Friday, August 16, 2013

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Title: The Bitter Kingdom
Author: Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns, book #3
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The epic and deeply satisfying conclusion to Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.

I had to go grab my reviewer hat for this one, otherwise I'd just be a fangirling mess all over this review, and nobody wants to see that.  I've been a major fan of Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy since I picked up the audiobook for The Girl of Fire and Thorns last fall.  And then I immediately inhaled Crown of Embers, which will forever remain my favorite in this series.

And then comes along The Bitter Kingdom, to further shake things up and break my heart a little more.  I shall try to keep this review spoiler free, but I make no promises because of the aforementioned fangirling mess I am liable to become at any moment.  Let's just kick it off with my favorite aspect of this series:


If I had to pick a male character from any book I've read to spend the rest of my life with, this guy would be it.  He's loyal, honest, caring, strong, clever, and cunning, and about a billion other wonderful adjectives that all equate to his being pretty effing awesome.  I love how he's stood by Elisa from the beginning.  Watching this relationship develop was like watching one of those flowers that only blooms at night:  magical.

I wouldn't say Elisa's had her pick of suitors, but of all those that she has been romantically linked with throughout the series, this guy's my favorite.  I saw him back before Elisa ever did.  So, he's pretty much just been waiting for her to see him.  Well, that, and a bunch of other people to die.  Which brings me to my next point, since this review isn't (all) about Hector...

death, Destruction & adventure

There's been a whole lot of all of that in this series.  Some caused by magic, some caused by Elisa herself, and some caused by other powers that be.  I'm going to blame all of the death on the author, though.  She's been compared to George R.R. Martin and aptly so.  Just remember this, kids, don't get too attached to anyone, and you'll be okay.  That is no less true in this final installment...just a fair warning.

The more obstacles these characters were faced with, the stronger they become, and the more excited I got. I thrive on all of the fight scenes and the running for your life scenes, and yes, even the "Elisa's butt is tired from riding on a horse so long" scenes.  Even when there's no action, there's still always something going on in this story.


These books are a quest for the source of magic in this world and a search to bring peace to the kingdoms. But they are also a journey of self-discovery for Elisa.  She has matured so much over the course of these books.  From an overweight princess, married off to a king she's never met, to joining a revolutionary movement, to becoming a strong ruler and making the really tough decisions that office dictates...oh, yes, she has definitely come a long way.  But she's not so grown that she could come up with a better name for her mare than Horse.  :0)  Though, that might have something to do with her fear of the gentle beasts.

Spanish influence

I love how the Spanish influence encompasses nearly every facet of this series.  From the setting to the foods prepared and the importance of religion, it's everywhere.  Religion is VERY important in these books, but it's not off-putting, as it might be in other stories, because it has a place in this world and in character motivations.  Anyway, I'm glad I listened to the first book because it helped with a lot of pronunciations in the other books.  I just hate when I've been saying/reading something wrong the whole time!

I'll never be able to fully convey how much I love these books, and I'm sure I'm forgetting to tell you plenty. I think it's always hardest to write reviews for the books you absolutely loved, and this was one of the hardest because I'm saying goodbye to one of my favorite series.  So, I'm just going to let my inner-fangirl sum it up for me:  Epic finale! Epic! Aaaaaahhhhh! I want to crawl inside Rae Carson's head and live there. I want more from this world. I want more books from Rae Carson. IwantIwantIwantIwantIwant!!!

Be sure to stop by next Friday for my interview with Rae Carson as part of The Bitter Kingdom Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours!

Rating:   photo 5-1.png

the Fire & Thorns series
The Shadow Cats (Fire and Thorns, #0.5)The Shattered Mountain (Fire and Thorns, #0.6)The King's Guard (Fire and Thorns, #0.7)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)

About the author:

I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I moved to Ohio to marry my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. We live in Columbus with my teenaged stepsons, who are awesome. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.

Find Rae:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. Can't wait to read these books! I've read the first but have lots to catch up on. You've made me want to move them up the TBR pile. Great review Jen

  2. Love this series sooooo much! The Bitter Kingdom was one of the best ends to a series I have ever read. I am going to miss them all so much!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  3. I'm definitely going to be reading this series soon! It sounds like everyone has loved it! :) And it's nice to know all the books are out, so I don't have to wait in agony for the next one! :)

    Liza @ Book Crook Liza

  4. I think your love for the series comes through. xoxo

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  5. I read the first book and I haven't been able to keep reading the rest, but now I will asap. So for that reason, I skimmed your review a bit in case it became spoiler-y through your fangirling (which I'm afraid to do all the time so I totally would get it if you do). But I love your review format and I can't wait to read about it all! Spanish influence...but HECTOR ESPECIALLY MY GOSH. I haven't heard a bad thing about that guy!

  6. This review made my heart race all over again about this series! LOVE LOVE LOVE. I completely agree. I'm also gonna be stealing Hector from you because he's MINE. Everything you said is a YES for me. LOVE Elisa's growth, Love the Spanish influence, and the author's ability to shock us with deaths and magic. I just need to say it a few more times. LOVE LOVE LOVE


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