The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2)
September 18th 2012
She does not know what awaits her at the enemy's gate.
Elisa is a hero.
She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.
Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.
To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.
If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.
You may or may not know this, but I aboslutely adored the first book in the series, Girl of Fire and Thorns. As such, as soon as I got this book in my hands I pretty much absorbed it. Unlike with the first book, I could not put it down and I am so, so, so happy to say that it is just as good as the first book.
There are so many things that I love about this series. Not least of all it's amazing heroine, Elisa. The characterisation is these books is brilliant for most of the characters, but Elisa's is just so great. Over the course of the first two books she has grown and changed so much, and she's such a great, interesting character. In this book, rather than strategising and defeating an army of mages, she is trying to navigate being the queen of Joya D'Arena, as well as trying to understand her feelings for Hector and what she is meant to do with her power. I loved that the romantic subplot was just that, because even though I adore Hector and their romance, there are so many other interesting plotlines in this series that I wanted to read about even more, but everything was beautifully interwoven. And seriously, Hector and Elisa are going to friking kill me because they are literally so in love with each other like and then THE WAY THIS BOOK ENDED AND I DON'T KNOW WHEN I'M GOING TO GET THE BITTER KINGDOM BUT I NEED TO KNOW *SOBS*
Sorry. These books are so hard for to write about because on the one hand I love the way that they're crafted and I think that they're skillful and smart books and I want to write seriously about them, but on the other hand I just want to run around fangirling because they're so good. So I'm trying to do both. (But seriously if you're reading this and for some reason you have not read this series and you have the slightest inkling of an interest in fantasy then read them! They're accessible enough for people who aren't major readers of fantasy, and so much fun to read if you are.) Another one of my favourite things about Crown of Embers was how the book was balanced between court politics and Elisa going on a journey to find out more about her powers. I love fantasy politics. In Game of Thrones, pretty much all of my favourite parts are the parts set in King's Landing where everything is game playing, and using wits rather than brawn, and I felt like this was kind of similar to that. And there was a magical quest, which is always fun. Plus, a character who you initially think is going to be an enemy, but is actually sort of alright by the end (and I hope it stays this way. Seriously. Storm is hilarious. I love him.) The best thing about it though is the seamless way it all works together. The way I'm talking about it probably sounds like it would read like two different books, but it really doesn't.
And I still think that the world-building is fantastic. I always think that the fact that religion is such a huge part of the story will make me uncomfortable (not that I have anything against it, just that sometimes stuff in fantasy can be allegorical and can seem like really God is giving her to do the strength to do all the things she does, like Christian God not fantasy religion God, which again is fine but is not something that I like to read personally and I'm going to stop talking about religion now because I feel like I'm digging a hole for myself), but it doesn't. It's just an integral part of their culture, and I like seeing religion explored in a fantasy context because I don't think we really see enough of it. Also, we get to see some more of Joya D'Arena itself, as Elisa leaves the capital, as well as getting to see some more of the capital. And in the next book I think she goes to Invierne, which will be so exciting. I'm desperate to know what Invierne is like and to find out more about the Inviernos and why they have powers and I have so many questions and I hope, I desperately hope, that the Bitter Kingdom answers at least some of them. And I completely trust that the series will have a satisfying conclusion, whatever happens.
I wanted to write more, but I think I would just be repeating myself (even though there are so many smaller things about Crown of Embers which I loved), so I will just say that it certainly lives up to the first book for me and I am so ready to read the third. I need it. Now. But I am forcing myself to wait until exams are over before I buy any books so only a month a week to go! *sobs*
TL:DR READ THESE BOOKS GUYS PLEASE