Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: The Bitter Kingdom - Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Series: Bitter Kingdom Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on August 27, 2013
Published by Greenwillow Books
Pages: 433
Read From: 5.4.15 - 5.9.15

Elisa is a fugitive. 

Her enemies have stolen the man she loves, and they await her at the gate of darkness. Her country is on the brink of civil war, with her own soldiers ordered to kill her on sight. 

Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lucero-Elisa ne Riqueza de Vega, bearer of the Godstone, will lead her three loyal companions deep into the enemy's kingdom, a land of ice and snow and brutal magic, to rescue Hector and win back her throne. Her power grows with every step, and the shocking secrets she will uncover on this, her final journey, could change the course of history. 

But that's not all. She has a larger destiny. She must become the champion the world has been waiting for. 

Even of those who hate her most.


Dear The Bitter Kingdom,

With the conclusion of Crown of Embers, I was very eager to see what you would bring next - the finale to this wonderful epic fantasy trilogy.

Elisa's kingdom stands on the brink of civil war and invasion. Her commander and love of her life, Hector, has been taken by the enemy and it's up to her to retrieve him, find and destroy the last source of magic for the Inviernos, keep her country from falling into civil war, reclaim her throne, and restore peace to the kingdoms. With the help of her handmaid Mara, the Invierno ambassador Storm, and Belen, Elisa might succeed and finally fulfill her destiny as God's Chosen. And then she might die, like so many bearers before her.

You, like the others, were an emotional rollercoaster. Elisa has grown into a very strong, capable, intelligent protagonist, but she still has doubts about herself - about her destiny. However, she doesn't let it keep her from doing what needs to be done. And at last, she's listening to her heart. She takes wise council from her friends, but she's no longer just doing what she's told or what's totally best for her kingdom. She's also doing what's best for her and it honestly made me cry to see her finally come full circle and go after her desires. Though she and Hector's romance is still cheapened by Elisa's physical desire for him, I still very much root for them and enjoyed their romance. Mara and Belen are the emotional couple with a lot of history between them that we don't know if it'll ever be resolved. And I'm not telling. ;-) For some reason, though, Storm has become my absolute favorite character. He's a fairly quiet person; cautious, honest, sarcastic, and loyal.

I was admittedly a little concerned about the plot pacing. For two books, we've had journeys across deserts and I wasn't sure I could do another one. Desert journeys are only so interesting for so many books. In the beginning, I started getting a little bored. But your pace picks up after a few chapters and we get more political intrigue and less aching limbs, sandstorms, stark provisions, and everything else that goes with traveling. Even better - we get to see the Invierno kingdom! And we get to learn a bit more about the Godstones, the animagi, the magic system, and the Joyans and Inviernos themselves. After that, your pace quickly picks up and trots its eager way to a very, very exciting and heart-pounding conclusion, where I then became extremely worried for some characters. Rae Carson proved in the first book that she's not afraid to kill important characters off, and the last time a first-person trilogy suddenly split narrators - well, it didn't end so great.

The only thing that really bothered me about you, Bitter Kingdom, was how many questions I still had at the end. About the Godstone, the prophecy, the Joyans and Inviernos, and so many other things. And even this didn't bother me that much because it leaves a ton of room for a potential spin-off series in the same world. For the trilogy, enough questions were answered that I wasn't left feeling confused and disappointed. Admittedly, Elisa's fulfillment of her prophecy wasn't at all what I was expecting, and I'm still not entirely certain how I feel about it, but it worked in the end.

Your trilogy, Bitter Kingdom, has been a fun and emotional ride. Your world is new and refreshing; your characters deep and sympathetic. At times you have dragged, but I have overall enjoyed you a lot.

Feeling satisfied,
~ Mara A. ~

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

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