Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 3591
Satisfying conclusion to a fantastic trilogy
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
The Bitter Kingdom begins with one of my favorite epic fantasy conventions: The Long Journey Into Unknown Lands. In this case, Queen Elisa and her small band of allies are traveling to the hostile territory of Invierne to rescue Hector, the Captain of the Royal Guard, and also the man who holds Elisa's heart, who was taken captive at the end of The Crown of Embers. Before they can get to Hector, Elisa and her companions must overcome both the harsh winter weather of Invierne and the mysterious, deadly magic wielded by the Inviernos. But in The Bitter Kingdom, we are treated to something we never got in the first two books: Hector's point of view. So we are able to watch as he undermines and sabotages his captors, trying to delay their plans until Elisa comes for him.

I loved how Rae Carson turned the damsel in distress trope on its head by having Elisa be the one to go after Hector. Not only was it fun to watch the queen rescue the soldier, but it evidenced Elisa's tremendous growth since the first book. She was no longer cautious and filled with self-doubt, but finally comfortable in asserting her power as Queen. But although Hector was tied up and weakened, he was not helpless either. It was fantastic to see the two of them work together to secure Hector's freedom, even though neither of them knew what the other was doing. And as expected, I still loved Hector and Elisa. Adding Hector's point of view was brilliant, and it was amazing to witness his cold strategizing coupled with his tender thoughts toward Elisa.

As far as Elisa goes, in The Bitter Kingdom we see her both at her most powerful and her most vulnerable. Just when I thought her character arc may be complete, going from a meek princess with a low self-esteem to a confident queen in control of inconceivable magic, she plummeted back down and had to claw her way up again. I thought it was a stroke of genius, because it not only kept the stakes high and her character vulnerable, but it really let us see how Elisa has grown as a person, even apart from the Godstone.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters. The cast is smaller in this book, and I missed spending time with some of my favorite characters from Crown of Embers (the most noteable being Tristán), but almost every character makes at least a cameo appearance in the second half of the book, where we get some insight into where they wind up. Meanwhile, a couple lovely new characters are added to the cast, and some familiar characters are developed further. My favorite was probably Storm, the Invierno-turned-Joyan that we meet in the second book. He evolves from someone truly unlikable when we first meet him to one of the most fascinating characters in the series. I could read an entire book (or series) just about him and his family and his conflicted loyalties.

After the Epic Journey concludes, it's up to Elisa to stop a war, unite her people, get to the bottom of the magic the Inviernos are using to conquer anyone in their path, and discover her purpose as bearer of the Godstone. It's a tall order, and Rae Carson handles it brilliantly, with lots of action and intrigue interspersed with Elisa's own personal reflection as she struggles to be the person God needs her to be. By the end of the book, I had all of my big questions answered and felt satisfied with where the others were left.

The Bitter Kingdom was everything I want in the conclusion to a trilogy: action, intrigue, smart plotting, fantastic character development, and a satisfying conclusion. I'd wholeheartedly recommend this series to fans of fantasy and adventure, or just someone looking for a masterfully crafted, well-told tale.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

In My Heart
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A working mother reassures her child that even when they’re...
Grandpa's Stories
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
One young girl reflects on a year with her beloved...
The Nest That Wren Built
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Nature lovers and poetry fans alike will be drawn to...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
So, you want to know about Jack Wilson? Here’s some...
Elysium Girls
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From a lush, dazzlingly original new voice in young adult...
The Lost Legends
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
A plague. A prophecy. A centuries-long curse. All her...
In the Hall with the Knife
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A murderer could be around every corner in this...
Girls With Razor Hearts
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Make me a girl with a razor heart… It’s...
Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children #5)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The fifth installment in Seanan McGuire's award-winning, bestselling Wayward...
When Wishes Bleed
 
4.8
 
0.0 (0)
One Prince. One Witch. One Fate. The upheaval in...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ali McMillian almost drowned. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill accident either;...
Ember Queen (Ash Princess, #3)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling...
Moonscript
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
"It is said that Darkness is empty and whatever vanishes...
The Lucky Ones
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, This Is How It...
Girl, Serpent, Thorn
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl...
Meet Me at Midnight
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
They have a love-hate relationship with summer. ...

Latest Member Reviews

In My Heart
 
5.0
"IN MY HEART is a beautiful board book that celebrates the love between mother and child. Delving into the ways..."
Grandpa's Stories
 
4.5
"Both heart-wrenching and soul-soothing, this vibrantly illustrated story is a sort of basic introduction to the concept and impact of..."
The Nest That Wren Built
 
5.0
"THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT is a lovely journey through the process of building a nest to hatchlings who leave..."
When Wishes Bleed
 
4.8
"An imaginative story with a unique world. The Story: Sable is a witch who harbors..."
Elysium Girls
 
4.3
"ELYSIUM GIRLS is an engaging YA historical fantasy/dystopian. In the 1930s, an area of Oklahoma suddenly got cut off from..."
The Lost Legends
 
5.0
"apologize if this is a long review but I have a lot to say. Going into this book, I went..."
Girls With Razor Hearts
 
5.0
"Now that Mena and the other girls have escaped Innovations Academy, they find their past hasn't left them. Mena vows..."
The Lucky Ones
 
5.0
"THE LUCKY ONES is quite an emotional ride. The book follows May and Zach in alternating first person points-of-view. May..."
Girl, Serpent, Thorn
 
4.0
"GIRL, SERPENT, THORN is a YA fairytale retelling by Melissa Bashardoust. The story follows Soraya, a princess who is cursed..."
Meet Me at Midnight
 
4.0
"MEET ME AT MIDNIGHT is a book that reminds readers of all the possibilities and freedom of summer vacation. We..."
Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2)
 
5.0
"SWORD IN THE STARS is a satisfying conclusion to a delightful YA fantasy retelling of King Arthur in space! Picking..."
The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)
 
4.0
"THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION by Kiersten White is the first book in a YA retelling of the classic Arthurian legend. Guinevere,..."
Crave
 
4.3
"CRAVE is a really engaging new YA fantasy/paranormal romance that follows Grace in the first person. Grace lost her parents..."
I Love You, Daddy (Peter Rabbit)
 
4.0
"I LOVE YOU, DADDY is a sweet book for fathers to share with their young readers. Featuring springy pastels, Peter..."
Morning, Sunshine!
 
4.7
"MORNING, SUNSHINE! is an informative journey through nature and poetry. Each spread features a haiku on the left page and..."
I, Cosmo
 
4.0
"Cosmo is the "big brother" of Max and his young sister Emmaline, and is now 13 years old. He still..."
Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation (Charlie Thorne #1)
 
5.0
"Charlie is a twelve year old intellectual prodigy who has uncaring, manipulative parents whom she has escaped by enrolling in..."
Golden Arm
 
5.0
"Lazarus Weathers lives in the Jet City trailer park in Seattle with his mother and half brother, Antonio. He has..."
Ember Queen (Ash Princess, #3)
 
4.3
"EMBER QUEEN is a great conclusion to the Ash Princess trilogy. Picking up right where book 2 left off, Theo..."
Otter: What Pet Is Best?
 
5.0
"'Otter: What Pet Is Best?' by Sam Garton introduces Otter to a variety of pets that he might want, but..."