Princess Lucera-Elisa is the chosen bearer of the Godstone, something that only happens once a century. Except, she starts off as a useless second princess who has no interest in politics, government, or war. Her interest seems to lie in the devout, the library, and minor useless knowledge that has the potential to become useful.
The book starts with Elisa's marriage to King Alejandro of the neighboring kingdom, and the story begins to unfold quite quickly from there. There is danger to the Godstone bearer, there is war on the horizon, and the chosen is the one everyone believes will save the world. But how, Elisa has yet to even fathom.
The real adventure starts when Elisa is kidnapped by a group of desperate commoners who hope she is able to bring salvation to their lives against the invading enemy; especially when they are a hill folk living a great distance from their kingdom and the king seems to have chosen to abandon them.
This story incorporates a fairly well-built religious system and world that I'm excited to learn more about. I'm not a religious person myself, but this book (though not quite a religious one as a story), makes good use of religion as part of the world-building and culture of Joya D'Arena, Orovalle, Invierne... etc.
Highly enjoyable and a page-turner I hadn't been expecting, but had been hopeful for nonetheless. Sometimes there's a lot going on that is hard to keep up with, but overall, the adventure, the conflicts, and Elisa's growth is excellent. It's great to read a YA where romance is not the forefront conflict of our heroine when a war is on the brink--she certainly has her priorities in proper line. And it was wonderful watching her grow from feeling like a useless, ignorant princess into a real hero who has suffered the consequences of war and death.
I love the friendships and the characters Elisa meets and makes along her journey. However, I also wish there had been some better character interactions between Elisa and her new friends and even her old friends. Sure, the love and the respect is there, and sometimes you can feel it. But other times, a lot of the character interaction is kind of bland.
Also, no insta-love, even if Elisa does spend a short amount of time pining after a king who doesn't love her. Then again, she DID have to marry him, and it would only be reasonable for her to hope that the two of them would eventually learn to love each other. But I'm still glad that she got over her initial dreamy ideals that Alejandro would care about her romantically--I honestly didn't really care about Alejandro as a person even though you see very little of him in the story.
I even thought that Hector would become the immediate love interest up until Humberto made his appearance. In a way, I'm kind of glad that the main romance is being stalled for later on after Elisa and Hector have more time to spend in each other's company. And I'm glad that romance wasn't even really Elisa's main concern.
I'm a little hesitant to accept how quickly she goes from "useless princess" to "leader of a mysterious fighting faction". Of course, I DO appreciate that, despite the fact that she sees herself as a "useless princess", her knowledge and her thought processes are anything but that of an ignorant, spoiled girl. She is quick to admit her lack of knowledge and quick to strike out in obtaining the knowledge she requires to make decisions. She doesn't presume to know everything, but she also doesn't act like an ignorant fool either. She also doesn't dilly-dally in making decisions that need immediate action.
I'm not sure how I feel about her physical changes along with her growth and development. I like that she DOES go through a lot of change during her time away from luxury and in the face of war devastated lands and poverty in harsh environments. And I guess it would only make sense that she loses a lot of weight during her journey across the desert with nothing but heat and simple rations of broth and LOTS and LOTS of walking.
I was just hoping the physical beauty wouldn't play such a big role in her life, whether or not she's going to be a queen. And whether or not she's going to be a significant hero.
But I'm going to overlook that as simply a transition in the story and not let it bother me. After all, she at least didn't become dainty and fragile and anorexic looking. I'm going to assume she just lost enough weight to be of an average, healthy size. And I'm going to envy the fact that she managed to keep her big boobs and shapely butt, because I know those are usually the first things to go when women are dieting...
Not that it should be an issue in a YA. Nuh-uh.
However, I love that she still remains a heroine who loves food A LOT and doesn't care to hide it. And she is constantly eating and thinking about food. And she's all: "Parties and celebrations and fashions and silk gowns? Don't you people know there's a war coming? Now pass me that chicken dish and let's get this war council started!"
Surely, a woman after my own heart!
The politics are scarce (not really a complaint) and things seem to fall into place too easily. There's a lot going on that relies extremely heavily on "destiny" and "God's Will" and such stuff of higher beings, uncontrollable by a mere human. But I'm glad that there was mention of the fact that it took Elisa's own faith in herself and her willingness to act on her own will rather than sitting around and waiting for "God's Will" to intervene, in order to make things happen.
Overall, still a great read and I'm looking forward to the next book.