Sunday, 18 May 2014

Series Review || Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson

Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson ★★★★☆
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. 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.

I did not expect to enjoy this trilogy as much as I did. This was the first time I'd plowed through a trilogy with one book after the other after the other. Even though the first book The Girl of Fire and Thorns does wrap up its plot loosely at the end, I was still interested in continuing.

And boy, let me tell you, if you get into this one you'll want to have The Bitter Kingdom (book 3) on hand once you finish with The Crown of Embers (book 2). Holy cliffhanger ending, Batman. I threw book 2 a short distance upon reading the final page. I was both so pleased with the suspense of the ending and so ticked that I hadn't brought book 3 with me to pick up immediately.

While I want to do a really thorough review on this series, part of me keeps shying away. Because I really knew next to nothing about this series going in. I'd read the synopsis above at least once, but it hadn't been particularly memorable. And I knew this was YA fantasy. But that was about it.

Because of that, I found that as I was reading book 1 I was constantly being surprised. I'm pretty sure I uttered, "What the hell is even happening?" a few times during the book. And not because it was confusing, but because I literally had no idea what to expect.

Even if I had, truthfully, the books take so many twists and turns I think they'd be hard to predict anyway. There was just the feeling of being swept up in the world that I really appreciated. And marathoning the series in one go really made me feel attached to the cast of characters that inhabited this world.

There was a sense of familiarity about the setting and the characters that settled in for me sometime in book 2. And after that, every time I picked up the books to continue reading, it felt like going back to old friends. And with three books worth of material, the character growth is so wonderful to watch as it unfolds before you.

The series ticks off a lot of boxes of things I enjoy in books. Including action and adventure, but also court politics and intrigue. There were a few major players in the series that I kept waiting to have secret motives and/or turn out to be antagonists. Some of the betrayals and secrets, once they're out, are heart-wrenching and shocking.

I also love an epic journey, and not one of the books in this series disappoints in this regard. There is a lot of on the road/on the run in all the books, and the tension is palpable.

Elisa as a main character and narrator is interesting. At the beginning of the series she is a self-depreciating, silly child. She has to grow up incredibly quickly. By the end of the series, she is a confident and strong major player in world events. It was a pleasure to watch her come into her own.

And another genuine pleasure with respect to the major love interest of the series. I'll not say much, because I really do believe that going in blind is the best way about it, but the only appropriate reaction to him is: swoons. Added to the book boyfriend list, let me tell you. Phew.

Overall, the ratings broke down as follows:
The Girl of Fire and Thorns -- 4 stars
The Crown of Embers -- 4.5 stars
The Bitter Kingdom -- 5 stars

So that rounds the series out as 4.5 stars all together. I am seriously considering purchasing this series. Which, coming from me, is high praise. Though I do buy a lot of books before I read them, I only keep or want to buy a read series if it's exceptional.

I was pleasantly surprised by this series. I laughed, I cried (and not where you might think!). I'd highly recommend giving this a go.

Have you read this trilogy? What did you think? Let's chat in the comments!