THE CROWN OF EMBERS (Girl of Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson
410 pages, hardcover
Available tomorrow (Sept. 18, 2012)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Review copy provided by publisher
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.
Rae Carson really is a rockstar author. THE CROWN OF EMBERS, the second book her fantasy series, starts off after the Inviernos have been run off (but not defeated--they're still lurking, threatening and causing trouble), plunging the reader directly into the murky political waters of Brisadulce, Elisa's new home and capitol of her new kingdom.
Elisa is a deeply nuanced character. She still battles her weight, though it's not nearly as much an issue as before. However, food is still a comfort to her. Despite her insecurities--her weight, her foreignness, her inexperience, her worry over her people--she's got a core of strength that is based in her faith and her Godstone. While she's secure in her religion that, too, is changing and evolving as she learns more of the history behind it and the Godstones. Intelligent but inexperienced, Elisa has her heart in the right place but she doesn't always do the smart thing. However, her tricksy political maneuverings give hint to the powerful Queen she will become.
Her husband dead, Elisa is now solitary ruler of a foreign land, fumbling her way through the unfamiliar world, with the heavy weight of power and responsibility on her young shoulders. Luckily, she has a small cadre of trusted and incredibly loyal people around her, including Hector, her personal guard, and Ximena, her nurse and protector. There's a spark between Hector and Elisa but they both try to ignore its existence because of the supposed impropriety. Any bit of warmth is a comfort to Elisa as she is surrounded by enemies and mired in red tape and political shenanigans.
A quest disguised as a visit to a potential suitor's home provides Elisa with the chance to reconnect with her beloved desert as well as to her Godstone and to escape the sweltering, dangerous city. This quest also plunges her and her group into life-threatening danger and fascinating discovery.
The set-up for the final book has me drooling in anticipation. Sadly, THE BITTER KINGDOM won't come out until next year. Still, THE CROWN OF EMBERS is an incredibly satisfying novel, one that will definitely tide me over while at the same time whetting my appetite for the dramatic conclusion of this fascinating trilogy.
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