The Bitter Kingdom by Rae CarsonGenre: Fantasy
Reviewed on January 30, 2015
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Her enemies have stolen the man she loves, and they await her at the gate of darkness. Her country is on the brink of civil war, with her own soldiers ordered to kill her on sight.
Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lucero-Elisa né Riqueza de Vega, bearer of the Godstone, will lead her three loyal companions deep into the enemy's kingdom, a land of ice and snow and brutal magic, to rescue Hector and win back her throne. Her power grows with every step, and the shocking secrets she will uncover on this, her final journey, could change the course of history.
But that is not all. She has a larger destiny. She must become the champion the world has been waiting for.
Even of those who hate her most.
I have learned, through much heartbreak, that the things people work hardest to keep me ignorant of are the things most worth pursuing.
"I have learned, through much heartbreak, that the things people work hardest to keep me ignorant of are the things most worth pursuing."
The worthy conclusion to the Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy sends Elisa on a rescue mission to save the man she loves and to fulfill an unknown destiny thrust upon her by God since her birth. A civil war brews at home in her absence and she must battle an enemy invasion then plunge into yet another fight to get her kingdom back.
Should be exciting, right?
“I think sometimes when we find love we pretend it away, or ignore it, or tell ourselves we’re imagining it. Because it is the most painful kind of hope there is.”
After finishing the first two books within days of each other, I found myself stalling the third and final book, reading only snippets of only one page at a time. If I really enjoyed a book, I would eat the pages right up and devour the entire book within the time span a person took to ask me what I was reading.
(Did that make any sense?)
Therefore, let me be honest here. I think I “get” the hype with The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Even so, I’m one of those few who isn’t head-over-heels in love with this series. I like the books; just not enough to love. I dove into first book with high expectations, and my high hopes were stomped by the time I got to the end. I hate to admit it: it was the same with the second and third book. Similar to the quote above, it was painful to hope because I badly wanted to love the trilogy and was let down— not quite disappointed—but simply let down.
The books had their moments— moments when I laughed, when my heart leapt out of my chest, when I was overcome with sorrow, when I celebrated in triumph.
And yet, the only problem I had with this trilogy is it didn’t keep me intrigued as I got further and further into the story, learning secrets, discovering the true meaning of power one has over their lives, experiencing the adventure. This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations.
Most of the time, I was beyond tired of the heroine. I didn’t like Elisa’s voice one bit, and I truly believed that if this story was told in another character’s voice (with the exception of The Bitter Kingdom which alternates between Hector and Elisa), I would’ve liked the trilogy without the compulsory will of having to be pleasant about it. Or maybe if the trilogy was told in 3rd pov and I got to know the characters better this way, instead of seeing them as how Elisa saw them, then I would have been a serious fan of the trilogy.
There are traits to admire about Elisa— such as her bravery, determination, etc— but then there are also traits not to like about her— which in all fairness, it’s only right.
There were times when I felt Elisa blew things out of proportion. Here’s an example of something that annoyed me to the core: (If you’ve read the book and remembered this part, you know what scene I’m talking about.)
Storm drags himself to Waterfall’s side. She puts a hand to his cheek. “Thank you for saving me.”
I have to roll my eyes at that, because we all saved her. Every single one of us.
Really, Elisa? Really? I get it. I do.
You’re exhausted and hungry. You’re the fucking self-important, unyielding queen who has a country and God’s power weighing down on your shoulders and you're dragging your feet through the biggest bullshit of your life because everyone you trusted and loved can't be straight with you about the history of the Godstone. And yes, I know death is literally a step away and anyone can die at any time, but this isn’t the time to roll your eyes and be petty.
I swear, at that moment, it was my turn to roll my eyes at Elise.
Waterfall almost died. She’s in shock. She’s hurt and bleeding. She’s relieved to be alive and thankful her brother came to her because it shows how much he cares for her. She knows the rest of you risked your lives and helped her too, so excuse you that she isn’t clinging to your legs and crying with gratitude.
I had nothing against you in Book 1 and I understood your sorrow and confusion (as a matter of fact, all I did was pity you, but I didn’t care for you), but eventually I started to like you less and less with each book.
However, I will give you props, Elisa, for not being a damsel in distress and for being a bad-ass queen.
When we read books, we are obliged to care about the people the protagonist cares for. This, however, isn’t always the case with me. For the recurring characters, I didn’t feel any concern for them in Book 2 and it wasn’t until I was halfway done with this third book that I eventually started to care about what could happened to Storm, Bene, Mara, Hector, and even the new character Mula aka Red. I repeat: my heart thumped furiously with each near-death experience and I wanted to hold onto every single one of them. Too many lives were short-lived, and in this world, you never knew who was going to die next.
I think out of everyone, I like Red the most. Everybody was tough as rock and fiercely loyal, but she happens to be a little girl, who found herself caught up in a dangerous journey and events that would forever go down in history. I didn’t once hear her complain (except that one kissing scene *wink) and she easily made me laugh with her little remarks here and there. She was so eager to please and it made me want to protect and care for her like she was my own sister.
Also, I love Storm. And little Rosario. In the first book, I expected the Prince to be a little brat, but I came to cherish him.
The third book was enjoyable and I’m glad I got through it in one piece. Don’t get me wrong. The fantasy world was well-written and descriptive in details. Maybe even beautiful. Bottom fact is I think it was merely the narration that got to me.
To be fair, I would give the trilogy 3.5 stars.
The plot: 3 stars (Oh, Chosen One, nobody cares how special you are.) I guess I’m getting bored with all these “chosen one” plotlines.
The fantasy setting: 4 stars
The characters: 3.5 stars
I would give this third installment: 4 stars.