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Crown of Embers by Rae Carson Book Review – “Your enemy could come up behind me, and I would never know, because all I’m thinking about is how badly I want you.” [SPF]

Title: Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Author Info: Bio | Website | Twitter
Publication: Sept 18th 2012 by Greenwillow Books
My entourage of guards struggles to keep pace as I fly down the corridors of my palace...
Story Arc: Series, Book 2
Hardcover: 410 pages
Age Group: Teen, YA
Genre: High Fantasy
Excerpt(s): pgs 189 + 356
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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: Do you like deserts? I don’t—they’re everything hot, dry, and stickily wrong with the world. And they breed little nasties like scorpions (a total ewww factor!). Yet, Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorn books make the desert strangely and fascinatingly appealing. THE MIND BOGGLES. This series of books incorporates evocative fantasy, compelling intrigue, and character growth that is wholly phenomenal in portraying common internal struggles with identity and self-confidence. The Fire and Thorn books demonstrate the power of faith in a wholly non-preachy, non-zealously religious manner and the good ol’ fashion theme of what it means and takes to become a hero. Elisa may just be my personal hero for all time.

Prophecy is a tricky thing, I have learned, full of edges and secret meanings and mischief. Prophecy can feel like the betrayal of a dear friend, the disappointment of a lifetime, the hope of a nation. (198)

Last year, war brewed and overflowed, drenching all the land with death, violence, and despair, and was ended at the hands of a once lost, hopeless girl whom the desert brutally fashioned into a proud, confident, shrewd warrior queen. But, the effects of war haven’t diminished, and Elisa must suffer the games played by the plotting noblemen at court while surviving the decisions she makes to reinforce her power. In Girl of Fire and Thorns, her transformation from shy, malleable, studious princess into a woman slowly realizing her own strength is one of the most fist-pump-worthy moments I’ve read. Carson takes it a step further in Crown of Embers by Rae Carson—Elisa has grown even more, though she is split between that of a clever woman and a timid ruler, fiercely trying to rectify the latter in order to ultimately be recognized as an improvement from the ruler before her. Being surrounded by the palace and overruled by the generals and counts with favor in her meetings, her confidence is shaken. She doesn’t slip into the role of an obedient, submissive queen—she has been reformed with steel, pride, and dignity, but she no longer believes her own power to be enough, a lacking in herself she believes can only be fixed by some outside force to back her. Crown of Embers by Rae Carson is, essentially, her discovery of the confidence to be a true queen and shouldering all that the effort entails.

“This could be it, Elisa,” Ximena says, and her black eyes spark with something fierce. “What you need to rule. To finally grasp the destiny I know God has prepared for you.” (198)

That is the thread woven beneath it all, but as she quests to realize this—literally and metaphorically—there’s so much else happening. Traitors are forged into newly forgiven allies, old withstanding, comforting presences are removed for proper growth, and love is realized anew in a friend, confidant, and loyal guardian who is every bit what I hoped he would be for Elisa. And evil dark-magic-bearing sorcerers plus cunning ploys for revenge spin together to tie in the rest of the plot, filtering a sense of urgency that surpasses the dire circumstances of the previous book.

While Elisa’s growth never fails to stun me blind and conjure admiration in my heart, I’m trembling with unhindered excitement for the rematch sure to go down between the two enemy nations whose feud runs too deep to be permanently squashed because of the events of the first book. I’ll be thrilled to witness Elisa’s next move, for the character left on the final page is no longer just a girl struggling to balance the crown teetering on her head but a woman ready and willing to wage destruction on her oppositions with ferocity and aggressive determination all wrapped underneath an outwardly formidable construction. Elisa won’t be messing around in the next book, and the next steps she takes are sure to be friggin' glorious.

Most Likely to Be Enjoyed By: As a huge fan of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I can safely write to fans of this series that it is absolutely impossible to be disappointed in Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. If you fell in love with Elisa’s profound character growth, the vividly presented fantasy world, and Carson’s amazing plot structuring abilities, then you will love Crown of Embers by Rae Carson with an intensity that provokes an anticipation for the third book that completely exceeds what you felt in wait for this second book. Lovers of traditional high fantasy, which is essentially a story of epic scope riddled with your age-old themes of self-growth and good vs. evil as well as some fantastical elements, you will revel in Carson’s innovative world, manipulation of themes that give a layered texture to a well-structured plot, and Elisa’s becoming of a hero.

Content Warning: There is some detailed violence, in which the main character witnesses several vicious variations of death that can be explored thoroughly enough to warn away a middle grade audience. Implications of having and preludes to sex are included, however they are written with weight and romance rather than handled tastelessly and/or superficially.

Blog Rating: Special Shelf
Thought up by the lovely Small Review, Special Shelf books are unforgettable books that make you emote in extraordinary ways, hold beautiful stories inside and characters you will forever be in love with.

Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quotes/Scenes:

I gaze at his face, memorizing every detail—his pale lips, the line of his jaw, the crisscross of scars on one cheek. And suddenly I have it. The perfect verse.

My heart swells with knowledge as certain as the tides. I whisper, “For love is more beautiful than rubies, sweeter than honey, finer than the king’s wine. And no has greater love than he who gives his own life for a friend. My love is like perfume poured out—”

The floodgates open.

I have just enough time to notice that his breathing is easier, that color returns to his face, before my vision blurs with exhaustion and dizziness. My heart slows to a single thunderous beat every few seconds. Too slow. Am I dying? Have I given my own life for his?

A good trade, I think…

He says, “You have every possible power over me.”


“You have the power of a dear friend, you have all the power that a beautiful woman has over a man who loves her, and most importantly, you are my sovereign. You have the power to command me in everything.”

  1. Good Books and Good Wine
  2. Hobbitsies
  3. Poetry to Prose
  1. The Assassin's Curse
  2. The Girl of Fire and Thorns


Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Also, I'd like to know if you find a stone protruding from someone's belly button to be a turn off?


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

I doubt anyone could make the desert seem appealing to me, but I'll take your word for it... for now. I love that the main character grew so much here, going from being a girl to being a woman, and making you want to read more to find out what she'll do next.
Wonderful review!

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

The opening of your review makes me think of Stolen by Lucy Christopher. That book got me to look at deserts in a similar way (but we secretly know that anything with scorpions in it is GROSS!). Anyway, love this review! I enjoyed the first book quite a bit and keep forgetting there is a sequel! I need to get my hands on this ASAP - especially when it made it to your special shelf!

Princess Ash said...

She makes it sound magical, especially because Elisa loves it to so much. It's the place that fashioned her into who she is now. Almost like home. For now? That sounds ominous xD If you love character growth, you'll love the way Carson writes it here. Elisa's feelings and her self perception is so relatable that you can't help but fist-pump as she slowly realizes her own power, you know? Which is awesome for someone like me who can be so easily invested in the characters! Thank you! :D

Princess Ash said...


Thank you, dahling <3 If you liked the first book, I'm telling you Sam this one is so much better. The first one was almost-special shelf, 4 star-ish. But I had no doubts in my mind when I rated this one. My mind is blown by how awesome it is and how it effected my heart. Read it, read it, read it. AND I KNOW. It feels like forever since I've put something on my special shelf...

Becky @ Stories & Sweeties said...

I have books one and two that I need to read---I've heard so many amazing things about them. Glad you enjoyed it! I did actually enjoy the last book I read that was set in the desert (Vessel) so I can see how it can make a fantastic setting . Wouldn't want to be stuck in one, though! :)

nea barabea said...

The line in the title totally hooked me!! Definitely to check it out!! :)

Princess Ash said...

HOW HAVE YOU NOT READ THESE BOOKS? How can you not have? Must I refer you to the covers. And then the summaries. And all the heavenly praise. YOU MUST READ THESE BOOKS.

I didn't like Vessel when I started it (still have to finish it), so from what I've read I'd say the Fire and Thorn books are SO MUCH BETTER. xD For serious, try them out.

Princess Ash said...

YAY!! That's why I try to be careful when I choose quotes. I figured if the subtext said, 'Hey, I need to get nekkid with you soon' more peeps would be interested xD

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