Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Bitter Kingdom

The champion must not waver.
The champion must not fear.
The gate of darkness closes.

Elisa is a fugitive.

Her enemies have stolen the man she loves, and they await her at the gate of darkness. Her country is on the brink of civil war, with her own soldiers ordered to kill her on sight.

Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lucero-Elisa ne Riqueza de Vega, bearer of the Godstone, will lead her three companions deep into the enemy's kingdom, a land of ice and snow and brutal magic, to rescue Hector and win back her throne. Her power grows with every step, and the shocking secrets she will uncover on this, her final journey, could change the course of history.

But that is not all. She has a larger destiny. She must become the champion the world has been waiting for.

Even of those who hate her most.

Beth says 5 Stars...
This series hits perfectly in my sweet spot of epic high fantasy. I adore the complexity of the universe, with the intense mythology, religious overtones, and games of power and politics. The Bitter Kingdom delivers on the promises of the other novels in the series, and then throws some more epicness on top of it just because it can. The pacing is pitch perfect; the action flows from one event to another without ever seeming rushed or boring. Moreover, the plot progress actually makes sense with the characters and their motivations. There's a logic to how everything unfolds that I thoroughly appreciated. Another joy of reading these books is Carson's writing; it's so enrapturing. I found myself sneaking a few pages in wherever I could because I didn't want to stop reading. The only issue I had with the book was that I wanted more! I do really wish that more of the history of Invierne had been included because the glimpses Carson provided into their culture were utterly fascinating.

The characters are beyond wonderfully written. All of them have layers that Carson exposes throughout the novel and the relationships between them are equally nuanced. Elisa grew by leaps and bounds from the beginning of the series to the end, starting as a naive, reasonably incompetent princess and becoming a strong and resourceful ruler. What's done so well is that you can see, in retrospect, that Elisa had those qualities in her and they were merely revealed by hardship, change, and allowing her a chance to explore herself. Another thing that's totally wonderful is the friendship between Elisa and Storm. There's love there, but it's completely platonic; no love triangles here (thank goodness). Unfortunately, it's rare to see a non-romantic or antagonistic relationship between a male and female character. Another smart thing about the book was how Carson didn't introduce a ton of new characters at the end. We meet a few new individuals, but they're all necessary to the plot and actually add to the story.

If you haven't read this series I'm not sure what I can do for you besides suggest you pick up Girl of Fire and Thorns and barricade yourself in a room for the rest of the day. Then, surface to pick up the rest of the series and devour them like I did.
book from library


Kristan Sarah Stephanie Ingrid said...

Yes! Your glowing review echoes our feelings and thoughts perfectly! This was one of those rare series that got better as time goes on. Can't wait to see what else Rae Carson comes up with.

Btw, if you like this series, we also recommend the SHADOW AND BONE series by Leigh Bardugo.

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