The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson Book Review
Friday, September 28, 2012 8:00 AM
Author: Rae Carson
Published: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
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“I love you the way a drowning man loves air. And it would destroy me to have you just a little.”
― Rae Carson, The Crown of Embers
*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for The Girl of Fire and Thorns*
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. (Goodreads)
I decided to do away with star ratings. It was too limiting and I was becoming more and more indecisive. I don't want to pick from a scale of 1-5 or 1-10, and I hope my reviews will speak for themselves.
The Crown of Embers just blew me away. Usually, I'm disappointed in a sequel, but this was far from the case with this series. The Crown of Embers was even better than The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I never lost interest for a second, even if there wasn't necessarily action. The political intrigue, character development, and enthralling storyline had me from the beginning. I really felt that Joya d'Arena came alive for me with Carson's words. Her vivid description of this fantasy world, a hybrid of Spanish and Italian inspiration, left nothing to be desired. Her writing style flows beautifully, and my eyes were aching to see this world for real.
Elisa and her country are still recovering from a battle with the Inviernos, and Carson manages to show us how Joya D'Arena is faring in every part of the country without even traveling there. We capture bits and pieces of the country's suffering from Elisa's travels, but we mainly witness its troubles from her discussions with advisers and other political figures. Elisa is also having difficulty ruling as a foreign queen, and Carson does not disappoint in showing scenes where Elisa's queenship is challenged or the queen herself is threatened. As always, Elisa is unfailingly clever in all of her decisions, but she also struggles with her insecurity as a capable queen, causing her to make mistakes along the way. She is a very believable character, and truly awe-inspiring. I liked how there was less focus on her eating habits and her weight than in the first book. There are scenes where she still deals with her low self-esteem, but these were done really well and seemed to flow naturally. I still wish we had a little more background about why she was compulsively eating in the first place and why she gained weight. But overall, her appearance is not a major concern in this book, and we learn so much more about her character and her loyalty to her loved ones. I just love Elisa, and I admire her greatly.
Hector. I never thought I'd wax poetic about a guy named Hector, but this romance was all I could have dreamed for and so much more. When Humberto died in the last book, I pretty much figured Elisa and him were over. Death is kind of a deal breaker in a relationship. Well, desert boy and the queen weren't really going anywhere with her being married and all. Oh wait, buh bye Alejandro. After Humberto kicked the bucket, I was rooting for Hector to be her next beau. So I freaked out when I heard he was, in fact, the romantic interest. I loved him just as much as I did in the first book. Their romance is so much more than lust or simple romantic love because Hector is also Elisa's friend and protector, adding so many intricate layers to their relationship. There is no easy route for the romance between a queen and the commander of her guard, and I respect Carson for not choosing the easy way out as their struggle to be together is evident. I love these two together. Hector is too sweet. And while the romance is not the main focus of the book, it is certainly an important addition.
In The Crown of Embers, Elisa comes even closer to her destiny as the Godstone bearer. She also has some close brushes with death as an assassin emerges. It was such a fantastic, adventurous story. Crown of Embers is not all happy go lucky, but the dark parts just make it all the more richer and complete. I loved when Elisa put her smart hat on and devised a plan. She is something fierce. And the characters on the sidelines, from devoted friends to vicious backstabbers, are all wonderfully developed.
All I have to say is read this book now. There's no reason to wait. It's that awesome, and I finished it in record timing. I could not put it down. The Bitter Kingdom isn't expected until fall of 2013. This is going to be a long and brutal wait.