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Reaction to... The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

I know some people don’t dig the bejeweled covers with the model at their center, but I think they’re all really stunning. It could be for reasons as shallow as they’re sparkly or it could be more obscure than that even to me.

SUMMARY: The epic and deeply satisfying 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. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.

You guys. This is absolutely… …

Well, I was going to say absolutely my most anticipated sequel release of the year but then I started thinking about Thankless In Death, Storming the Castle, The Fiery Heart, Daylighters, and I could go on and I started to think that when I get all rambunctious and excited my memory short-circuits and I start spouting untruths akin to blasphemy.

Even my cat, Sam, is giving me a look that says

Anyway, I can barely remember what I wrote in the message to Harper Collins to convince them to let me read this book (probably that excitement-makes-my-brain-go-kaput thing I mentioned) but I know it probably alluded to willing enslavement among other unsavory behaviors if only I COULD HAVE THIS BOOK.

They sure know how to read beneath all that flowery language and abundance of compliments and found the desperation I was doing little to hide AND I THANK THEM.

I read THE BITTER KINGDOM in April, read THE CROWN OF EMBERS in October of 2012 and I can still tell you what this series is about. That’s skillz, my brethren, so believe it, fear it. What? I meant Rae Carson. Surely you know I have more modesty.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS introduces an insecure, unhappy, god-chosen Elisa who’s not comfortable in the shoes of “the chosen one” let alone in her own skin. She’s malleable and is pushed, pulled, toyed with and has no clue as to how much untapped potential and power she truly possesses, which, by far, makes the brightest spot of the series—her growth and transition into one of the most formidable, powerful heroines I’ve ever loved. Her journey to that inner strength begins in GoFaT (funny isn’t it!), climbs in THE CROWN OF EMBERS, and makes the distance at a profound height in THE BITTER KINGDOM. Her opponents range from terrifying pale-skinned magic users to sly dark-skinned country and noblemen, and within that are political disarray and a mysterious prophecy to take on as well. Why wouldn’t you want to read a series in which a girl, through personal struggles and vast accumulation of loyalties, triumphs against them all?

I’m a character girl all the way down to my underwear (my feet are a little undecided) but even I can appreciate the depth and complications of the story line. Carson takes her beautiful eruption of a fantasy world—so vivid, startling, and well-excavated—and wields it in EVERY INCH of the plot that has spanned the trilogy, filling all the holes at the right moments with the secrets of her world she’s left buried in the desert of Joya d’Arena and under the cold stones of the bitter kingdom of Invierno and calls them to rise. Like a darn pro and I’ve found her machinations of torture against us readers brutal and delightful.

Yeah, probably.

Storm chuckles. "Queen, chosen one, horse thief. Let it never be said that you are not accomplished."

Oh, God, this review wasn’t supposed to be so long, but I can’t not divulge on each amazing fictional specimen on every page of THE BITTER KINGDOM! Elisa is undoubtedly one of my favorite heroines of all time, and even to my surprise her growth STILL CONTINUES. And it’s marvelous and beautiful and, gosh darn, I’m so freaking proud. Her acceptance of everything she’s become, all that she was, and what she still is is disarmingly FEELS-RIDDEN. But, man, her supporting cast is exactly that, determinedly supportive and fiercely loyal, and deserves as much mention as my keyboard and your attention will allow.

I think what draws these people to Elisa is her willingness to forgive and a power that leaves them awe-stricken. Belen, once traitor always a friend, is on my FAVORITE ASSASINS LIST, and deserves nothing less than the whole heart of Mara, Elisa’s BAMF lady-in-waiting. Then, there’s forever room, OBVS, for Hector, a deep-in-the-bones good, honorable man, friend, and so much more than I could EVER have hoped for my chick. Storm, an unexpected, grudgingly loyal ally, is surprisingly my favorite person for comic relief. Surprising because of his usual stoic nature, but everything that comes out of his mouth is caresses to my very receptive ears. And the newest addition of Mula/Red just caps the awesomeness on these guys. Another lovable child added to the cast, with so much courage and strength and lovable qualities, it makes me glow better than the biggest baddest glowworm that Elisa, essentially, has found a son in Rosario and perhaps a daughter in this fantastic little girl.

She has been with us for such a short time, yet she was willing to risk her life for our cause. "Weren't you scared?" I ask.
"Yes. But it was a good scared."
"There's a good kind?"
"Oh, yes." Her voice drops so low I have to strain to hear. "Orlin made me scared all the time. Scared I would starve. Scared I would get too cold. Scared he would hurt me again or get so mad that he'd throw me to one of the men. That was nasty bad scared." She pauses, scuffing her boots against the floor. "But you never hit me, even though I'm your slave."
"You're not my--"
"And you always feed me. You call me a true name. Now, when I'm scared it's not because of meanness. And today I chose my own scared. It's always a good scared, when you get to pick it for your own self."

  1. Hector’s %(*&^$DGG)^ to Elisa’s &%$@DF@$
  2. The Sexy Nervous Bedchamber Scene
  3. Mula Becomes Red Sparkling Stone
  4. Red Picks Her Own Scared
  5. Mara Says No to Belen and Smiles
  6. Everything Said By He Who Wafts Gently with the Wind Becomes as Mighty as the Thunderstorm
  7. And especially… everything
"You look beautiful," Alodia says.
I startle at the compliment. Then I smile. "I'm beautiful to the one person who matters."
She nods. "*&^^&$FGD's mouth will drop open when he sees you."
"I hope so. But I meant me. I'm beautiful to me."

What more do you need me to say? I’ve told you ALL OF IT. Every ounce of feelings in my overburdened body has been poured into this review. If, after ALL THIS, you don’t read this book I will slay you with whatever is at hand (I don’t know how much damage a keyboard will do, but I’m friggin’ willing to find out).

Hardcover / 400 pgs / Aug 27th 2013 / Greenwillow Books / Goodreads / $17.99

I received a copy that I got in April from Harper Teen via Edelweiss.


Princess Ash said...

You really love this series! That's awesome and it makes me want to read it, too! I have the first two books, I'll have to make them a priority soon. The whole series sounds amazing. Great review!

Princess Ash said...

YES! I loved this one and a MILLION hearts to the sexy nervous bedchamber scene and EVERYTHING with Storm! I was NOT expecting myself to fall for him, but I did. I really want a book with him now! Anyway, this was SO AWESOME. Carson needs to write more. Soon. :)

Princess Ash said...

The Sexy Nervous Bedchamber Scene? OBVIOUSLY I need to read this now. I'm not sure why I haven't picked up the second book yet (I really liked the first one), but man, I'm so excited now! I don't think I've read a single bad review for this book yet. SO glad you liked it!

Princess Ash said...

Ahhh I just love your reviews! And I really love your enthusiasm for this series. Seriously, how have I not read them yet?! Well, it's because I haven't found the time, not because I'm not interested. Because these books sound sooo flippin fantastic! I am equal parts character-girl and plot-driven-girl so to hear that both aspects were done so amazingly well is music! I'm tired of being left out; hopefully I can read this, this year! The advantage will be that I won't have to wait in between books!

Princess Ash said...



I need this.

That is all.

Princess Ash said...

I do, I do. Like almost more than life. It's definitely among my top favorites list, for serious. It's the perfect blend of fantasy and character-driven story line. It's an impeccable series with so much emotion and resonance AND YOU MUST START IT SOON.

Princess Ash said...

I love you for loving this book like me <3 <3 THAT'S SO FANTASTIC TO HEAR, really. Because I feel like there are still so many people who haven't tried this series and it's really remarkable and beautiful.

Oooh, a book with Storm? No wonder you're so awesome: it's because you're naturally made of brilliance! YES, I need another novel ASAP.

Princess Ash said...

Oh, yes, it's one of the most perfect romantic scenes written in a book. OBVIOUSLY, MY FRIEND. I would have your head if it weren't for that fact that I loved you so, and would see no harm come to you, and you wouldn't be able to read this without it. YOU'LL LOVE BOOK TWO as well. It made my top five of 2012 and this book surely makes it in my top faves of the year ALREADY.

Princess Ash said...

Oh, Aylee, my only hope is that I've sparked some small flame of inspiration in you to read this series! It's fantasy and emotion and growth wrapped up all into a series of spectacular making. DON'T BE LEFT OUT ANY LONGER, read this as soon as humanly and bloggerly possible ;D

Princess Ash said...

*nods* Sexy nervous bedchamber scene. INDEED.

*grins foolishly*


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