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Read a full summary of Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth now!  This page is full of spoilers so beware. If you are looking for a spoiler-free review, check our rapid review of Carve the Mark.  If you are wondering what happened in Carve the Mark, then you are in the right place!

Veronica Roth

3.9 stars on Amazon
3.71 stars on Goodreads
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Carve the Mark Series
#1 Carve the Mark
#2 The Fates Divide


The Thuvhe
Akos Kereseth – Boy in Shotet captivity, gift is that he can disrupt the current, fated to die serving the family Noavek
Sifa – Akos’ mom, the oracle of their planet
Eijeh – Akos’ brother, fated to be the next oracle
Cisi – Akos’ sister, gift is that she can calm people
Ori Benesit – Eijeh’s childhood best friend and twin sister to Isae
Isae – Fated Chancellor of the Thuvhe

The Shotet
Cyra Noavek – Sister of the ruler of the Shotet, gift is that current shadows live on her skin, fated to someday cross the divide
Ryzek – Ruler of the Shotet, gift is the ability to trade memories with people, fated to fall to the family B
Teka – Shotet renegade


***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****

What happened in Carve the Mark?

Akos Kereseth lives in a universe with nine-nation planets. The current pulses through everything. His mother Sifa is an oracle, someone who can see the future. Each society has three, and she is currently the reigning oracle.

Akos’s family is always carefully observed and kept at arms’ length because they are a fated family, one in which each of the nine active oracles can see their future. None of the three children in the family know their own fate.

Someone broadcasts the futures of all of the fated, putting them in danger. Akos learns that his brother’s best friend Ori is also fated.


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Three Shotet soldiers are waiting for them one day when they get home. Akos’s father is killed, and Akos and his brother Eijeh are kidnapped because of their fates. Their sister Cisi is the only one left at home when they leave. Their mother is away at the time.

Surprisingly, Akos can understand the Shotet language, which means he must have Shotet blood.

Across the divide, Cyra Noavek, daughter to the Shotet ruler, recalls the days when her mother was alive and her life was semi-normal. Everything changed when her gift appeared early in life as a result of her brother Ryzek trading memories with her. (Ryzek was being trained by their cruel father, and his memories are more like nightmares.)  For him to trade memories, he has to touch her face, but Cyra’s gift delivers pain to him when he attempts to touch her.  Unfortunately, it also means that Cyra must endure constant pain.

Ryzek’s fate is that he will fall to a long-hidden and despised family, the family Benesit. Cyra’s fate is that she will one day cross the divide.

Many years later, Cyra’s parent’s are dead, and Ryzek is the ruler.  Everyone is afraid of Cyra and her painful touch.  Cyra meets Akos and his brother when some of Ryzek’s men bring them in. She is surprised to hear that Akos took down one of her father’s best men.

When the brothers are brought before Ryzek, he tells both of them their own fates, which the boys did not yet know. Akos’s fate is to die in service to the family Noavek. Eijeh’s fate is to be the next oracle. This is why Ryzek wanted them. Ryzek and his father had been searching for an oracle for many years so they could try to avoid Ryzek’s fate. 

Akos is sent to Cyra’s cousin for training. Cyra hears Eijeh screaming that night as her brother tries to force prophecies out of him. His abilities have not manifested yet.

There is escalating conflict among the planets. Cyra is used to administer punishment and interrogations. She has to obey Ryzek or else he will reveal that her gift killed their mother.

Two years later, Ryzek brings Akos to Cyra. She doesn’t recognize him at first because it’s been so long. He now looks like a man. Her brother encourages her to take Akos’s hand. When she does, her pain leaves her. His gift is to interfere with the current flowing through others. Her brother has brought him to be by her side to help her regulate her gift.

At her brother’s bidding, Cyra tortures the father of a girl named Letty.

Akos offers Cyra a hushflower potion that helps dull the pain better than any medicine she has ever had. He offers to teach her how to make the potion, so she does not have to rely on anyone else for it. In return, she will teach him how to fight. Cyra agrees.

The Shotet mark their arms with kill marks. Cyra tells him contrary to what he might’ve heard from other Shotet, they are signs of loss (not murder). The two continue to train each other. It’s taking a little while for each of them to learn.

Cyra learns that Letty’s father, the man she tortured, has hung himself. She knows it’s from the pain she caused him that lingered in his body.

Tthere is a festival underway that will precede the next sojourn, the annual Shotet trip to scavenge for usable things from other planets. The current shows them how to choose where they will go. They try to gain wisdom from the people settled there and take their refuse.

Akos is amazed at the different scavenged products at the festival. Cyra buys a knife for him. They visit a Shotet storyteller. He’s surprised that Akos is Thuvhesit because his name is Shotet and he speaks their language without an accent. The storyteller tells how the Shotet settled this planet. They followed the current around in their spaceship for a long time and finally rested on this planet because the current was the strongest. They continued with annual sojourns to continue to re-purpose items from them.

One year the Thuvhesit traveled far enough south that they came across a Shotet settlement. It was a time when many adults were gone on the sojourn. They captured the children to bring them back as servants. When the adults returned home, they waged war. They weren’t trained in battle, and many were killed. Many years later on a sojourn to a distant planet, a servant girl spoke Shotet, and they realized that some of these children were their descendants who survived. They decided to train as soldiers so they would never be overtaken again.

That night they make Cyra’s painkilling potion together before bed. When she has only downed half of it, it knocks her unconscious. She awakes the next morning with the other half spilled on her bed. Akos is nowhere to be found.

A guard says he was caught trying to escape with his brother. When the brothers, both beaten, are brought before Ryzek, he uses his own gift to trade a memory with Eijeh. Over time, Ryzek trades more and more memories with Eiljeh. He hopes to become oracle himself by becoming like Eijeh.

Soon Cyra, Akos, Eijeh, Ryzek, and many others board the sojourn ship. Letty reminds everyone of Ryzek’s fate, and he makes her fight Cyra in the arena because of it. Cyra easily overtakes her even without a blade. When Akos is helping her carve the new mark on her arm, Cyra says she was ten when her father first started asking her to cause pain in others.

Ryzek tells Cyra he has found out that an exile colony of Shotet truly exists. He wants to display their power in the coming days so no one will be brave enough to try to escape. She refuses her brother’s request.

Cyra wants more of Akos and happiness instead of more pain and torture. She’s not angry with Akos anymore. His acceptance of her is the same part of him that fosters his need to take care of Eijeh. Cyra decides to help Akos get Eijeh out.

Jorek Kuzar, the son of one of the men who helped kidnap Akos and Eijeh, asks Akos to spar with him. Akos declines at first, but eventually he agrees. Jorek says his father is the worst kind of man. He wants Akos to kill him in order to save his mother and sister from abuse. In return, he will help Akos rescue his brother.

Cyra advises Akos to kill the man in a legal fight in the arena.  Since Akos is lower class than him, he would have to provoke him and be challenged to the fight.

Cyra is attacked by a masked girl, but she lets the girl escape. Ryzek’s was also attacked, but his man Vas took the attackers down. Ryzek announces that random questioning will occur. They won’t land for the sojourn until the culprits are found.

Letty’s mom is now cozying up with to Ryzek. 

Ryzek chooses a different destination than the fates saw. He heads for a planet that he thinks will be the best partnership for the Shotet. It is rumored that they have secret weapons.

An oracle meeting is broadcast on the feed and Akos catches a glimpse of his mother. He can’t decide how he feels because she had to know what was coming for their family.

Akos realizes that he is starting to like Cyra. 

Cyra tracks down the girl that tried to kill her. She is a mechanic in the belly of the ship. Her name is Teka. She tells Teka that Ryzek is going to pick an innocent to execute for her crimes. Teka’s mother will turn herself in.

Jorek comes to pick up more sleeping potion from Akos. He’s already given it to his father once. Akos hopes that falling asleep in public a couple more times will embarrass him enough to challenge Akos to the battle once he learns it was Akos made it.

Eijeh is more like Ryzek all the time, even in his mannerisms. Cyra refuses to torture anyone, but Ryzek eventually realizes he can beat Akos to make her comply. After this realization, she kisses Akos and then says he does not have to worry about her doing that again.

They sojourn to the surface of Pitha. Ryzek wants to find favor with these people so that he might have access to their weapons in order to conquer the Thuvehsit. Cyra can’t bear to help because of what she’s feeling for Akos.

They learn that the Thuvehsit have a new chancellor. Akos is shocked to see that it’s his brother’s best friend Ori’s twin sister.

Akos asks Cyra if she would ever leave with him if he ever gets his hands on Eijeh. She would if Ryzek was dead.

Jorek’s father finally challenges Akos to a fight in the arena. Akos kills him easily.

Cyra asks Teka for a favor. She wants to get Akos out against his wishes. In return, Teka’s group asks Cyra to get them access to her family mansion in order to assassinate Ryzek.

Teka’s group makes a move to assassinate Ryzek the night they get back home. Cyra lets them in but finds that she has been blocked from Ryzek’s room. They have to fight their way out. Cyra sends Teka off with directions to Akos’s room as she creates a diversion. 

Cyra’s thrown in prison. Ryzek says that Eijeh’s visions are showing him that he needs to kill the twins in a particular order to be able to survive his fate. Ryzek wants to see who will break first. He wants Akos to say what he knows about the chancellor. He wants Cyra to say what she knows about the renegades and their possible connection to the exiles.

Cyra realizes they have starved Akos to make him weak. They force her to touch him. She feels the intense pain, too, and goes to a place in her memory when she visited a doctor long ago. He said something that makes her think she can control her power. Then she does. The black veins begin to pull away from her skin and hang in the air like smoke.

Akos wakes up in the hospital room with Ori beside him. He was dropped here, but they don’t know by who. He doesn’t know either.  Akos’s sister Cisi comes in. Her currentgift is calming people.

The chancellor Isae Benesit (Ori’s twin) arrives. Her gift is that she can determine if someone is telling the truth if she touches them. As always, her currentgift doesn’t work on Akos. She wants to know if anything was revealed about Ori to Ryzek. He doesn’t think so, but he can’t remember for sure.

Shotet spaceships approach, and Akos, Isae, and Cisi escape from the hospital. Isae cannot decide whether to trust Akos or not. Ori is captured and taken to Shotet.

They fly to Akos’s childhood home, where his mom and Cisi still live. His mom isn’t there. She’s at an oracle meeting and will not be back for several days. Cisi wants to leave and search for Ori immediately. Isae says if Akos will help her find Ori, then she’ll help him get Eijeh.

They head for the only Shotet place that might be safe, Jorek’s house. They meet his mother, and Teka is there, too.

Akos asks about Cyra, and they show him the video feed of what Ryzek did to her…brought her before a crowd and told of how she killed her mother, scarred her face, and relinquished her status. Anyone can challenge her how; she is fair game. He’ll allow as many fights as possible until she’s killed.

They eat dinner with a big group of Shotet renegades that night, learning more about each other. Isae is especially interested in their cause. 

Cyra won her first match but is getting weak. The second one is against Vas, but Akos and the renegades storm the arena and rescue Cyra. She’s stunned that he didn’t rescue Eijeh, who was also there. Akos says he’s there for her. 

They escape on a ship as Akos and Cisi treat Cyra’s wounds. When Cisi leaves the room, Akos kisses Cyra.

Isae interrogates Cyra. She’s worried the renegades won’t want to help rescue Ori. Cyra says to leave that to her.

Cyra realizes that she can now control her current gift. She touches Akos. The arm that’s touching him has no painful shadows in it at all.

She tells him she doesn’t know how to describe the two of them. He uses a Shotet word meaning a friend so close you would die for them and a Thuvhesit word for beloved.

Akos’ mom Sifa finds them at the apartment. As the oracle, she has many things to tell them. She asks Akos to serve her when this is all over to teach her Shotet culture and practices. He believes no one will accept him, believing him a traitor.

Akos wants to know whether he saves Eijeh or not in his mother’s visions. Based on her vision, they decide to attempt to save Ori and kill Ryzek at the same time. Akos is suspicious his mom is trying to orchestrate the future she wants.

When everyone else is asleep that night, Cyra sees Sifa go outside. She follows her out and asks about her future in her visions. Sifa says this version of the future is a strange one with the most potential for good and evil. She says only the fates are certain, and what the oracles decided at their annual meeting is that Ryzek should rule for as short a time as possible. Cyra asks if that means even at the expense of her sons. Sifa says it’s hard to be an oracle and a wife and mother and be forced to choose the greater good over your family.

Cyra asks about Yma. She wants to know if she was favored and what her maiden name was. It was Zetsyvis, the same as Teka’s. Cyra journeys through Voa to Yma’s house. She tells her how she figured out who she is and what her mission must be. She tells Yma the real reason Ryzek tried to execute her and that she’s working with Teka and the renegades. Yma agrees to help her drug Ryzek.

How does Carve the Mark end?

The next morning, they march toward the palace. Cyra separates from them. Akos and the others try to make it to the prison to get to Ori, but she’s not there.

Cyra enters the amphitheater and challenges Ryzek in front of the crowd of his most loyal supporters. She even mentions how she drugged his calming potion this morning. His smile looks odd, so she knows he has something up his sleeve, too. She hopes her trick works first. 

While the rest of the group flees, Akos fights and kills Vas. Eijeh walks out onto the balcony. His actions reveal he has almost completely switched personalities with Ryzek now. Ori walks out to stand beside Eijeh. Ryzek claims it’s Isae. Ryzek says if Cyra doesn’t give him an antidote, Eijeh will kill Ori. Cyra thinks about telling the truth that would stop this all but doesn’t do so. Ryzek falls on Cyra’s knife, so Eijeh stabs and kills Ori. 

The renegade spaceship arrives, hovering over the arena. Isae and Cisi pick up Ori’s body to take with them. Akos sees that Ryzek is still alive, only drugged. Cyra has spared him for Akos.

They board the ship, bringing Eijeh and Ryzek with them. Isae is furious her sister is dead, yet Ryzek is still alive. Cyra explains it’s because he’s the only hope that Eijeh’s memories can be restored. Isae says it’s really because Cyra chose Akos’s wishes over hers.

They lock Eijeh and Ryzek up. Cyra tells Sifa she realizes she orchestrated it so Akos would kill Vas, which he hates to do. She says her husband’s death had to be avenged.

They’ll fly in space until a plan is finalized. Cyra goes to check on Akos, who’s washing the blood off and is really upset. He loves that she doesn’t press him to talk, and he kisses her.

Cyra goes to visit Ryzek who says she isn’t really his sister. He says they don’t share blood, and he also shared that his father is still alive. 

Akos wonders what Ori’s touch did when she touched Eijeh, who is still in a stupor, just before she said goodbye and he killed her.

Sifa says she sees war in all futures. Akos puts his arm around his sister and sees the marks there. He knows Cyra thinks they’re marks of loss, but he realizes now that you can get things back, too.


There you go! That’s what happened in Carve the Mark. I hope you enjoyed this recap of Carve the Mark with spoilers.

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