The Crown of Embers
by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Published: 18 September 2012
Greenwillow Books, Hardcover, 410 pages
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1.
She does not know what awaits her at the enemy’s gate.
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 trial 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.
It kills me whenever a book is bland at the start but amazing at the end. Those sort of books are such a pain to rate and yes, The Crown of Embers was one of those books. Before any further elaboration, let me just declare that I knew it would come to be Helisa. I simply knew from the very start. Alejandro was too weak while Humberto… he gave off a “temporary dude” sort of vibe. I didn’t expect him to be killed off, just… otherwise occupied after his love affair with Elisa? But what matters is Helisa finally happened in The Crown of Embers!
Now that I’m done announcing my new ship, we shall move on to the actual reviewing.
Rae Carson seems to have a habit of making a book unbelievably dull in the beginning but end off with a bang. If you’ve read my review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I said the same thing then. The Crown of Embers, like its predecessor, had an insanely snore-worthy start. It was rife with crazy court politics which was wholly believable yet a little overdone. With Elisa as the young & foreign new queen of Joya d’Arena, it was expected that others would question her capability but it was unnecessary to portray every single boring detail of dull court life and politics.
Thankfully, Elisa finally took action around the middle of the book (why does it always take her half a book to realize she needed to be proactive?) and went off a – much anticipated – journey. With that, everything changed. The pace upped and the weight of everything that depended on Elisa became much more apparent. Hector and her relationship blossomed (cue epic fangirling) and she uncovered secrets about magic and sorcery that could change her entire world.
Towards the end of the novel, I was crazily cheering Elisa on. There was major character development in her ever since the start of her expedition and I utterly loved it. She learned to trust her instincts and have faith in God – incredible feats for someone as worrisome as her. However, it would be nice to know more about the mysterious deity in the story. Sure, there was some vague history but so far, I don’t exactly see what supports the people’s strong belief in their God.
I’ve mentioned in my review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns that Rae Carson is completely unafraid to kill off characters that readers hold dear. Hence, I was a little surprised at the low death rate in The Crown of Embers. However, that could also mean there would be some major deaths in the final installment of the trilogy, The Bitter Kingdom. I sense some impending crushing feels.
Overall, I enjoyed The Crown of Embers a lot more than the first book of the trilogy. Despite the bland beginning, the rest of the book was overflowing with self-discovery, action, mystery and swoon-worthy romance. Moreover, the utterly badass ending will have you pining for the final novel which is – thankfully – already released!