to represent her home country and brings her expertise from studying war and religion texts in depth. There was a set of characters that really surprised me. They were set up as the bad guys for a while, but the more time she spent with them, she learned about their beliefs and their motivations, and couldn't help but sympathize. Trust and respect was built between her and them, and really set some things in motion for the ending and into the next book. One of them died though, and it really threw me because I wasn't expecting it, and thought that it might have set up as more of a love triangle. I def will be continuing with this series and am glad I gave it a try. Bottom Line: Unlikely heroine and great cast of secondary characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strong female lead character who experiences such tremendous personal growth in the midst of adversity. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago