Monday, August 12, 2013

The Crown of Embers, Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)
My entourage of guards struggles to keep pace as I fly down the corridors of my palace. 

"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."

*Spoilers for the first book will of course be inevitable, and I think there might be a few little ones about this book* The sequel to the excellent Girl of Fire and Thorns started off a little abruptly, but it was a good second book. There were a lot of events independent to the first one, whole new problems for Elisa to deal with, and new challenges within herself that she must come to terms with. Oddly enough, even though I just read the first book, I had a little bit of trouble falling back into the world and absorbing myself. At about 90 pages in, I was enjoying the book, but I didn't feel immersed in it, if that makes sense. Still, eventually I got into the book and really enjoyed it. 

The romance was so transparently obvious, it was almost funny. After maybe just a few pages, I knew that the "man she is falling in love with" would be Hector, her guard. It's just odd that it didn't happen before. I think the romance of this series is really interesting; in the first book, there was perhaps a triangle of sorts, but both Alejandro and Humberto died in the book. In this one, there is also kind of a triangle (although not a romantic one really), but I'm not going to tell you if they die. The series is way less stereotypically, annoyingly YA than other fantasy and science fiction series like it, and for that I am eternally grateful. For once, the entire story does not center on the main character going back and forth between two men. The world is developed, there is war, and there are way more important things going on. 

What Elisa did to the kitchen staff after the poisoning incident was very, very unnerving. She has them flogged even though most of them are innocent. I realize that it's a show of strength, but these are innocent people who she causes so much pain to. She was almost as bad as the General, although not quite as extreme. That part made me really uneasy, even if Elisa did feel very bad about it. 

The religion is developed more in The Crown of Embers, and I was glad of that. It's quite interesting, and as I have remarked before, I think it odd that all the characters just take it for granted that God exists in their world. What if the Godstone could be explained with science? That would be a twist, wouldn't it? But I think it's pretty clear that in this world, God certainly exists. It's one of the basic building blocks of the fantasy land.  Still, the so-called Godstone could just be a genetic mutation, couldn't it? 

The Crown of Embers wasn't as compelling or well-plotted as the first book. But it was still very good, and very suspenseful. I raced through it, much faster I think than the first book, which was odd. It was slightly shorter. 

Despite how obvious the romance was, I really, really liked it. I also liked the character of Tristan, one of Elisa's suitors. But he's not part of the romance. Still, I really liked how awesome he was. There were a lot of great new characters in The Crown of Embers, and I would most definitely recommend it if you liked the first book.  I can't wait for the final book in the trilogy, The Bitter Kingdom, which is coming out this month. 

410 pages. 

Rating: ****

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