Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: The Crown of Embers - Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Series: Bitter Kingdom Trilogy #2
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on September 18, 2012
Published by Greenwillow Books
Pages: 410
Read From: 12.13.14 - 12.19.14

Elisa is a hero. 
She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't. 
Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled. 
To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trail of long-forgotten - and forbidden - clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom - despite everything - she is falling in love with. 
If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do like the cover. I like the color scheme and the gem in the middle. I don't even mind the character impersonator, as she's not very prominent. The cover art is nice, but it doesn't wow me.

Characters: Elisa has grown so much as a character since the first book. She's more confident, proactive, and strong. At the same time, she still has some crippling doubts about her abilities. She is still scared and worried. It makes her human, and still gives her areas in which to grow. I can't wait to see what Elisa is like in Book #3. She's not so helpless in this one. And she also decides to learn how to defend herself. She's going to be so awesome when she's come into her own. And can I just say how much I love Hector, Captain of the Royal Guard? He's so awesome! Caring, protective, but also prepared to help Elisa stand on her own two feet. I also loved Martin, for however short of a time he was in the book. I've always liked Xemina, Elisa's guardian and nurse, but I started to dislike her in The Crown of Embers. I didn't like how she treated Hector, though I suppose she thought she was doing what was only right. Storm, a new character, is one of my new favorites, as is Tristan. Storm is mysterious and interesting and Tristan is just nice and adorable.

The Romance: Is it giving things away to say that Elisa and Hector start developing feelings for one another? No, I don't think it is. ;) I love Elisa and Hector, so I was totally okay with the pairing, and their romance was very sweet. My only complaint is Elisa's constant focus on wanting Hector physically, and worrying about getting pregnant. It cheapened their romance, and I hate it when that happens.

Plot: Elisa is the queen of Joya d'Arena, after Alejandro - the king she was forced to wed - dies. She has conquered the invading Inviernos and is now working to rebuild her kingdom and build faith in her people and counselors that she can rise to the task as ruler. However, the Inviernos will not stay down, and as assassination attempt after assassination attempt piles up, Elisa begins to suspect that someone within her own court is working with the enemy. Her Godstone is strangely quiet after her miraculous feat, and she still doesn't know how to harness it's power. In order to defeat the Inviernos, Elisa will have to draw more power. And in order to do so, she must travel to a place of myth, rumored to be the source of greatest power. But tapping into such raw power will come at a very high cost. It feels like there's more at stake in The Crown of Embers, and the pacing is much faster than it was in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Multiple characters come close to death - and some don't recover. After what this Author did to Humberto and Alejandro, I didn't put anything past her. No character was safe! With the intrigue and mysterious quest to find the source of power, the plot was much more engaging and complicated. And I always enjoy complicated and engaging plotlines. The world building continues to amaze me. I love the Arabic/Hispanic flair she's chosen for her world, and I enjoyed learning more about the Inviernos and Joya d'Arena and its politics.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. This is a series where the present tense is almost entirely unnoticeable. I kept thinking it was in past-tense. That's how present tense should work. You forget that it is.

Content: Elisa and Mara talk about "doing it," but not in any real detail.

Conclusion: Torture! Pure torture! Ahhh! I'm glad I own The Bitter Kingdom! This is definitely a trilogy that improves with each book. I liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but it felt slow at times, and I couldn't wait for the moment that Elisa got her mettle. The Crown of Embers was faster-paced, had a lot more intrigue, and a romance I thoroughly enjoyed.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of high fantasy. 

Others in This Trilogy:
1)The Girl of Fire and Thorns
2)The Crown of Embers
3)The Bitter Kingdom

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