The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Please excuse my rambling if this review gets to that point but listen up – I liked this book more than book one and that rarely happens with a second book in a series…if you liked book one I am going to go on a limb and say you will definitely want to get moving on this book if you haven’t read it already.
Elisa is now Queen of Brisadulce due to the death of Alejandro. Along with the title, she has inherited a kingdom that is recovering from war and she is put in the position where she must make decisions that are the best for her people and not necessarily always what she wants. This book has a lot of action and is fast paced but it also includes the politics that Elisa has to face in trying to run the kingdom and through all of that it is very clear she is developing into a strong woman without losing who she really is. At the heart of the story, Elisa is still trying to figure out what it means to be the bearer of the Godstone and how to manage/use the power. Because of her role as the bearer and the Queen she has some enemies (seen and unseen) that forces her to consider who she can really trust as well as how she rules the kingdom.
Ximena and Mara are part of the inner circle that help her to navigate the politics of the Quorum as well as the Court. In addition, Belen makes a return and there are new characters introduced. With Belen I was happy to see his and Elisa’s relationship eventually shift back to how they used to be before he betrayed her. I found the characters were all well done and helped push the story forward so that it didn’t just focus on Elisa. Storm is great – I found myself annoyed with how much of a smartass he was but Elisa started to give it right back to him which I loved. It was clear he was really only doing what was best for him but there was a definite shift in his purpose and role by the end of the book.
I need to spend some time on Hector…I honestly didn’t remember him from the first book. Whether that was because he wasn’t in it too much or I was stuck with Humberto – I don’t know. It has been a while since I read book one so I will blame that. Regardless, I love him.
Hector clearly takes his responsibility of protecting Elisa very seriously and along the way it becomes clear he has developed feelings for her. She, of course, doesn’t always see it so clearly but it was there. I loved how honest he was about their fate due to their roles and who they are. My heart broke a little when they were on the island having a conversation about what could/couldn’t happen between them. I also love that Elisa decided to stand up and tell Hector what she wanted. The relationship between them is definitely based on friendship and respect.
It is clear to see that Elisa has grown throughout the novel. By the end of the book, she has made some clear decisions about what she will do for the kingdom as well as for the people she loves. She has a lot resting on her shoulders for a seventeen year old but there were still moments of levity and she can deliver a sarcastic line with the best (which I appreciate). Elisa has a rough road ahead of her and will have to face some things head on but it seems like she is prepared to do that and I am definitely looking forward to diving into book three to see what happens.
Anyone who enjoyed book one will definitely enjoy this one as well and if you haven’t started this series yet and like fantasy, definitely check it out. I myself will be diving into the final book as soon as possible.
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