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This review is from: Fire and Thorns (Fire & Thorns Trilogy 1) (Paperback)
The narrative of this story is wonderfully descriptive, and Rae Carson's smooth writing style brings to life both the world in which Elisa lives, and all the characters that populate it.
"Fire and Thorns" (originally titled, The Girl of Fire and Thorns) is at its heart a coming of age story about Elisa. All her life she's known that she is was 'chosen', but if her sixteen years have taught her anything it's that she's remarkably unremarkable for someone waiting to do a great deed. When we first meet her she's insecure and pudgy, and very self-critical.
The romance is well-written, and there's more than one flirtation for Elisa, but this is never written in a way other than what I could imagine happening in real life. Crush versus real love, and recognizing the people who say they will be there for you, over the people who actually show you they truly are there for you. Having said that, despite the elements of romance, there are so many wonderful plot twists in the story, and such growth of character for Elisa, that the romance never overshadows her and her self-discovery. Which is one of the reasons I've chosen not to mention the names of the other characters in this book. I'd love for other readers to discover them, without too much of an introduction beforehand, because I loved jumping into this novel, knowing very little before I started too. Sometimes trailers and reviews can give too much away, and I hope not to give away too much.
She's taken from the safety of her father's castle, and it's in the outside world that she finally discovers who she really is, even if she's still unsure of what her chosen task(s) are, or will be. The plot takes Elisa and the reader on a voyage of discovery, where she discovers that maybe all that she knows about being a chosen, is merely the tip of the iceberg. There are things that others know and have kept from her, and there are things only she can know if she has faith.
I loved Elisa's voice, and the complexity of the characters in this story. Not all the good guys are a hundred percent 'good', nor do all the bad guys seem entirely bad. They are simply a bunch of flawed people doing their best - or worst.
Elisa's wonderfully perceptive and aware of the motivations of others, but even she's caught by surprise by one or two characters, who in their own way will change her life forever.
Overall: The characters are easy to relate to and wonderfully complex. The world creation, with its elements of religion, faith and magic make for a fascinating read, and when you throw into the mix rebels, invaders, and treachery...well, that's a mix that makes this a real page-turner. I couldn't put it down :) 5 out of 5 stars.