March 24, 2014

The Bitter Kingdom - Rae Carson

[Note: This is the third book of the Fire and Thorns series, so there may be spoilers for the previous books. Feel free to check out my reviews for The Girl of Fire and Thorns (book 1) and The Crown of Embers (book 2) instead!]

The Bitter Kingdom Rae Carson
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #3
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

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. (from Goodreads)

Even though I feel my words will be woefully inadequate, it is really important for me to be able to review The Bitter Kingdom. I don’t want any other fellow fantasy fans out there missing out on such an incredible trilogy any longer (which is what I did for years until just last month). The Bitter Kingdom is one of the best series enders I’ve read - rich in details, satisfactory conclusions per plot point… and still contains a thrilling adventure, treasured friendships and a swoony romance.

If The Girl of Fire and Thorns lit my fangirl fire, and The Crown of Embers coaxed roaring flames out of it, then The Bitter Kingdom kept it steadily aflame. It tells the next part of Elisa’s story, which is full of higher stakes, unexpected sacrifices and dangerous exploits. Like its predecessors, the novel is well-written, with just the right amount of flourish to provide lush details even while remaining fairly easy to read. 

The Bitter Kingdom takes everything readers have come to know about Elisa (including her destiny and duty), these characters, this world and the raging conflict in it and brings us to its fantastic conclusion. Though I might have been able to guess how things would go, it was easy to decide to simply just enjoy the ride and go where the words would take me. Carson’s writing is so easy to get lost in – and doing that was probably the reason my overall experience of the series was fantastic.

Elisa is a complete badass in The Bitter Kingdom. Gone is the girl from the very beginning of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, the one filled with uncertainty and fear, and found comfort in food and the familiar. A warrior, a queen, a mage – this is the girl that has taken her place. It was hard not to break out into applause and hollers of appreciation while witnessing all her deeds. It was a treat to see her in command, of herself and her kingdom. Carson allowed Elisa’s character development to unfold organically throughout the series, and it culminates here beautifully.

Elisa’s relationships (especially with her little crew of Mara, Belen, Storm and eventually, Mula/Red and Hector) are a key element of The Bitter Kingdom. It’s simply nice to see Elisa have friends she can rely on, who will tease her, advise her, protect her and stand by her. The clear affection and regard they have for one another is admirable and enviable.

Of course, there’s something more than friendship between Elisa and Hector. By the end of The Crown of Embers, these two are head over heels in love, but kept apart by duty, propriety and actual physical separation. I am seriously in love with this romance! Carson knows exactly how to make it work, taking a two steps forward-one step back approach that leaves readers wanting more. Readers should prepare for a whole lot of swooning, as the romance is entirely too epic to avoid doing so!

But Fire and Thorns is about Elisa’s journey. I loved that it was her individual journey that truly mattered. It was never buried or forgotten, and wound up being the primary aspect that carried the story along.

The Bitter Kingdom is a beautiful ending to the epic Fire and Thorns series. The story that began with Elisa’s wedding in The Girl of Fire and Thorns comes full circle here, with a satisfying, believable conclusion. It was an incredible journey to be a part of! Rae Carson has written a series that I will definitely be revisiting in the future. If you have yet to read this series, please take my word for it and JUST DO IT.


  1. Oh, yay! I'm so glad you loved this! This book is one of my favorite series enders of all time. And this series is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. Basically, I love this book, and I love you, and I'm so HAPPY that YOU loved it!

  2. GREAT review! I love your description of the fire building =) I can't wait to see what Rae Carson comes up with next. She definitely has a gift for storytelling and worldbuilding and great romance!

  3. Very helpful review, thank you! I've been putting off reading this because I had my problems with the first two books, but I do want to finish this trilogy SOMEDAY. Hopefully, I can get over myself and finally read it soon, and your review did help me now. So, thanks! :3

  4. Lovely review. Very well said. I'm not a big fantasy fan, but I really enjoyed these, so I would recommend them to anyone who likes an interesting heroine on a great adventure.

  5. Seriously one of my favorite endings to a series EVER. I'm beyond thrilled you loved it. HECTORRRRRR <3 (with no facial hair (; )

  6. YES! This was the best ending to this series and one of the better endings I've read! Extremely happy you read this series and loved it as much as I do. More people should read this one! It has so many fantastic elements that push boundaries and take us to places we don't get to go very often in fantasy. :)

  7. I'm SO happy you loved it!!! I cannot stop gushing about this series! I love Elisa and HECTOR! <3 That man is just... *swoon* And I couldn't have wished for a better ending to this series. I'm just sad that we won't be going on more adventures with the whole crew...


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