Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)Title: The Bitter Kingdom
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: August 27, 2013

In the deeply satisfying conclusion to the bestselling Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen Elisa travels 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. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.

I will start by saying I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy.  I didn't quite love it, but it was still very entertaining.  The Crown of Embers was amazing.  I absolutely loved it.  And Carson ended it on such a mean cliffhanger (I had to get the third book right away).  I'm so glad I wasn't reading this series when it first was published.  I would have been going crazy with anticipation.

The Bitter Kingdom is divided into four parts, or the four basic plotlines in the book.  This review is full of spoilers.  Readers beware!

Part 1
Elisa, Belén, Mara, and Storm leave Selvarica to rescue Hector.  I was slightly shocked when I saw the first "Hector" chapter.  While it makes sense for the reader to know what is going on with him (and his own chapter would be the only way for that to happen, him being kidnapped and all), the only narrator up until that point was Elisa.  It was surprising to see.

Part 2
Now a party of six, they enter Invierne.  I have an issue with Part 2.  Plotwise, it is pretty much not needed.  If I were making a movie out of this book, I would completely cut it out.  It would likely be costly to produce, and almost nothing happened that actually moved the plot forward.  For example (and again I warn about spoilers), if they hadn't gone to Invierne, they never would have killed Lucero.  Okay no big deal.  The Inviernos were always trying to find a way to the zafira anyway.  So the negotiations between Elisa and the Inviernos would still work exactly the same way.  The only thing that can't be done without going to Invierne is Storm's honor being restored and being made the heir of Crooked Sequoia house.  But that is honestly just ignorable.  Basically, while I enjoyed Part 2, it was a waste of story.

Part 3
Okay so if we skip Part 2, we would have a much smaller Part 3 since the group (add on yet another person) is leaving Invierne and eventually travelling under the mountains in old mine shafts.  I loved how Elisa took complete charge once they got to Basajuan.  

Part 4
This consists of the group retaking Bresadulce.  Not much to add here.  It's a very necessary and action-packed section.  

I liked the introduction of Mula/Red.  And I loved the character development of Storm.  He was still grumpy, but he was lovable.  I'm not sure what to think about Elisa completing her service.  It was so insignificant to the story.  

So what do I love about this book?  Well, even though I think it's obsolete when it comes to the story, I loved that we got to see Invierne.  And I really loved that we were able to see Inviernos in their homes and just acting normally.

What did I not like so much?  The flow in this book could have been a little better from one section to the next.  And while I enjoyed the "Hector" chapters, a slightly more distinct "Hector" voice would have been preferable.  

So what did I think?
I really enjoyed this book.  It was not my favorite in the series, but it was a good ending to a wonderfully magical series.  Recommended to fantasy fans, especially those that enjoy the religious aspect of fantasy.  And definitely recommended to fans of Rae Carson.

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