The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Rating: 4.5 stars
Copy Obtained: Checked Out From the Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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."
Review: I love this series. Love it. Elisa is an atypical heroine, but still one you can get behind. The cast is fairly large, but I had no problem keeping everyone straight, which is a good sign of characterization. (I LOVED Storm and Mula/Red.) The plot moves forward at a steady pace, and includes unexpected twists and turns, and plenty of tense moments and action scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. (Anyone else notice the nod to Lord of the Rings? The snow forces them to travel through dangerous ancient mines... it's totally Moria!) There is a history among these fictional characters that goes back thousands of years. There are multiple different cultures, different religions, and different opinions and perspectives among the people. Not every question the book asks gets answered, but there is the feeling that it's okay to have unanswered questions. It is as Father Nicandro says: "Never stop asking questions, Majesty. God honors truth seekers" (391).
I had a few very minor complaints. Elisa's godstone is a huge part of this series, plus she is the protagonist of this story, so I expected her godstone task to be correspondingly large. As it was, the task appeared to me to be a sort of weird, even irrelevant, detour from the real story. I liked the ending, though it felt somehow a little too rushed in some places and a little too drawn out in others. Only a little though.
Like I said, the complaints are small. On the whole, this novel and this series are definitely worth reading. It's satisfying, exciting, and fulfilling. There's no other series like it.