Fire and Thorns #3
Available August 27th
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss for review
THE STORY (from Amazon)
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 née 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.
The Bitter Kingdom is everything the conclusion of a sprawling, epic fantasy should be – a long and exhausting journey fraught with challenges mental, emotional and physical that brings us around full circle from where we began with Elisa so many pages ago. Ms. Carson dives straight back into Elisa’s story with little to no recap of previous events – and very few hints to help us identify some of the secondary characters who don’t feature as prominently in our memories as Elisa and Hector do – so a quick review of some of the events of The Crown of Embers is recommended. That being said however, though we don’t necessarily recall all the finer details of characters and places, it’s easy to get immediately swept up in Elisa’s search for Hector, the foggy specifics of books past becoming ultimately irrelevant in the face of her desperate search for a way to save the man and the country she loves.
Elisa is the type of character about whom it’s an absolute pleasure to read, starting her time with us off a touch whiny and completely unsure of herself as she’s thrust into an arranged marriage, but ending up a fighter, a champion, a leader, and someone whose strength never fails to be awe-inspiring. In this final installment we get to see the many varieties of Elisa’s strength, the augmented power of her Godstone combining with her growing skill in hand to hand combat to show us just how formidable she’s becoming physically, but it’s her strength as a ruler that truly shines. Her Godstone is what guaranteed her ascension to the throne, but it’s her intuition, her ability to think on her feet, and her compassion that keep her there, leaving a trail of unwavering loyalty in her wake as she risks everything for a chance at a better life for her people.
While secondary to the many challenges Elisa faces as both Queen and living bearer of a Godstone, the romance with Hector has been a highlight in the past and continues to be one in The Bitter Kingdom, providing a comforting warmth just when her journey is at its darkest. We are treated to a few select chapters from Hector’s point of view, something that deeply satisfies in the first part of the story when he and Elisa are separated and things between them are a touch up in the air, but even with the uncertainty we know neither Elisa nor Hector are the type to play games or hide feelings. They are nothing short of truthful with one another at all times, expressing fears and concerns on an emotional level as well as a professional one given Hector is Lord-Commander to Elisa’s Queen, and the two of them together simply delight with the upfront nature of their relationship.
The only minor drawback to this final installment is with regard to Elisa’s act of service, something that’s part and parcel with being a bearer and something that’s weighed heavily on her throughout the series. We do find out what her act of service is, but it’s unclear as to why this particular act is so important in the grand scheme of things. Granted, we’re reminded again and again that God’s plan isn’t necessarily going to be readily apparent and that Elisa’s act of service may not be something significant for years to come, but a small hint or clue as to its role down the line would have been nice. Overall though, The Bitter Kingdom is rich of character and story, and I can’t wait to see what Rae Carson comes up with next.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.