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A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

By 7:54 AM , , , ,

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3)
    by: Rae Carson

Publication Date: Aug. 27th, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC received from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 448 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars

The epic 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.

I read both The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers earlier this year and I would have done pretty much ANYTHING to get my hands on a copy of The Bitter Kingdom. I was desperate to find out how Carson would wrap the series up and whether or not Elisa would fulfill her destiny as the bearer of the Godstone. The Bitter Kingdom picks up right where The Crown of Embers left off, and we are instantly thrust back into Elisa's world. This time, however, we do get a few chapters in Hector's POV! I think this was such an awesome addition (and not because I am a Hector fangirl) but because I think it's important that Carson details his captivity for us readers. Hector is such an important character to Elisa and I loved watching them cope with being apart and be able to jump right into his thoughts and see how he was faring while she was on her way to rescue him.
When we first meet Elisa in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, she wasn't a very likeable protagonist. She lacked confidence in herself, felt inferior to her older sister, and felt the need to gorge on food to make herself feel better. However, after being married off and kidnapped, Elisa slowly starts to transform. After returning to the palace, Elisa is far from the same girl who was kidnapped. She has faced hardships she never dreamed of. She had to learn to survive on her own and not depend on someone else to take care of her. In The Crown of Embers, Elisa is still transforming into the woman she's meant to be. She now has a kingdom to run and has to face betrayal at every turn, not knowing who she can truly trust. She also sets out on quest to discover the true nature of the Godstone she carries. I love how unyielding Elisa becomes in The Bitter Kingdom. She vows to rescue Hector and makes decisions for the good of her kingdom and her people. Yet, she also manages to secure her happiness as well- which let's face it- she deserves! What I absolutely loved the most about Elisa was the fact that she learned to feel beautiful in her own skin. It doesn't matter what anyone else but her thinks and I think that really shows maturity on her part. Sure, Hector finds her beautiful, but what's important is that she finds herself beautiful.
I also really enjoyed the friendships in this book. Elisa has such loyal friends who would do anything to assist her. They offer her counsel, but do not try to usurp her authority or try to take over. They are bound by their loyalty to one another and I was on the edge of my seat because I wanted everyone to survive and make it through. We do have a new addition in this book, a half-Invierno girl who Elisa and Mara rescue from an outlying village. She names herself Red Sparkle Stone and she really has personality. She is around the same age as the young Prince Rosario and her courage and bravery were really inspiring. She wanted to do whatever she could to help, no matter the danger.
Once Hector has been rescued, Elisa makes the decision to go to the Invierne capital to see what she can discover there. Walking directly into enemy territory is no simple feat. But I've got to say, Storm really does shine in this book. Up until now, we always questioned his loyalty and there were certainly times in this novel where we wondered where his true allegiance lay. Storm has been shunned by his family, so he is not exactly welcome in the capital. However, Elisa realizes their best chance at peace is to come to some kind of a compromise with the Inviernos. Watching how she does this is absolutely brilliant. She eventually finds herself back in Basajuan where she meets with both Queens Cosmé and Alodia to discuss the fate of their country and their status with Invierne. Again, we see Elisa stand up and do what she must in order to obtain peace and I think her sister is quite surprised (and pleased) at the woman Elisa has become.
Let's talk romance for a minute. Holy Hector and Elisa! I absolutely think they are the ultimate power couple. They complement each other so well and both would sacrifice themselves for one another. Elisa trusts Hector's judgment implicitly and she knows he would never withhold the truth from her or be afraid to question her decisions. She is certainly a little nervous about how Hector will handle the news that they are betrothed, and at first I really want to smack some sense into him! Crazy man. He got his act together though and I love their scenes together. Carson shows how a simple touch between these two means so much and how much they admire and respect one another. And I really appreciate that she doesn't glaze over the intimacy between Hector and Elisa- she handles it appropriately for the age group of readers and I'm happy she stayed true to herself and her characters and the choices they made.
Overall, I think Carson did an excellent job of wrapping up such an epic trilogy and I loved watching Elisa evolve such a strong, self-assured woman.

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  1. I think I need to start this series!! I am liking the sound of the characters and the story-line! And your amazing review makes me want to have this book on my shelf!! I also liked that you said that Hector and Elisa are like the power couple! Loved that!

    Great review!!

    1. Thanks Magen! I loved this series!! They are totally the power couple! Their romance doesn't really develop until Book 2, but when it does... it's that slow, sweet, sensual build up!

  2. So I only skimmed your review since I am hoping to start this series one day, but what I read has me super excited. I have been looking for more fantasy lately and this seems to be the series I need!

    1. Yes! I think you'll really like this one! Because I did! Hahaha!

  3. Great review! I haven't read this series. I'm not much of a fantasy reader but I must admit that I am intrigued.

    1. Lately I haven't been much for fantasy either, but if it has romance, I can do it! LOL!

  4. I need to start this series. I have seen a lot of positive reviews for this one, and I really like the sound of plot and the characters. I don't usually read fantasy but I am going to make an exception for this. And I cannot wait to experience the romance in this one! It sounds perfect! I'm glad you enjoyed this Jessica and that the series wrapped up well! Great review, girl! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

    1. :D I love fantasy, but haven't really read much of it lately. This one really did it for me though.


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