Dec 16, 2013

Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson (Girl of Fire & Thorns #2)

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

This is the second book in a series. Click to read my review of book 1, The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

Intended Age-Group: 13+
Issues of Violence: action violence, murder, mutilation, intense situations, magic violence.
Intimacy Level: Focus on sex. Occasional heavy kissing. Elisa questions her attractiveness. Some nakedness (still remains appropriate)
Language: none that I noticed.
Recommendation: yes, 5 out of 5 stars.

Back Cover Blurb:
She does not know what awaits her at the enemy's gate.

Elisa is a hero. She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from both foreign realms and within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears once and for all, Elisa must follow the trail of long-forgotten--and forbidden--clues from the deep, undiscovered catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her goes a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man who--despite everything--she is falling in love with.

If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

Initial Reaction: *****
The Crown of Embers takes Elisa into a completely new level of rule. Instead of leading desert mercenaries, she is now queen with death threats and murder attempts at ever turn. Amidst this chaos and dangerous love possibilities, she is discovering more about her purpose as the carrier of the Godstone.

This book was just as good, if not better, than book one. While The Girl of Fire and Thorns really laid a great foundation, this built with firm action, decision, and growth. I loved seeing the strengths and weaknesses Elisa discovered in herself as queen. The plot and twists kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't wait to get my hands on book three.

Characters: *****
As always, I admired the characters and found myself surprised more than once. That's something specific I love about Carson's writing, is that it's unpredictable. It's not always a pretty story, but a more real one. There were so many times where I just let the book drop and I'd sit until my mental, "NOOOOOO!" finally faded away enough to let me keep reading.

Only one thing made me stop in this book, and that came from when Elisa started focusing on sex with the man she realizes she loves. I understand she's young and that was something totally new to her, but when she started thinking about it -- worrying, fretting, and planning over it -- I felt her character change. Her leadership seemed to disintegrate. She came off as childish, needy, a little whiny, and distracted. Maybe this is realistic and, it may in fact be a pretty accurate picture of how love and intimacy may distract a young queen of sixteen.

No matter whether it was realistic or not, it diminished my respect and admiration for Elisa. I kept wanting to scream, "You're focusing on that now? When you're about to die and the lives of hundreds of people are in your hands, you're focusing on sex and birth control?"

That was the only thing that stood out to me--a taste of character inconsistency, but I haven't fully decided if it was inconsistent or just a little flare of bad-timing and childishness in Elisa's character.

Spiritual Elements: *****
The understanding of the Godstone and God both increased in this book--stepping to new depths of hidden tomes and secret places of power. Yet, the spiritual aspect of this religion remained fictitious to me--not fully connecting with symbolism of the Bible (that I could see). This is fine because her very intent may have been to have a fictitious religion. But, as a reviewer who focuses on reviewing with a Christian standpoint, I couldn't help but try to look for the similarities. While many things are the same, the relationship aspect with God is very different and much more distant in the novel than in real life.

Still, I greatly appreciate a strong read that remains clean and has a strong faith aspect to it. :) That would be the Fire and Thorns series.

Overall Recommendation: *****
The plot was brilliant, fast paced, and never left me bored. I am absolutely amazed by the writing and the story. I give it an easy five star, and that's saying a lot because five stars are not common in my rating category. [grin]

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

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