This book came in on hold at one of those times when five or six books that I’d been waiting for came in for me all at the same time. Since it was the longest book, I saved it for last, with the result that I had to turn it back in and go back on the list for it. By then, I’d completely forgotten why I’d wanted to read it in the first place… but it was worth the wait.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson We meet Princess Lucero-Elisa on her sixteenth birthday. She is popping the buttons on her already large wedding dress and hoping that her groom, King Alejandro de Vego, will be old or ugly enough not to care that he has a fat bride who has never cared much about politics. She’s the younger sister and always felt overwhelmed by her smart and beautiful older sister. Her hobbies are embroidery and studying the ancient texts, the art of war and the scriptures. Scripture is highly personal to her, for on the day of her temple dedication, a glowing blue stone appeared in her navel – the Godstone, given to one bearer every hundred years. It’s there for a purpose, she knows, but she has yet to discover what her call is. All too soon for her peace, she is journeying through the jungle with her new husband, lots of armed guards, her nurse Ximena, and her lady-in-waiting. (I really loved the names that seemed New World Hispanic with bits of older New World culture peeping through, rather than straight Spanish.) They are attacked; Elisa must defend herself and her companions, discovering new sides of herself, Ximena, and her husband. She is unsettled again when she moves into the palace without being formally recognized as the King’s wife, and even more so when she is kidnapped by the border desert people a few weeks later. Eventually, they gain her sympathy and she begins to plan with them how to resist the massive army of Invierne that is massing on the border and destroying their villages. Not only is she their only hope, but it turns out that the Inviernes will do anything to take her themselves.