September 23, 2013
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
The Bitter Kingdom
by Rae Carson
The Bitter Kingdom was one of those books that I just had to finish — yet again, Carson pulled me in a with her gripping plot. But, NO! I don’t want to finish. It’s the third in the trilogy and I adore these characters.
As always, Rae Carson has created a deliciously complicated story. Delicious, but hard to review because it is in fact that complicated.
Elisa’s kingdom is in turmoil with a usurper on the throne. Before she returns, she must save Hector, the captain of the guard and her betrothed. She truly loves him but marriage to Hector will cement the bond between two kingdoms and end the squabbling over who she should marry.
Hector was kidnapped at the end of book 2, The Crown of Embers. He isn’t an idle captive and he truly believes Elisa will come for him. But if she does, he also knows she will have a reason in addition to her affection for him. Unfortunately, he had been kidnapped before she announced their engagement (oops!). He knows that if he keeps his eyes and ears open he is sure to learn something useful.
Storm still has no magic as they head back into his city and country. But as a failed Invierno sorcerer, he was exiled to Elisa’s kingdom. If the returns without his magic, he faces death unless he can serve his father in some vital way. The Invierno are simply that “practical.”
Mula/Red is a slave girl that Elisa saved from abuse the only way she could, by buying her. She is half Invierno, something Elisa didn’t even know was possible as she was always told that that Invierno were just that different from people.
In the course of this last book Elisa saves Hector; discovers the big secret the Invierno have been hiding for hundreds of years; learns that they really are not two entirely separate people, and is also forced to realize that she is something more than the magic and the bearer of a Godstone.
As always, Carson writes with subtle humor and creates living, breathing characters who are full of extraordinary contradictions. These contradictions, of course, make them all the more real and likable, especially Storm who initially seemed cold and haughty.
I really can’t tell you much more about the specifics of this book without giving it all away but fantasy fans will devour it. There is fantasy, intrigue and a solid dash of romance. There are also threads that touch on themes in our own lives as we must sort fact from fiction about enemies and threats both distant and closer to home.
I highly recommend this book for teen readers although it will likely appeal more to girls than to boys.