Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Friday, September 28, 2012 with No comments
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Title:  The Crown of Embers
Author:  Rae Carson
Series:  Fire and Thorns #2
Publisher:  Greenwillow Books
Publication Date:  September 18, 2012
Source:  purchased
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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.

I love fantasy.  I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  I desperately wanted to read The Crown of Embers and be blown away, like I was with The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  Was I?  Oh, hells yeah.  Abso-freaking-lutely, I was!  It was amazing and perfect and captivating and when I was reading, the rest of the world dropped away and I had eyes only for this book.  (Seriously, I looked up that first night while reading and realized that everyone in my house had already gone to bed, and it was nearing midnight.  That's how fantastic this book is.)

So, The Girl of Fire and Thorns leaves us with quite the predicament.  (I shall try to remain as spoiler-free as possible for both books, but everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a spoiler, so if you have not read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I suggest you read it and then come back to this review.  I really DO NOT want to spoil this awesome series for anyone.  Seriously.)  Anyway, quite the predicament, indeed.  You would expect Elisa to react as if her whole world has been decimated, but this girl picks up the pieces of her fractured life and moves on.  No hemming and hawing or "What'll I do now??" for Elisa.  She'll have none of that, and neither will her protectors.

I never thought of Elisa as immature.  Sure, she was jaded and world-weary when she began her journey in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but she never lacked maturity.  Elisa was sensible and capable and really proved herself quite competent as a leader in the first book.  Even so, she has quite the battle ahead of her, and she only grows with each new challenge she faces.  I think Elisa is one of my favorite YA heroines because even though she IS young and faces youth-related trials and tribulations, she handles them so gracefully.  She constantly makes her guardians and protectors proud and leaves her enemies dismayed.

After the devastating losses in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, one has to wonder if Elisa will always be so unlucky in love.  And I'll be honest, it was certainly looking that way for awhile.  But lo and behold, her trusted protector steps up to the plate.  I liked Hector's character in The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  I actually even thought then that he and Elisa would make a great match, if she hadn't already been married to Alejandro.  At the very least, I knew they would be great friends and allies.  But, oh, they would make the most honest and fair rulers Joya d'Arena had ever seen...if things were different.  (By the by, the gall of that Ximena had me ready to ring her neck.  I wanted to tell her to quit mothering Elisa so much and just protect her, to let her figure things out on her own and stop meddling.)

Oh, that lovers quarrel or spat or whatever you want to call it near the end of the book was priceless.  But it really showed how much more Elisa had matured, that she could stand there and take that verbal tounge-lashing and remain calm.  Even at 30, I don't know that I would have reacted half as well.  And it was a testament to Hector's character, to how much he cares for Elisa, that he even allowed himself to show so much emotion and how hurt he was.  I love this fictional pairing ever so much and I can't wait to see what the next installment holds for them, especially after that shocking ending.  It is going to be so very interesting to see how it all plays out for Elisa and Hector.  ;0) 

I demand more swooning and less death and destruction, Carson.  Okay, I lie.  I am totally down for the death and destruction...that's what makes this author so awesome...she is sooo not afraid to go there.  But I still want more swooning, especially after all that talk about lovers and lady's shroud (birth control for those of you not in-the-know) between Elisa and her hand-maid Mara.  Oh my goodness...just the fact that Carson even approaches the subject of birth control in her fantasy novel puts her in my good graces.  Seriously, she created a totally responsible, intelligent teenage protagonist that I adore in every way possible.  Whodathunkit?  :P  Um, ME!  And I say unto thee, behold the brilliance that IS Rae Carson.  8-)

So much is revealed in The Crown of Embers, and yet so much still remains a mystery.  There is some serious world-building done in The Crown of Embers, even more than we saw in the first novel, and it is tantalizing, you guys.  Their God put these people in this world, but how long ago was that, and what was here before that?  Still so many unanswered questions about the godstones and the Invierne and the magic that surrounds them all.  It's thrilling, and it makes me want to crawl inside the author's head to see how she ever invented such a brilliant world and story to accompany it.  I never want Elisa's story to end.  NEVER!

Rating:  Photobucket ^nth  :D


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