Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: short story prequels
The Shadow Cats is told from the perspective of Elisa’s older sister. Discover how their sibling rivalry looks from Alodia’s viewpoint, and find out why Alodia agrees to marry her sister off to King Alejandro of Joya de Vega.
The Shattered Mountain revolves around Elisa’s best friend and handmaiden, Mara. Before she meets Elisa at the rebel camp in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, she suffers her own tragedy. Her village is destroyed and she must lead the few young survivors to safety.
The King’s Guard centers on Hector, Commander of the Royal Guard and Elisa’s true love. Set years before The Girl of Fire and Thorns, it shows us fifteen-year-old Hector as a new recruit. He must prove himself—and he discovers a secret he must keep forever.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I highly recommend these stories are read after the original trilogy. While there aren’t spoilers, being prequels, I think the reader will get a lot more out of them if they’re read after the series. I might suggest a read before THE EMPIRE OF DREAMS, because Hector’s story sets the stage a bit for how Red’s training goes.
THE SHADOW CATS is the shortest of the stories but gives a brief glimpse into Alodia’s mind – the most mercurial of the series’ characters. I like being able to see what drives her, and how her mind works. Her change of heart over Elisa feels a little fast, but there probably would be lots of events between this story and FIRE OF THORNS that would boost her opinion.
Interestingly, THE SHATTERED MOUNTAIN is the only story in this series not told in first person. This does mean it’s a little harder to connect with Mara, as her story is less intimate. However, the story does a good job of showing the impact of the war with Invierne on the common people. Elisa (which she goes through a lot) is treated by the war quite differently (being the bearer everyone wants). THE SHATTERED MOUNTAIN shows in visceral detail what drives people towards the rebellion.
THE KING’S GUARD is the longest of the three stories, taking up about 40% of page time. And it’s about Hector, so naturally, it’s my favourite. I just love stories about loyalty and understanding where it comes from.
I really like how it expands the world of the Royal Guard, and shows why Alejandro would appoint him so young (this story puts Hector at 21 at the start of the first book, if my early morning maths is correct). It also gives a backstory to both Fernando and Lucio, who are key members of the Royal Guard, and why Hector trusts them so much. I’m slightly curious why the secret he discovers in this story is never mentioned in THE EMPIRE OF DREAMS, as that would have been a twist to the plot.
Read my reviews of other books by Rae Carson:
Fire and Thorns (this series):
The Gold Seer Trilogy: