Let’s Just Call This One Fistpumps Of Fury

Fantasy haters need  not apply to reading this book review. If the word worldbuilding has no particular meaning to you, if you have no idea who Tamora Pierce is, if you cringe at the thought of epic fantasy, The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson is not the book for you. If you love a hero journey where a character finds themselves, get on this book stat. If you love when characters die out of left field, hop onto The Girl of Fire And Thorns love train. If you prefer your books to have legit endings, even when they are part of a series, pick up a copy of Rae Carson’s debut.

The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson | Good Books And Good Wine

Elisa, princess of Orovalle, is chosen by God on the day of her naming. He magically puts a Godstone in her navel meaning she is marked for greatness. And so The Girl Of Fire And Thorns begins with Elisa being married off to Prince Alejandro who is mad hot and she believes is too good for her because she’s packing on the pounds. So, their marriage starts off relatively loveless, but amiable. Elisa then travels to Joya d’Arena, where Alejandro is in charge. It’s a perilous journey. And when they get there, Elisa discovers she doesn’t fit in because everyone except her is thin. Then more things happen, but in the interest of being spoiler free, there is a DESERT (YAY I LOVE DESERT SETTING) and magic and awesome. Actually awesome is more a descriptor than an object, but just know that Rae Carson’s book contains multitudes of awesome within.

I’m not even sure what element to write about first. I guess I can go with the worldbuilding. I think I’ve seen reviews bitching about how slow the book starts off. To which I wave my fantasy fangirl card in the air and say why yes Virgina, occasionally fantasy books start off slow, because the author has to set up a believable world, and yo Rome was not built in a day, bro. Carson manages to create a complex, believable religious system, without overwhelming the reader. Much of Elisa’s beliefs in God and purpose drive The Girl Of Fire And Thorns. Further, I would say what happens in the desert scenes and how they manage to survive also strike me as believable. Granted, I have never been to a desert, but I’ve read about them and this book seems to fall in line with what I’ve read. However, one bit of worldbuilding that may have enhanced this book? A map. Seriously, maps are awesome and show that a fantasy novel is legit.

Carson’s writing is nothing to sneeze at and I love that she follows the path of the greats in her chosen genre: Robin McKinley and Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore. What does she have in common? WELL, friends, I could not read the works of the aforementioned writers without doing a fist pump, and I know I totally fistpumped it like it’s hot while reading The Girl Of Fire And Thorns. I was absolutely gripped by this book. I could barely set it down, even when life responsibilities were calling me. I mean, I get all hot and bothered by war and revolutions and heroes of the people, so, you can probably imagine just how focused I was on Carson’s plotting. FYI, the pace, it’s not for tortoises.

I honestly think The Girl Of Fire And Thorns is a great book to put people on the road to epic high fantasy. It’s pretty much high fantasy lite, in that you don’t get 30 pages of a sword battle, or 15 pages depicting walking trees, although ents are baller, beginners may not love that kind of thing. SO, this is the book you hand to someone who says ‘I think I want to try fantasy but don’t know where to start.’

Also, there’s a heavy Spanish flavor in Carson’s debut, which is fierce. I loved the names, the names of the towns as well. I liked that it wasn’t totally English-type names. Oh and there are dark people, like everyone is not lily white.

Further, I saw a review of this where they found the Elisa”s weight loss to be offensive and just want to touch on that. Yo, when you stop eating junk and start exercising, which Elisa did, weight comes off. It’s as simple as that. And for some people, most I think, losing weight usually helps to boost one’s confidence, therefore, Elisa is feeling more confident and sure of herself and ready to step into the role which her Godstone has set her up for. And it’s fine to disagree with me, I am cool with that, but I just don’t see how losing weight can possibly be offensive, it’s not like she’s got an eating disorder or anything, it’s just that she is no longer turning to food to eat away her feelings.

That out of the way, I thought the ending was perfect. There were no loose strings, but I could see how the door was left open for a sequel. HOWEVER, The Girl Of Fire And Thorns could perfectly stand alone, and that’s how I feel all series should be.

Sidebar: Look at the UK cover!! I love it way more than the US cover, it’s just so desert-esque and lovely and awesome and look look a person of color!

The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson UK Cover

UK Cover

Disclosure: Received for review at BEA.

Other Reviews of The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson:

Pure Imagination
The Allure Of Books

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I HAVE TO OWN THIS UK COVER. Oh, and BAMF review.

  2. OMG! I need to come check you out more! Your reviews are really entertaining! I have this book waiting for me with Netgalley but now I want to jump all over it! Nice review.

  3. Firstly, HOW DO PEOPLE NOT KNOW WHO TAMORA PIERCE IS? Alanna, her BAMFitude and her cross dressing were an indespensable piece of my childhood! And I completely agree with you about Desert settings, it was one of the things I loved most about “The Blue Sword”. So basically this book sounds right up my alley and I am DYING to read it. Bring on September already that’s when all the books I’m waiting for are coming out!

  4. YAY!! I’m so glad you liked it! I’m such a sucker for high fantasy and well-done worldbuilding! I have this one coming up soon and now I’m even more excited about getting to it 🙂 You’re comparing her to some of my favourite fantasy authors 🙂
    Thanks for the review!

  5. I am so glad to hear that you loved this book too! I was blown away by it and it ties with Divergent for my favorite book of 2011 so far. I am surprised to hear that people were complaining about Elisa’s weight! I liked that she was an unconventional heroine who enjoyed eating. I agree with you that in the beginning of the book she is a comfort eater because of emotional issues and she learns to deal with that. The weight loss is mostly a byproduct of her ordeal in the desert and her change from a person who lives to eat to a person who eats to live.
    Excellent review! I loved Robin McKinley’s The Hero and The Crown and the Blue Sword as a teen. I also liked Graceling but I think Elisa is a different kind of heroine from Katsa. I haven’t read any of Tamora Pierce’s books yet but I can’t wait to start. I was hoping that the first book in the Song of the Lioness series would be on Kindle but for some reason it is not 🙁

    • Yes! This was right up there with Divergent for me, as far as Debut novels go.

      And I agree that Elisa is different from Katsa, in that she’s not kickass right out of the gate. She takes time to grow and develop into a warrior queen of sorts. I also see Elisa as being more tactical minded than Katsa as well, like she’s more figuring out military strategy and maneuvers and Katsa is the type to carry out the strategy.

  6. I am so excited to read this. There just isn’t enough high fantasy available these days. Wonderful review!

  7. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one it sounds awesome on so many levels.
    About the weight loss issue, I think that a book features an overweight protagonist at all is pretty awesome, but it’s okay if they lose weight. It’s not the author “selling out” or saying that you can only be powerful or awesome if your’re skinny.

    • Exactly. I think Elisa had a brilliant mind before she became slightly thinner, and while she isn’t exactly a twig, I do think that it’s fine for her to lose weight, especially under those circumstances.

  8. I don’t know much about epic fantasy or YA novels…except what you just told me. But “worldbuilding”…that is a conversation I’d like to have. My problem is I’m sort of a philosopher who can talk about worldbuilding, my problem is that I’m trying to move beyond talking ABOUT it abstractly and learn how to DO it concretely. Thanks for the review.

  9. Great review! I’m really picky about my fantasy but you basically listed all of my favorites so I now HAVE to pick up this book. I haven’t read a good fantasy in awhile so I’m so excited for this book!! I also am glad you said it was a good introductory book to fantasy. I feel like fantasy is a hard genre to sell to people who don’t read it because they have misconceptions about it so it’s great that this book might be a good stepping stone into an awesome genre!

  10. loving the sound of this! just threw it in the TBR

  11. Fistpumps of Fury! I LOVE IT. I haven’t tried fantasy yet, so YES this sounds like a wonderful start. =)

  12. I’m so pumped about reading this one. It’s in line, sitting in idle, overheating while it’s waiting for me like my Suburban almost did today in the carpool line. And all the damn covers look great. The whiny mcwhiny’s from Goodreads need to shut up.
    Capillya, what the what??? Get on the fantasy wagon, gal. LIFE IS BUT A FANTASY.

  13. You know, I sort of didn’t like it at first, but the more I read the more it grew on me. In the end, I very much enjoyed it and I totally want to continue reading the series. The world0building was fantastic and I absolutely loved Elisa as a heroine.

  14. I am feeling all smug and british because LOOK AT MY COVER YO! That is a thing of beauty right there. And well, like how can her loosing weight possibly be offensive? that bish don’t know what she’s saying yo. Also, FIST PUMP UP IN HURRRRR because high fantasy is like the mothership calling me home. I JUST CAN’T FIGHT IT. this sounds phenomenal.

  15. i need this book in my life.

  16. This!! Yes, you nailed it perfectly. This book was incredible. The UK cover is awesome.
    Also, thanks for the link love! 🙂

  17. I have been lusting over this book since I first saw the title a year (or less) ago. I am happy to see that you enjoyed it and now I need it just that little bit more – but no store around me has it in stock and I am currently limited to buying books with cold, hard cash and not credit. ARGH!

    The UK cover looks a lot like Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series covers do. Have you read that series? If not – DO IT NOW! (seriously)

  18. Ugh, you guys are killing me with all of the positive reviews for this. You’re making it sound SO GOOD, and I want some good fantasy right now! Can’t wait for this one. 🙂


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