Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Crown of Embers

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.

My Rating: ****

What absolutely gorgeous high fantasy Rae Carson writes. I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but this tops that. I liked the story better, the romance better, Elisa better, everything. Elisa is a wonderful heroine; she's so easy to like and to sympathize with. She's so uncertain of herself at times, but then she'll be so completely kick-butt at others. In this book, Elisa is now queen and she's not necessarily doing a good job of it. But she grows into her new role, all the time dealing with assassination attempts, unfriendly magic, constant battles and a quest for the power to face her enemies.

And then there's Hector. Hector is a true friend to Elisa and I loved watching them interact. I won't say more about how it goes on from there, but that I loved it. Their relationship unfolded naturally and perfectly. Elisa has not had it easy in the romance department (which you'll know if you've read Girl of Fire and Thorns) and I'm sorry to say that Rae Carson isn't giving Elisa any easy breaks here either. There's no simple happy ever after for Elisa - well, maybe, hopefully, after book 3 The Bitter Kingdom, but we'll see. I didn't love the way Crown of Embers ended, but I didn't hate it like I hated the way the first book ended. Was that vague and cryptic enough? I'm really trying to avoid spoilers.

I do wish I had re-read the first book again. There were a couple times when characters showed up and I couldn't remember who they were, making my brain constantly spin wondering why exactly I was supposed to hate certain people.

For sensitive readers: There's nothing explicit, but there is a major plot point (especially towards the end of the book) about Elisa's sexuality. I wouldn't recommend this book for younger teens. But I would recommend it for just about anyone older. It's beautifully written. My favorite type of fantasy.

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