Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Monday, September 9, 2013
The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)
Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow
Series: Girl of Fire and Thorns #3
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Bought
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.
Summary from Goodreads.
Can we all just take a moment to absorb the fact that this trilogy is over? Because I still haven't fully grasped that. The Fire and Thorns trilogy is one of my favorite high fantasy series, and one of my favorite series, period. So unsurprisingly, I'm a little crushed that it has ended.

That said, The Bitter Kingdom is the perfect ending.

Elisa's growth is impeccable, and she remains one of the best protagonists ever. She's a character who despite being God's Chosen One, despite being a queen, finds her true power in her intelligence. I adore smart characters and Elisa is not only incredibly smart, but proud of it. Furthermore, she doesn't have a "perfect" body ("perfect" meaning it doesn't fulfill society's ridiculous standards), but she's healthy and beautiful and has become confident anyway. Her strength lies in herself, not her Godstone.

And then there's Hector. In the words of Epic Reads, "HECTOR HECTOR HECTOR." There are actually chapters in his point-of-view, and they are fantastic. His voice is completely distinct from Elisa's and getting inside his head gives really great insight into his character. If you didn't love Hector before (which is a problem and we need to talk if that's the case), you will adore him.

Another amazing aspect of The Bitter Kingdom is the world-building, which I'm pretty sure I said for both of the previous books, as well, but it's especially exceptional in this installment. Elisa traverses into Invierne, which is so drastically different from Joya d'Arena. Not only is the physical setting gorgeous and so easy to picture, but Carson has created an entirely different culture from that in Elisa's home. Brilliant!

I also want to add a little shout-out to Rae Carson's writing style, which is amazing and enrapturing. Plus a shout-out to all of the supporting characters, especially Mula and Storm (I just wanted to hug Storm at so many parts of the story, though he would probably hate that). And one more shout-out to all of the religious themes which are done so flawlessly and without any definite answers so that the reader has something to think about.

In conclusion, thank you, Rae Carson, for three magnificent books.
*5 stars*
A Quote from Book: "I think sometimes when we find love we pretend it away or ignore it or tell ourselves we’re imagining it. Because it is the most painful kind of hope there is.” 
How crushed do you feel when you finish a beloved series?


  1. I'd feel very crushed, and from what you mentioned, this sounds like a great series to make you feel that way.

    I remember mentions of the book, when it was published, and everyone was saying it's a great book. Maybe I'll try buying it if I see it in a bookstore.

    1. I hope you do! Girl of Fire and Thorns is AMAZING.

  2. I loved this book too. I have to admit, I liked Girl of Fire and Thorns but I didn't love it. So it took me awhile to read the next book, but when I did, I absolutely loved it and so I had to read The Bitter Kingdom right after. Elisa is such a great, strong heroine and him. There were also so many great secondary characters. And the ending was perfect. Great review! ~Pam

    1. I loved Crown of Embers even more than Girl of Fire and Thorns, too. Thank you, Pam! :)

  3. I'm so sad this series is over. I loved following Elisa's journey and her growth from a shy girl who ate her feelings to a strong, powerful queen capable of ruling a country. GREAT series!

    1. She's grown so much! Such a great character!! :)

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