The Crown of Embers is the sequel to ‘The Girl of Fire and Thorns’ fantasy and political YA novel series about Elisa, a princess who was gifted with a Godstone and who turned into a rebel and now a queen to a wartorn kingdom, Joya d’Arena. At the start of the book, a length of time has past in between the novels which left Elisa a widow and her kingdom in near poverty with her people starting to be violent and hostile to her.
After the event in the first book, the Invierne has retreated and although Elisa’s people have won the battle, the consequences from the war is very apparent to her. Now that the Invierno have come to know of her Godstone, they have sent suicidal threats directly toward her, calling for her surrendering to the Invierne for her kingdom to be spared. In addition to that, she had to face the intense political warfare within her castle where the lords are trying to sway her and discredit her as a ruler. Because of her widowed state and the king who is still a child, Elisa had to find new suitors to secure a consort and restore balance to her neighbouring kingdoms. In the midst of that, she began to hide her feelings on her trusted guardian, Hector, despite their overwhelming dependence on one another. The story progressed into more political maneuvering, mystical answers and quest and the horror of multiple of asassination attempts where Elisa is the centre of it all.
I wouldn’t lie. The sole enjoyment that I received from this book was the gritty politics and Elisa’s struggle against the world who wanted her fail. There are prevelant amount of subtle romance in this book and frustration moments where Elisa had to be a queen instead of being herself. Receiving the end of irrational abuse and unfair perceptions of people, Elisa now faced even more challenge as a queen for the unstable kingdom. There are moments where death is just a glance away and intense emotions between the character that inserted neatly between conflicts that Elisa faced.
I enjoyed the book as the book approach most of the serious subject in adult and mature setting instead of light-hearted fairytale storyline. In this book, it was apparent that ruling a kingdom is never easy and that trying to make decisions involving even more political maneuverings. I do see in some ways, there are some improvement in Elisa’s character and her struggle in grasping on things and people that used to matter to her.
Honestly, I think its a good book. The content is a bit lighter in nature than Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere series and probably a kin to A Song of Fire and Ice as the magic realism in this book is also subtle but apparent. Because of the serious overtone in this book, I’m not sure it will attract much younger audience but most would adore the development of Elisa and Hector.