Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter KingdomThe Bitter Kingdom
by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #3
Publication date: 27 August 2013
Greenwillow Books, Hardcover, 433 pages
Source: Library

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS AND THE CROWN OF EMBERS.

The champion must not waver.
The champion must not fear.
The gate of darkness closes.

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 né 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 is 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.

Rating: ★★★

Where do I begin? Elisa’s journey in The Bitter Kingdom was by far the best and most interesting in the trilogy but as a conclusion, I felt it was completely anticlimactic. This book had high highs yet extremely low lows and honestly, I had a really hard time rating it. Was this a good read? Yes, most definitely. But was it satisfying? Far from it.

The Bitter Kingdom starts straight from the middle of Elisa, Belén, Myra and Storm’s journey to rescue Hector, who had been taken by Inviernos at the end of The Crown of Embers. I have to admit, I’m overjoyed a map was included in this book, otherwise, the geographical location of Elisa and her constantly traveling entourage would’ve been a complete mess. I do wish they included that map in the first 2 books though.

Despite the secrets (regarding the world’s history, Godstone and feud between Inviernos and Joyans) being revealed in almost every chapter, said secrets still failed to reveal as much as I’d like about the world in this trilogy. Carson seemed to only have answered the most demanding questions surrounding Elisa and her story, which was good, but it felt like she didn’t put much effort into making this novel something more than simply good.

However, there are still aspects of The Bitter Kingdom that I loved, such as Elisa’s humongous growth in character. I’m guessing the lacking wording-building and ability to engage readers (or maybe just me) in the story could be due to the amount of work put into Elisa’s character development. She grows more and more with each passing book, which was definitely a joy to read about. But I found the jadedness Elisa adopted in this book a tad overdone. It was like she confused wisdom with world-weariness and that was somewhat annoying.

On the other hand, I did like how Carson presented Elisa’s frustration at being kept in the dark about many things for so long without making her sound like a whiny young queen irritated at not being taken seriously by others. Even if she probably did use to think like an immature child and might always crave the approval of her sister, Elisa’s reasons for being frustrated clearly changed from those of a kid to that of a great ruler.

The romance in The Bitter Kingdom was relatively meh as compared to that of the previous book. Maybe because Elisa and Hector have finally settled most of their relationship issues but if you expect to swoon a lot while reading this, you might be disappointed.

All in all, I do think The Bitter Kingdom was an entertaining read but far from a favorite of mine. The Fire and Thorns trilogy as a whole was unfortunately not as amazing as I’d hoped even though it’s not downright bad. It simply was… meh. Quite unmemorable, in my opinion. Would I recommend this? I’m not sure as I usually only recommend books I would gush crazily about and this just isn’t one of them. Fantasy lovers, there are definitely much better books in this genre out there but if you’re dead set on reading this trilogy, it won’t hurt either.

Adelena

Review: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers
by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Published: 18 September 2012
Greenwillow Books, Hardcover, 410 pages
Source: Library

Goodreads | The Book Depository | Amazon

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.

Rating: ★★★★

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!

Adelena

Stacking the Shelves (#3)

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Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews where all the books we got recently would be featured – no matter physical or digital; bought, borrowed, won or gifted.

Hey lovelies! I usually post my Stacking the Shelves posts on Sundays but I was too busy baking yesterday, hence the delay. Anyway, this post would be a condensed one of all the books I’ve gotten for the past few weeks since the last time I posted a Stacking the Shelves post was about a month ago (the holiday season sure was busy!).

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For Review:

  • Three (Article 5 #3) by Kristen Simmons [via NetGalley]

Bought:

Borrowed:

Thank you Macmillan for providing my an eARC of Three by Kristin Simmons! As many of you know, it was listed in the Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR and I simply can’t wait to start on it! These Broken Stars was actually more of a pre-order that finally arrived (YAY!) but I decided to include it anyway. As for the borrowed books, all are titles I’ve been pretty excited about although I’ve already read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and loved it. However, that was all the way back in 2011 so I decided it was time for a reread before moving on to the sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and finally awaiting the last installment, The Retribution of Mara Dyer.

Overall, I’m very ecstatic to dive right into these reads! What books have you been stacking you shelves with this week?

Adelena