The Crown of Embers is written by Rae Carson. It was published in 2012 by Greenwillow Books. It is the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thrones (which I reviewed here) and a third book, The Bitter Kingdom, is still to come. Carson’s website can be found here.
“Elisa is a hero.
She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country’s ruler should be secure. But it isn’t.
Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.
To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trail of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.
If she’s lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.”
“A ceiling beam catches my eye, toppled across a pile of adobe rubble. At one end the wood grain shows pristine, but it blackens along its length, shrinking and shriveling until it ends in a ragged stump glowing red with embers. A wisp of smoke curls into the air.
The outer ring is rife with these glowing reminders of the war we won at such a cost. Months later, we still cannot wholly quench their fire. Father Nicandro, my head priest, says that since magic caused these fires, only magic can cool them. Either magic or time.
My city may burn for a hundred years.”
“I’d like to teach you to use some kind of weapon,” he says. “Maybe a quarterstaff?”
“A quarterstaff is not very subtle,” I say. “Or handy. If a kidnapper comes at me, what am I supposed to do? Say, ‘Excuse me, my lord, while I pull my enormous quarterstaff out of my bodice?’”
Warnings: Violence and kissing, as well as displays of homosexuality that may be perfectly fine for some but may not be for others
Recommended Age Range: 15+
What I Liked:
I love the world Carson has built, with its customs, people, cultures, and the like. The political intrigue is marvelous; it’s suspenseful but not too overdone, and Elisa really grows in this area throughout the novel, realizing her mistakes and recognizing that she needs to do more.
The moment I finished the first book and read the summary for this one, I immediately said, “I know who her love interest will be.” And I was right. I absolutely loved the romance in this book, although in some parts it can be annoying and a little heavy-handed.
The ending was, I thought, a real indication of the growth of Elisa as a character. I thought Carson did a marvelous job with really demonstrating Elisa’s strength and will, as well as her knowledge about what she needed and what she wanted. Simply put, Elisa was great in the last twenty pages.
What I Didn’t Like:
As I mentioned above, the romance does get a bit tedious. Also, how old is spoiler anyway? I kept getting different ways of viewing him: at first I thought he was in his early 30s, but then Carson kept saying how young and boyish he looked, so now I’m thinking early 20s, but he knew the king when the king was a boy, so maybe late 20s?
I also was a bit confused about the whole writing on the wall part in the beginning of the book. I have no idea why it was there, or how they went from that to the main goal of the plot.
The Crown of Embers is a great continuation of the world set up by The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It’s heavier on the romance, which is, at different times, both a good thing and a bad thing, but the character growth is well done and fantastic to read about, and the ending certainly leaves you wanting to read the final book.
Coming Up Next: Magyk by Angie Sage