Book Review: FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson

Fire and Thorns.png

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult (YA in the US?)
Star Rating: 4/5 stars
Series: Yes - book one of trilogy


fire and thornsOnce 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. She 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 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. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. 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. 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I utterly adore this series. It’s one of my favourite, and so I really struggled to write a review that wasn’t just incoherent It’s just soooo good. There was a terrible existing review (as seems to be par for the course!) which didn’t help either.

One of my favourite books in the world! Amazingly written and designed characters

The characters. There are so many characters I want to talk about, but I’ve made myself plan it out and spread them over the three books.

This is a series focused on its female characters. They are the heart and soul of the books, strong in a variety of different ways. Many of the men are either weak, ineffectual or traitors. There are some great male character, but they are outshone by the ladies.

Elisa is a stunning main character, with such nuance. I love her journey and the evolution of her character. She loves books (which wins her brownie pots), with an inquisitive, sharp mind that is her strength. It’s amazing to see the heroine of a fantasy celebrated not for her physical prowess or magical might, but her brain.

Of all the characters, Cosme is the most capable yet she still has her flaws. The evolution of her relationship with Elisa is so satisfying to watch. She’s the sister/best friend Elisa needs to push her out of her comfort zone. Ximena is Cosme’s balance or opposite. A maternal figure who helps Elisa stay in her comfort zone, and is always there to soothe or comfort Elisa.

Alejandro is the weak king – a touchstone throughout the series for Elisa’s ruling. Is she doing better or worse than him? I love the way FIRE AND THORNS (and the later books) dig into why he’s so ineffectual. It’s not just he’s not good, it’s carefully explored and feels so realistic – all of these pressures crushing him. He’s also very childish at the same time, and rather naive. It’s a realisation that comes steadily throughout the book, as Elisa grows from a child and sees that he is much like she was at the start – even though he’s older.

Humberto is sweet, and pays real attention to Elisa (unlike Alejandro). I don’t have much to say about him, other than that.

The chosen one trope is my probably favourite. Yes, it’s done so often it can drag, but then you find a book that reignites your love for the trope. This is one of those books. Without spoiling it, I love the why of Elisa being the chosen one, and the way the whole world reacts to her. Everyone expects something of her, and the weight plays a huge role. Not to mention the two sides of pro-bearer and pro-godstone (aka, work with her, or kill her for the jewel!).

This book, and series, deal with faith in such a relateable way. Carson has said she’s not a Christian, but that doesn’t stop this book mirroring so many questions and struggles I’ve had with my own faith. It’s one of the reasons it holds such a special place in my heart.

The plot is so much fun, with twists and turns throughout. This review is getting rather long, so I’ll leave it there. The writing it so evocative, building up a rich world.

And now onto the second book, and my favourite of the series: THE CROWN OF EMBERS.

Read my reviews of other books by Rae Carson

Fire and Thorns (this series):

The Gold Seer Trilogy:

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