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by Rae Carson
Published September 2012
Book Two in the Fire and Thorns Trilogy
Rating: 5 out of 5
Summary from Goodreads: In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.
Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.
For some reason, I don't consider myself a big fantasy fan. It's just not the genre I get the most excited about. And then I read a book like The Crown of Embers and remember that, oh yeah, I really like fantasy. Especially this trilogy. I think I enjoyed The Crown of Embers even more than The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which is rare and awesome in a trilogy.
The best part of The Crown of Embers, in my opinion, is how consistent Elisa's character is. She grows so much throughout both novels, yet her actions are never too surprising or too out of the blue. Elisa's thoughts and actions always feel like they are hers. Elisa is a flawed character for sure, never quite sure of herself enough and sometimes too afraid to act when necessary, yet she is a likeable character. She has a good heart, and does what she can to protect those she cares about.
The romance in The Crown of Embers is subtle, but it is there. Hector is Elisa's second love, and though there was the potential for it to feel false or rushed, it was a natural direction for Elisa. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Elisa and Hector grow. The torturous end had me in near panic because I've grown to love these character so much.
Rae Carson is a master world-builder. I never felt so confused that I didn't know what was going on, but I never felt bogged down by descriptions either. I have no idea how she does it, but she is good.
All I can say now is that I absolutely cannot wait until August when the final book in the trilogy, The Bitter Kingdom, comes out. I have a feeling it's going to be the perfect end to Elisa's journey, and I'm very excited to read it.