It’s official! Rae Carson can do no wrong. This trilogy was an utter delight and I plan on making as many people read it as possible. Over the past three books, these characters have become true friends and I’m a little lost now that the series is over. I have a feeling that these will become comfort reads in the same way that Harry Potter and a few other favorite books have.
*** Spoilers below if you haven’t read the first book ***
3.5 Stars – The Crown of Embers
The Crown of Embers takes place a little while after the events of book one. Elisa, is now the queen and still quite young in a foreign place. She knows she has it within herself to become a great ruler, but she’s dealing with a steep learning curve and assassins at every turn. It’s hard to instill confidence in your loyal subjects if attempts are constantly being made on your life.
Embers is definitely the weakest book in the trilogy, but mostly because it has to deal with the aftermath of book one and lay the groundwork for the final book. It was still a well written book and an enjoyable read. The narrative picks up speed in the second half and takes Elisa to some very interesting places. The best part about this installment is that we get to know some great new characters as well as learning more about minor characters from the first book. Make sure that you have book 3 ready if you read this because you are NOT going to want to wait to find out what happens!
5 Stars – The Bitter Kingdom
If only all series enders were written as well as The Bitter Kingdom. Carson managed to take Elisa to unexpected places while still creating a satisfying ending.
The novel picks up with Elisa and her cohorts on the trail of Hector and his kidnappers. It isn’t an easy journey with everyone on the lookout for her, but she’s determined. I don’t want to give too much more about the plot because it’s more fun to go into it not knowing what’s going to happen. I will say that the most satisfying aspect of Bitter Kingdom is that Elisa has finally grown into herself and her power. She still makes mistakes, but her journey from pampered princess to wise queen is perfectly written. There are very few adult books, let alone young adult books, that have such a naturally developed character arc.
There are a few new great characters (of course!) and reunions with some characters from book one. Everyone gets their time to shine in a propelling plot that makes this immensely readable. Carson is working on a different level than most fantasy writers and I’m honestly surprised there wasn’t more buzz around this series. This would make a killer movie trilogy.