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Title: Crown of Embers
Author: Rae Carson
Year Published: 2012
Synopsis: In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.
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. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.
Review: This book was absolutely fantastic. It was completely different from The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and I think that made it even better. While the series opens with a story of epic adventures and fighting and a girl maturing from someone not qualified at all to be a leader to someone who wins a major battle for her people, this book really delves more into the politics and Elisa's emotions. Now that her husband is dead and she is left to rule her country alone, being a war hero won't keep her happy or loyal or even safe for long.
Being on the political side of things for this book was really interesting, even though I'm not one to go looking for books about politics and such. I think it really helps expand the world. I mean, it's one thing to be able to create a world and describe its physical attributes, but it's a completely different thing to be able to describe its government in a way that makes for an interesting story and keeps the same feel as the previous book. I love Carson's writing style, and she does an excellent job keeping the reader engaged.
I also loved the way that Elisa grows and matures in this book. She learns important lessons, and gives up things that could help her be the most powerful ruler to save friends and rule on her own terms with her own strengths. And then there's the budding romance (that I totally called from the end of Girl of Fire and Thorns). I was very happy with how it was done - not too much, not too pushy, and just enough at the right time. I also love how Carson included same sex relationships like they were nothing out of the ordinary.
In my opinion, the way religion is dealt with is done very well. A monothiestic religion is practiced, but there is magic and fantasy and all sorts of things built in to it. And although they refer to "God," it's very clear that the religion is a fictional one and not meant to offend or make a statement about any existing religions. I personally think that's a fine line to tread, and that Carson does an exceptional job with it.
I would totally recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA Fantasy novels. Especially fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling series, Kiera Cass' The Selection, and all those types of books. Politics, fantasy, religion, and epic adventures come together for one amazing story. I can't wait to see how Elisa's story will end! 5/5 for sure on this book!