I'm having so much of a fangirl moment right now that it's almost difficult to write a coherent recommendation for Rae Carson's THE CROWN OF EMBERS.
First off, it's the epically awesome sequel to THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS*. No snoozeworthy middle-novel-syndrome here; this book rocks.
It sets such a high bar for high fantasy, and Rae Carson has established herself among the ranks of Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore.
What's THE CROWN OF EMBERS about? (Summary from Goodreads.)
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.
This series has everything you want:
- The main character is made of awesome. (Hi, Elisa!) She's intelligent and strong, but she's still coming into her own as a queen, so there's plenty to root for. There's this whole business about her being The Chosen One in an all-important prophecy, but she doesn't let that get in the way of her getting. stuff. done.
- The stakes are high. Basically, everyone wants Elisa dead, and for a number of reasons. Everywhere Elisa turns, there's an enemy, and some come to her under the guise of friendship. All she wants to do is lead her kingdom in the right direction, but all these attempts to undermine, de-throne, and assassinate her make that a little difficult.
- The swoon is SO swoony. In THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, I never knew what Rae Carson would do in terms of Elisa's love interest, because that person changed as Elisa's situation changed and as she grew as a person. By the end of the book, I knew who made me the swooniest, and in THE CROWN OF EMBERS, I was happy to see that Elisa was feeling the same way. But of course, there are the inevitable obstacles that lead to the most delightfully torturous romantic tension.
- The worldbuilding is excellent. The story is set in such a richly-developed world, and we get to see even more of it in THE CROWN OF EMBERS. I love when a setting — from Elisa's bedroom to the streets of the city to a ship — is more than just a backdrop. Everything from food to clothing to language to religion add depth to the world.
- The end. All I can say is, I read it in literally one sitting, finished the last page, put the book down, and yelled, "I have to wait A YEAR for the last one?! I can't wait a year!" And then I'm pretty sure I whimpered in distress at the thought. Is it time to pre-order yet?
All in all, THE CROWN OF EMBERS is a book I'm recommending to everyone I know. It's definitely worth the purchase, and I officially consider Rae Carson a must-read author. Go buy this book!!
Anyone else as enamored with this series as I am?
* I just went back and re-read that post recommending FIRE AND THORNS for the first time since I wrote it, and it's crazy how similar it is to this one! I was equally blown away by my fangirly love for the first book, and I read it just as obsessively quickly — now that's the sign of a great series.