|The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Personal Copy
Buy It: Amazon
|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.
There’s so much to say about this book. SO MUCH. I adored the first one. There was love and magic and blood and guts plus Elisa is just a total badass. To say I was excited for The Crown of Embers to come out is an understatement. And it definitely lived up to all my expectations. Even after all the heartbreak of the first novel, this one had so much more to deliver. We find out more about the Godstones and Elisa’s purpose. Elisa is the queen of Joy d’Arena! The Inviernos have retreated and all is well. Right? Sort of.
Okay, so I think this has become my biggest pet peeve when it comes to series – but authors need to rehash what happened in previous books at least a little bit. Some authors get it right – Richelle Mead does this perfectly in her Vampire Academy series – some go over it took much and some not enough. Carson falls into the not enough category. Although I adored the first novel, a lot happened in it and I couldn’t remember everything! I would have been satisfied if she gave us something at the very beginning, but she gave us next to nothing. This is seriously my only complaint about the book, but I feel like if I read the two back-to-back now, I will understand so much more from the second one that I might have just missed because I didn’t remember.
That said, there was nothing else about this book that I didn’t love. We get a new love interest for Elisa – remember the last ones all died in the war with the Inviernos – in Hector and I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM. I loved the first book – I did – but I didn’t love either of the love interests that were obvious for Elisa, Humberto and Alejandro. Humberto I mostly couldn’t get behind because of his name. Sorry, Berto. He’s dead now though and Elisa is growing up and moving on! Hector is part of the Royal Guard and is usually Elisa’s personal guard and things just…blossom. And it’s so wonderful because Carson writes their budding relationship so well. And because Elisa is a queen, of a downtrodden country to boot, there are politics involved in romance! It’s even more intriguing to me than it might have been without that little bonus. It’s fantastic. There were a few scenes that tore my heart to shreds (and by a few I mean a lot) but I was still so happy at the end of the book. While the romance is an important part of the plot, there’s also other things going on and Carson didn’t let us forget that. Hector and Elisa simply can’t be together. That’s too easy. But obviously the reasons they can’t be together are totally justifiable and the end will have you all waiting for the next one, just like I am. I can’t say much more than that. I’ve written so much about this couple without even saying much so let me finish by just saying this – Hector takes an arrow for Elisa. It’s a great scene. Remember it when you read.
As far as the rest of the story goes, it’s magnificent. Truly. There are new characters and old ones. New enemies and old ones. A lot of the issues that became apparent in the first novel are still present in The Crown of Embers, but it definitely has its own plot. This is not a filler novel by any means. Things happen. There’s a caravan with a fake queen, a hurricane, a secret island, a temple covered in Godstones. It’s just…fantastic. I read an article recently where Carson said that her first agent for the series tried to sell the book as adult fantasy instead of young adult and I can see why. I’m glad it’s YA – I might not have read otherwise – but this isn’t a throw away series. It’s a great coming of age story not only about Elisa but about the country she reigns over. I hate to make comparisons because there are so many elite novels and series in the fantasy genre these days, but it has that epic tale feeling of stories like The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. But better because it’s YA and there’s a lot of lurrrrve. In case my ridiculously long review didn’t give you a hint – go get this book! (And The Girl of Fire and Thorns if you haven’t read that!)