Series: Fire and Thorns #2
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.
Summary from Goodreads.It's always disappointing when a sequel isn't as good as the first book in a series. Thankfully, you don't have to worry about that with Crown of Embers. (I worried you there for a second, didn't I?) This book is just as fantastic as its predecessor; it may even be better.
What made me love Crown of Embers so much? Well, where do I even begin? Elisa is so drastically different from who she was at the start of the series. However, she still feels like an imposter in her role as queen. As she tries to be a good leader and navigate the relationships in her personal and political lives, Elisa has to cope with impossible questions and tasks. Throughout all of this she makes plenty of mistakes, and thus remains one of the most realistic and relatable protagonists I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. She breaks the usual trope of a perfect girl with perfect looks thrown into an impossible situation that does everything just perfectly.
Another aspect of Crown that had me cheering? Hector. Do you guys remember when I said that I wished Hector had been the love interest in Girl of Fire and Thorns? In this book, my wishes came true. (Thank you, thank you, Ms. Carson!) Their relationship is different from the majority of YA romances. It's complicated and confusing and frustrating- basically everything a real life romance is.
Then there's the world. I just adore the fantasy world that Carson has created. Every setting in which Elisa ends up is so vivid that I feel as though I've been there. And as in all great fantasy worlds, there are many parallels to our own, political troubles and religious fanatics included. How Carson explores religion is flawless- she demonstrates that, at its heart, religion can be a beautiful thing. But she also shows how it's so often twisted into justification for human actions.
Like Girl of Fire and Thorns, Crown of Embers is, for the most part, slowly paced. This is most definitely not a bad thing, though. If anything, it just means that Crown can be enjoyed all the more thoroughly.
*5 stars*A Quote from the Book: "It's utterly infuriating, the number of people I've encountered in my life who claimed to be the authority on God's will."
What do you think makes a great fantasy world?