The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Book Three of the Fire and Thorns series
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
SPOILER FREE REVIEW! I think. Well, read at your own risk. Definitely spoilers for Book One and Book Two. But I think I did a good job of keeping spoilers out of this review for Book Three.
Ahhhh, I loved this book so much! I can't believe this series is over! I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns two years ago, and I didn't absolutely love it. It was good, but I wasn't a huge fan, and I didn't really remember much of the book. Two years later, I attempted to read The Crown of Embers, and loved it! I read it because I knew I'd have to read this one - this one being a requested eARC.
Well, despite the fact that I didn't completely love the first book, didn't really remember it, but then really liked the second book, I was completely blown away by this conclusion! The second book ended in a cliffhanger, and I know a lot of people who read it but haven't had the chance to read The Bitter Kingdom were in agony. I was lucky in that right after I read book two, I jumped into book three. So, the cliffhanger didn't seem so bad.
Carson splits this book up into several sections. First, Elisa is on a mission to get Hector back. Then, she needs to go to the land of Inviernos to settle things. Then, she needs to go back to Cosme's land, to meet with Cosme and Alodia (the meeting of the queens that was mentioned at the end of book two).
With Elisa is Mara, her loyal handmaid, Belen, her loyal friend and guard (since Hector was captured), Storm, an Invierno-turned-loyal-subject, and a new addition - a small child named Mula. She's about Prince Rosario's age, give or take. While chasing Hector's captors, Elisa and her companions stay at an inn, where they see this young mixed-breed girl being treated badly. Elisa frees her of the inn, and Mula joins them in the search for Hector.
I feel like this isn't a spoiler, but they eventually find and rescue Hector. Actually, he was doing a pretty good job of rescuing himself. But anyway, that was nice. One of my favorite scenes is when Elisa tells him she has engaged the two of them to be married. Poor Hector!
So Hector comes with them to the Invierno capital. Things happen. Storm and his sister Waterfall get them an audience with their father (I believe it's their father). Things happen. Then Waterfall joins the group in heading back to meet Cosme. More things happen. Then, the final battle.
I loved the plot of this book. Not once was I bored, or about to throw my Kindle at the wall. And Carson has a way of throwing things into the plot that you don't see coming, but that are totally necessary to the story. I like what she did with Elisa and the oasis - that was unexpected.
The romance is so sweet. I am convinced that Hector is the best male heroine in Young Adult literature that I have encountered. When I say "best", I mean he is honorable, loyal, courageous, selfless, committed... I could go on. He is so sweet and powerful and protective and amazing. Margot from Epic Reads and I started a meme on Twitter - #GoodGuyHector. He's an all-around good guy! He's definitely one of my favorite heroes.
Did I mention that Hector's point-of-view is occasionally thrown around in this book? YES! It's not just Elisa! We get Hector's view on things every few scenes! It's awesome!
I think this book - and series - ended extremely well! You know that sad feeling you get when a series is over? I experienced no such thing. Carson ended this series so perfectly, and I loved it. I was so happy when this book ended - especially the way it did.
What I Did Not Like:
This is going to sound ridiculous, but I've had this problem since the beginning of the series. Usually, I'm really good with remembering names of people, places, things, etc., in fantasy novels and books in general. But I seriously could NOT keep up with the amount of names for all the places in this book. And some of the people's names slipped through the cracks as well. There are so many terms and people and places that aren't in English that I had a hard time remembering. For the life of me, I have no idea what any of the places are called - except Brisadulce, and Joya something.
I feel like this can't just be me. I had this problem in book one, book two, and book three. Usually, I do an excellent job of categorizing and remembering all of the weird terms and names. In this book (and series)? Not so much.
Would I Recommend It:
Yesssss! This is an awesome high fantasy series that I started out sort of shaky but ended up completely loving. The romance is amazing, but the politics and other plots of this story is what made it truly unique.
4 stars. I hope any and/or all of you reading this review will check out this series! I'm so glad I stuck with it.
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