The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The basics

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns


Series: Fire and Thorns #1

- The Girl of Fire and Thorns (September 2011)
- The Crown of Embers (September 2012)
- The Bitter Kingdom (August 2013)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

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.
Read a full summary of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Girl of Fire and Thorns and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.
This recap was written by the ever-wonderful Amy of Tripping Over Books!

in short

In this fantasy, Elisa, a princess of Orovalle, bears the Godstone, a gemstone in her bellybutton that marks her as chosen by God. She marries the king of a large, prosperous kingdom, but is kidnapped from her rooms and taken into the desert, where she bonds with her captors and their plight. They fight the Invierne, a group who live in the mountains and who want Elisa’s Godstone AND are about to start a war against Elisa’s husband. They have magic that makes them almost unstoppable. But Elisa’s Godstone gives her more power than she realizes, even though her powers cannot save all of the people she loves–both potential love interests in this book DIE. THEY DIE.

what happened in The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Part I

  • It it Lucero-Elisa’s, princess of Orovalle, wedding day. Her husband is a well-known stranger: The King of Joya D’Arena, a man she has never met, Alejandro. Obvs a political union: Alejandro needs the promise of Orovalle’s men in the imminent war with the Invierne, a group of people living in the mountains. Elisa’s maids struggle to fit Elisa into her wedding dress, which had to be created in a jiff because this wedding is SHOTGUN SUPREME. One of the reasons her dress doesn’t fit? Elisa is overweight.
  • Once Eisa and Alejandro are married, things get AWKWARD. Alejandro is a good-looking widower with a son, and king of the largest, most prosperous kingdom around. Elisa is a 16-year-old, self-conscious, overweight virgin. Oh, and also: She is the bearer of the Godstone. (check the list below for the 411 on the Godstone). They don’t sleep together, but Alejandro is kind to Elisa and she takes a liking to him.
  • Elisa bids her father and her sister, the heiress to Orovalle and Elisa’s frenemy, farewell and journeys with her new husband and his men through the jungle to her new home as Queen of Joya D’Arena. Her two maids, Aneaxi and Ximena, accompany her.
  • During the trip through the jungle, the train of wagons is attacked and Elisa–who is seriously read up on war theory–helps Alejandro’s captain of the Guard, Lord Hector, fend off the attackers and winds up saving Alejandro’s life to boot.
  • However, during the attack, one of her maids, Aneaxi, is wounded and eventually dies before the group gets to Brisadulce, the capital of Joya. Also, when one of the bad guys realizes that Elisa bears the Godstone, Ximena flies out of nowhere and kills him with a STRAIGHT PIN. #badass
  • When everyone arrives in Brisadulce, Alejandro keeps it a secret from everyone that he and Elisa are already married, including his mistress, Condesa Ariña.
  • The good news is that Elisa makes friends with Lord Hector, and Alejandro’s son, Rosario, takes a liking to her.
  • Alejandro asks Elisa to sit in on the Quorum of Five meetings–basically his council–and Elisa finds out that out in the desert, the Invierne are attacking the people who live there. The Quorum can’t decide how to proceed. Alejandro is a master of indecision.
  • Elisa meets the priest, Father Nicandro, at the Monastery-at-Brisadulce and learns that there are waaay more details about being the bearer of the Godstone than her family and people in Orovalle ever told her. Bottom line? She is destined to perform some unknown act of service, but she might not get a chance to: lots of previous bearers died before they had the chance. He gives her some Godstones from previous bearers and she hides them in her room.
  • Condesa Ariña sends her maid, Cosmé, to serve Elisa. The two ladies butt heads like WHOA, but Elisa is clever, and despite her own misgivings about her ability to play the political/upstairs-downstairs game, she’s pretty good at it.
  • Alas, just when things are starting to look up for Elisa, and Alejandro is moving towards making their marriage known to his court, Elisa is kidnapped from her roomsin the middle of the night.

Part II

  • Elisa wakes up from being drugged during her kidnapping to discover that her kidnappers are bringing her across the desert, and that one of her kidnappers is Cosme. Another is Cosme’s brother, Humberto, who’s always nicer to Elisa than the others. They trudge through the desert for a MONTH until they reach a settlement of caves–their hometown.
  • She discovers that the war Alejandro and the Quorum believe will restart soon has never actually ended out here on the frontier. It’s been going on the whole time.
  • After much settling in and earning the trust and respect of not only the people of this village but also Cosme and her brother, Humberto, Elisa becomes fond of these people and sensitive to their plight. She eventually tells them all that, in addition to bearing the Godstone (the reason she was kidnapped in the first place), she is also married to the king (O_O) and promises to do all she can to allow the desert folk to secede from Joya D’arena and rule themselves.
  • Elisa becomes the de facto leader of the desert resistance, establishing the Malficio as kind of guerrilla warfare to harass the Inviernos. The village begins warring up—making weapons, etc.
  • As she spends more time in the desert, Elisa becomes SUPER close to Humberto. Like, smoochy-face, kind of intense close. He starts sleeping inside the doorway to her sleeping quarters to “keep her safe.” *wink wink* Except for real. He takes is pretty seriously that she’s married to someone else.
  • After a time, it’s decided that a group of scouts need to check out the Invierne camp. The same group who kidnapped Elisa—who are now basically her friends—go.
  • The plan is to observe the Invierne from a cave that Humberto, Cosmé, Jacián, and Belén used to visit as kids. They have a few close encounters on the way to the cave, but are saved by the advance warning from Elisa’s Godstone.
  • When they arrive at the cave, Elisa, Humberto, and Cosmé, are waiting while Belén and Jacián are off hunting/checking out the area. Elisa and Humberto are having a heart to heart when all of a sudden her Godstone goes ice cold and they see some Inviernos approaching the cave, which is too much of a coincidence to be anything accidental. Fearing that they will be separated and not find each other again, Humberto kisses Elisa but good. He and Cosmé run off after stashing Elisa in a small cavern. The Inviernos show up in the cave, but don’t find Elisa.
  • That is, until she has to go to the bathroom. Then they catch her, and they bring her back to their camp
  • Once in the camp, they bring Elisa to their leader, an animagus called Lo Chato. During his interrogation of the other men, Elisa realizes that the animagus wears a Godstone in the amulet around his neck and that he is able to generate power with it to control the bodies of the other men. But she isn’t “other men” and the powers don’t affect her, so she fakes it. Lo Chato threatens her to get information out of her, but when he steps out of the cave for a second, she sees some duerma berries and dumps them in the wine…
  • …Which Lo Chato eventually drinks to his own detriment. Elisa—instead of killing him, despite his threats–sets fire to his tent, cuts off his braid and clothes and walks right out of camp disguised as him. BUT! BOMB DROP! On her way out of the camp, she sees a familiar face—Belén, hanging out next to a campfire, eating and chumming around with Inviernos. It wasn’t a coincidence that they found the cave. Belén betrayed them.
  • Elisa escapes from the Invierne camp and goes on the run, eventually using her Godstone to guide her. She literally stumbles onto Humberto, who came back to find her. They return to their village, where Elisa outs Belén as the traitor. Cosmé is PISSED and devastated.
  • In time it is discovered that Conde Treviño in Basajuan, the nearest Joya holding, wants to discuss an alliance with the leader of the Malficio. Elisa & Co. know that he is in league with the Invierne, sending them food and supplies to keep them from attacking his city. Plans are made to go to Basajuan under the guise of making an alliance while actually trying to poison the food supply train. Elisa, Cosmé, Humberto, Jacián, a new friend Mara, and several others decide to go to Basajuan.
  • Meantime, Belén is captured and returned to the village. He is in BAD SHAPE, and people don’t trust him. But he tells Elisa that the Invierne want her Godstone to do bad things with it and that she needs to go back to Brisadulce.
  • Despite Belén’s warning, they all go the Basajuan as decided anyway. Their plan is going along as smoothly as it can when the whole crew is captured and held in some shady “guest quarters.” Eventually, Elisa, Humberto, and another boy are called to the Conde’s office.
  • Conde Treviño basically shoots their plan down, saying that he talked to the Inveirne leaders and convinced them that he didn’t poison their stuff. The Conde tells Elisa that she needs to tell him where the Malficio’s camp is, and that he’ll send her to the Invierne as a sign of good faith. They want her Godstone.
  • When one of the Conde’s men starts to strangle Elisa in the resulting hullabaloo, Humberto jumps to defend her, saying that he is the leader of the Malficio. Treviño knows he is lying, though, and orders one of his men to KILL HUMBERTO. While he is in the middle of finally confessing to Elisa that he loves her, the man slits his throat and he dies in Elisa’s arms. The Conde threatens to kill one companion of Elisa’s each day she withholds information from him.
  • When she arrives back in the chamber, Elisa tries to cut the Godstone out of belly, but Cosmé and Mara stop her. They craft a plan to go back to the conde tomorrow so that Elisa can kill him.
  • THIS plan is also going along as Elisa hoped, until it’s cut short by the arrival of Lord Commander Hector and Elisa’s lady, Ximena, in town after some political doings in the capital while Elisa was in the desert. Hector tells Conde Treviño that he has been keeping the Queen of Joya D’Arena captive. Whoops!
  • Not long after this–like, literally maybe a day later–Hector receives word that the Invierne army is marching on Brisadulce. Hector, Elisa, Ximena, and Mara head back to the capital.

Part III

  • Upon arrival, Elisa, who is much changed physically and emotionally and mentally by her time in the desert, is at first unrecognizable to Alejandro. Hector introduces her as the Lady of the Malficio.
  • Elisa is back in her chambers, but the plant where she hid the Godstones is gone. She asks Rosario to sneak around and try to find them.
  • Alejandro decides that it is now time to not only acknowledge his marriage to Elisa but to officially crown her as well. Done and done.
  • A few days later, Elisa hears the warning bells toll. When she goes to the wall to see what’s going on, she notices that the warriors are not the Invierne, but the Perditos, the painted jungle people who attacked their party all the way back in Part I. They effectively trap everyone inside Brisadulce.

how did it end?

  • The Invierne army eventually arrives, and their animagi appear in front of it. In five groups of five, their people walk up to the animagi, who slit their throats to gain the power the need from their blood to work their fire magic and burn down the walls around Brisadulce.
  • Brisadulce’s fortifications fend off the first wave of fire, but Hector brings Elisa back to her chamber for her own safety, and so she can be with Rosario.
  • Elisa makes plans to steal away with Rosario to protect the heir should anything happen. But she also needs her other Godstones, and she and Rosario go to Condesa Ariña’s chamber to search for them. She’s been holing up in there, not accepting any visitors because her dad, Conde Treviño, has now been unmasked as a traitor. When they are admitted, Elisa distracts Ariña with conversation about an amulet Elisa took from Conde Treviño while Rosario digs up the Godstones.
  • The Invierne eventually burn down the gate and make it into Brisadulce. Alejandro busts into Elisa’s room to tell her that they are coming. While they are all planning their escape with Rosario, the animagi show up in Elisa’s quarters. Ariña has brought them there.
  • When the animagi attempt to work their magic, Elisa puzzles out a way to use the old Godstones, the amulet from Conde Treviño, and her own living Godstone to create tremendous power for herself and defeat the animagi, but before she does, Alejandro tries to rescue her from an advancing animagi and gets burned with their magic fire.
  • But then Elisa starts praying and using all of the Godstones and the amulet and this magic makes the animagi wither and turn to dust. Elisa passes out.
  • Afterwards, Elisa wakes to realize that her Godstone magic created a blast of energy that blew out all the windows in the city, and that Alejandro–in addition to being burned by the animagi–got blasted with glass. He is dying.
  • On his deathbed, Alejandro makes Elisa promise to take care of Rosario, and names Elisa Queen Regnant (basically, regent) until Rosario comes of age. Then Alejandro slips into a coma and dies.
  • Three months pass. The Invierne army has retreated, defeated for now. Elisa crowns Cosmé as Queen of the newly established country of Basajuan, and Elisa lives to fight another day.

WHEW! This book is long and eventful!

anything else

The Godstone: a jewel that is implanted by God into the belly button of each bearer during infancy. Elisa got hers in the middle of her christening. It warms and cools itself depending on what the bearer is experiencing, often warming during prayer and cooling off as a warning. A new bearer is chosen every hundred years.
Invierne: rebels who live up in the Sierre Sangre, a mountain range beyond the desert of Joya D’Arena. They are rumored to have mages in their midst who can fight with magic.
Animagus/Animagi: the aforementioned mages who wear amulets that glow with magic. Their main weapon is magic fire, virtually impossible to stop.
Via Reforma: a movement of the Christianity-esque religion prevalent in this world that is a little stricter than most. Elisa’s family and all of Orovalle follow this path, and it is this school of thought that leads them to keep secrets from the bearer for their own safety.
Brisadulce: capital of Joya D’Arena and home of King Alejandro.
Alodia: Elisa’s sister and heiress to the throne of Orovalle.
The Quorum: The King of Joya D’Arena’s main council. People to know who sit on it: General Luz-Manuel and Conde Eduardo.
Father Alentín: the priest in the desert village who becomes a confidant and teacher of Elisa’s.

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