Crown of Earth, by Hilari Bell, was published in 2009 by Aladdin. It is the sequel to Sword of Waters.
“As a hostage…I’m afraid Weasel matters only to me.” The moment Prince Edoran hears these words from Weasel’s trusted friend Justice Holis, Edoran knows he has to find a way to rescue Weasel, who has been kidnapped in Edoran’s place. Edoran’s task is far from easy. Life-threatening challenges greet him at every step as he searches for Weasel, forced to hide his true identity from all he meets along the way. The journey is full of surprises and revelations, as Edoran learns for the first time the real meaning of hard labor and the cost of a meal. The story builds to a stunning climax, where the true nature of the magical objects of Deorthas is at last revealed.
Well, I’ve been hoping since Sword of Waters (and to some extent, Shield of Stars) that we would learn more about what the sword and shield actually are—and we do, at last, in Crown of Earth find out. And now the format of the books makes much more sense. I wish that it had been foreshadowed just a little bit more, or that the reveal wasn’t so quick, but all in all, I’m satisfied with how that part of the trilogy turned out.
I liked Edoran’s growth as a character; I’ve always enjoyed the “somewhat weak and powerless prince/king (or princess/queen) becomes awesome” plot, and Edoran has some fine moments in the book where he discovers what it is to be an effective leader. I wish that his background had been more clearly revealed, however, because some things brought up in Sword of Waters weren’t settled very satisfactorily in Crown of Earth, including his banning of the cards. Other things that didn’t make sense were Edoran’s strange visions when Sandeman is laying out the cards and Edoran’s thoughts and exchange with Arisa when Arisa first lays out the cards (pretty much all of Edoran’s attitude with the cards I found muddled and confusing, really, even though Bell was clearly attempting to explain it).
I liked Arisa better in this book, although to be honest I liked her fine in Shield of Stars—it was being inside her head in Sword of Waters that irritated me. And even though we’re outside of her head for this book, the conflict between her and her mother was very well done and the tension of it could easily be seen.
So, all in all, Crown of Earth is a fine end to a fine trilogy (although the closing lines are incredibly cheesy). There’s nothing particularly spectacular about it, but it’s a well-crafted, enjoyable fantasy.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“What are we going to do now?” [Edoran] asked. “Keep following the troop and see if they lead us to your mother? Or check another of those message drops of yours?”
“Those troops couldn’t find my mother for over a decade when they worked for Pettibone,” Arisa said. “What makes you think they can find her now? Besides, I think the men she sent out of the city were just a diversion. I think she escaped by sea and probably took Weasel with her. But I know all her old hideouts, and she’ll be trying to contact me. I can find her.”