D.G.’s Rating: 4.5 skulls = A-
I don’t remember the last time I read such a satisfying end to a trilogy. The Bitter Kingdom was full of action, intrigue and surprising developments. It’s definitely the best book in the trilogy and not just because we have Hector’s POV. 🙂
The Bitter Kingdom starts where Crown of Embers left off, with Elisa and her crew undertaking a very dangerous journey to rescue one of her own. I had thought that most of the book was going to deal with that but in truth, that was only one part of the overall plot. As Elisa journeys with her friends and allies, she gets answers to some previous mysteries but new questions emerge: are her accomplishments due to her role as God’s chosen or has it been her all along?
One of the most satisfying parts of the story has been Elisa’s character growth. In the first book, she’s an insecure teenager, in the second book she’s a Queen in the making but in this third one she emerges a woman of strength and character, perfect for her role as a Queen. She’s smart, practical, shrewd and even a bit devious when she must be, with a great understanding of politics and human nature. Every now and then I would utter an Atta Girl!, every time she made a particularly ballsy move.
In previous books, God seemed to be a stronger presence with a definite path for Elisa. But towards the end, there was some murkiness about the issue and even Elisa begins to wonder if God is really that involved in their lives. Whether things she had taken for granted as coming from God (like the warmth she received from her stone) were real or just figments of her imagination. I’m not sure if I liked this switch in the paradigm of the story but it didn’t distract me overmuch.
Having Hector’s POV was marvelous. We got to know a bit more about him, his feelings and his strength of character. I wished we knew more details about how he got such a powerful position at such a young age – I know he was friends with the King but that didn’t seem to be enough somehow. That’s why I’m very excited to read The King’s Guard, a prequel novella with a young Hector as main character.
Overall, a great end to the trilogy. If you read the first book but wasn’t crazy about it, I completely recommend you give the second book a chance. It’s rare when a series get better as it continues but this is definitely the case here. You won’t regret it!
Thanks to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for providing a review copy of this book!
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